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One and the Same Place

It’s September 14, 2018. On this date twenty years ago, I officially began my pastoral journey with the launch of our student church at the University of Waterloo. There were months of preparation that went into our kick-off at the Humanities Theatre, but that night was when things really began. We tried to spread the word the best we could, which was quite a challenge in a world that was just dipping its toes in the internet and still several years away from the advent of social media. I was hoping and praying that God would draw 50 students out that night, not because numbers were the focus of what we were doing, but because the theatre we were meeting in had 675 seats and anything less than 50 people simply would have been embarrassing. In the end, 85 people walked through the doors and our church was born. I remember lying in bed late on that first Monday night and saying to Melissa, “I just thought of something: We have to do this again next week!” (Note: This post is part of an …
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Turning the Page

September 4, 2018. Today is the first day of school. Our oldest son has moved into his dorm with a week of orientation already behind him, but this will be the first day of classes for all three of them. Everyone experiences the first day of school differently, but I believe that for most there is a mixture of fear and excitement. Even as adults, we can recall to memory quite easily those feelings of anticipation as the summer winds to a close and we get ready to head back to the routines and relationships that will give structure to our lives for the better part of a year.(Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please follow this link and start reading at the oldest post, Fear and Trembling.)In a church, too, September brings a return to ‘normalcy’ as we slide back into our routines and re-connect with the broader community that we may have lost touch with a bit over the course of the summer. In my early years pastoring a student church, I remember th…

Moving Day

At the outset of this writing project, I determined to write my story live, with the notion of sharing it for the benefit of others who might one day walk down a similar path. I’ve committed to leaving my entries as intact as possible along the way, avoiding the temptation to smooth out the rough edges or omit the parts that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to include today. There is one part of my story, however, that I have decided is best left unshared. (Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please follow this link and start reading at the oldest post, Fear and Trembling.)In late August of 2018, I experienced a significant falling out with a long-time friend and member of our Staff team. What happened on the night Melissa and I met together with him and his wife at their home was incredibly personal—even more so than much of what I’ve shared to date—and while everything I’ve written in this blog has quite obviously been from my perspective, in this ca…

It's Time to Move On

August 9, 2018. A few weeks ago, a member of our congregation offered to sit down with me with his “therapist hat” on. I knew I would take him up on it at some point, but I wanted to wait until the moment was right. In the old game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? you’re given a limited number of opportunities to receive outside help called lifelines, after which you’re on your own. You have to be strategic, because if you “phone a friend” too soon, you’ll have no one left to call for help when you get to the more challenging questions. In a way, I was holding off reaching out for as long as I could, but on the other side of the disaster in the Upper Room, I knew I was in trouble.
(Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please follow this link and start reading at the oldest post, Fear and Trembling.)
There was plenty of silence when I got home that Sunday afternoon and, judging by the silence that my family offered in return, it was clear that Melis…

The Upper Room

Today is July 24, 2018. This past Sunday morning, during the discussion portion of our service, I extended an invitation for anyone who was looking for a space to talk through our recent conversations about same-sex attraction to join me in the Upper Room. We didn’t make a big deal about it, but put a simple note in the program acknowledging that our conversations around this theme have presented us with some challenging ideas and have led to a mixture of emotions. 
We decided to do this because a member of our Staff team had heard from a couple of people who were expressing confusion about where our church was headed and who were hoping to get more clarity. The last thing we wanted to do was continue to let this issue dominate the life of our community, but it was clear there were still pockets of people who had some outstanding questions. The suggestion in our Staff meeting was that if we didn’t provide an opportunity for ongoing dialogue, there was a risk that we would lose people w…

Painful in a Different Kind of Way

I’m having trouble falling asleep tonight, but I only have myself to blame for checking my work email on a Friday night. Another family has circulated an email to say that they are leaving. This wasn’t a surprise to me, given some exchanges I’ve had with them over the past few months, but the thing that is frustrating me right now is that they didn’t even respond to the last email I sent their way. Part of what I wrote as I signed off included the following expression of hope:
I realize, based on your comments, that the space we are inviting our community into might not be a place where the two of you are willing or able to go. But as you're prayerfully weighing this decision, what I would ask (and perhaps we can pick this up when we connect in person next month) is whether this one issue must override everything else good and wonderful that has defined your relationship with Elevation over the years.
(Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please fo…

The Parking Garage

July 15, 2018. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve sat down to write. My brother and his family are visiting from South America and I have hit ‘pause’ on just about everything over the past couple of weeks so we can spend as much time as possible with them during the short time they’re here. The last time they travelled to Ontario as a family was three and a half years ago, and that was in the winter, so this time around, we’re doing every summer activity we can think of, giving my niece and nephews as many new experiences as we can. We took them to a beach on one of Ontario’s Great Lakes, took the ferry to Toronto Island before catching a Blue Jays game, and crammed the whole family into a big old house just outside of Niagara Falls for some sightseeing. And that was just the first three days!
(Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please follow this link and start reading at the oldest post, Fear and Trembling.)
On the day we went to the baseball g…