Ohana Means Family

Life has a funny way of taking us to places that we didn’t expect.  

Take me, for example. If you had told me 5 years ago, as Cassandra and I came back from our honeymoon and settled into the rigmarole and routine of daily married life, that in 2019 we’d be planting a church - I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me 10 years ago, as I settled into my senior year of high-school, I would have called you crazy.  

But here we are.  

There’s a quote from Ray Bradbury in his book Fahrenheit 451 that goes like this: “I'm seventeen and I'm crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane.” 

I’m 27, and if I’m being honest with you, in this season of life, sometimes I feel insane. So if you read the words ‘planting a church’ and thought ‘you’re crazy’, or ‘…why?’, don’t feel too bad, I might understand.  

I think that most of us here in Canada have some sort of experience with ‘the church’ or Christianity. For those of us in Abbotsford, we almost certainly do. Whether that experience has generally been positive is another question entirely. If you’re still reading, can I tell you a tiny bit about my experience? I understand that it might differ from yours, I think it’s alright to not feel the same way all the time. 

I’ve always considered myself to be a person with one foot on either end of a spectrum - either I think about an issue or idea deeply and examine it thoroughly and delve its depths excessively and obsessively… or I gloss over it and pay it little attention unless it’s placed directly in front of me and taunts me into cursory examination. Regardless - I don’t consider myself someone who knows or cares a little amount about a lot of things. I’m generally one or the other, and my wife can certainly attest to this.  

I’ve thought about ‘the church’ a lot. I’ve thought about its pros, its cons, the things it does well, and the places it can improve. I’ve thought about its successes, its failures, the many places and times that it’s brought people together, and the times it’s so sadly torn people apart. How could I have not? I’ve been raised in it. I, like so many of us in the Fraser Valley, was brought up in church. I went to Sunday school, I memorized my Bible verses, I sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’. I went to youth camps, I went to small groups, I filled shoeboxes with toys and sent them to Africa. I was an adherent to the faith of my parents, because it was the faith of my parents. What do we know, if not what we’ve been taught? And for many years, the faith of my parents was enough. 

Until one day it wasn’t. 

And isn’t this so many of our stories? You wake up one morning, and look at the world outside your window, and think to yourself ‘are you even up there?’.. ‘And if you are, why _________?’ Why suffering? Why injustice? Why corruption? Why death? Why pain? Why hypocrisy? Why hate? In short, why does the world not align with the way that I think it should? Wouldn’t it be so much better if …? 

We all fill in that blank differently. Some of us have found answers. Some us haven’t yet. Some of us have become comfortable not always knowing. To be honest, I feel like I fit all three categories at times. I think that’s alright. I think doubt is essential to faith, and if we don’t examine our beliefs and preconceptions regularly, we risk those beliefs drifting from their original course and intention.  

Church should be a place where questions are encouraged, not avoided; where doubts are engaged, where you are built up, not beat down, and where faith is not mandatory for acceptance.  

The opposite of faith is not doubt - it’s certainty. Certainty is that air-tight room which doesn’t let anything or anyone into the messy parts of life and smells like mothballs. Doubts are those inevitable cracks in the structure. That universality to humanity that brings us together. Doubt is the places the light shines through. In my experience, it’s within the uncertainty of life and love and parenting and adolescence and purpose and meaning and morality and origin and destiny that we find faith. It’s in our examination and openness of our own worries, struggles, fears and failures that we relate to each other, and acknowledge our need for God. It’s in the realization of my imperfection and inability to fill this indefinable, universal void that plagues my life no matter what I do that I turn to something or someone outside of myself, and outside of my own understanding.  


For me, that person is Jesus.  

For me, that place is the church. Don’t get me wrong - the church is imperfect - and we can get better - but it’s in the cracks that the light shines through. No perfect people inevitably means no perfect church. There’s no point in hiding from that fact. 

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. Over and over I saw the same messaging - the messaging we all need to hear, no matter where we are on our journey. Whether we’re facing depression, loneliness, fear, confusion, anxiety, addiction, infertility, brokenness in our families and relationships, health concerns that you just don’t know when they’ll end or if they’ll ever get better. The message was this: You matter. You are not alone. 

We’re planting a church in Abbotsford. It’s launching in January 2019. You don’t need to come. But no matter whether you join us or not - please know this: you matter. You are not alone. You are loved. Peace is a person, and love has a name and that name is Jesus and the God of the universe does not hate you, does not condemn you, but actually wants a personal relationship with you. He wants to know you, and wants you to know Him in return. 

I so firmly believe that the way we were created is to be in community and in relationship with others. Life in community is hard sometimes, but I’ve learned that it’s harder alone. I think church should be fun and vibrant. It should make you laugh a lot, and sometimes maybe it makes you cry a bit. No matter what, I think it should feel like family. I have a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. This means that sometimes at 5AM when she wakes up, I’m a good husband because I let my wife sleep in but an iffy parent because I turn on the Disney channel and lie down on the couch. I’m reliving my childhood watching these old movies while half asleep. Lilo and Stitch played the other day. Can I leave you with this from the movie?  

“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”. 

We’re looking to build a family in the Fraser Valley. We’d like you to be a part of it. If you’re feeling lost. If you’re feeling left behind. If you’re feeling forgotten. If you haven’t found a place to belong. If you’re confused. If you have questions. If you don’t believe - we want you to know - you still belong. You’re so welcome here. We can’t wait to meet you.  

With all the love we have to give, 

Dan & Cassandra Comrie 

#hopeinthevalley 

@relatechurchvalley 

relatechurchvalley.ca 

Screenshot 2018-09-11 13.31.44.png
 

What Does Your Faith Look Like?

“Real and fake faith look exactly the same until they are put to the test”. - Bill Keisy

We have been studying the book of James over the last month at Relate Church and how it’s a blueprint for us to live our lives well.

As we go through life our faith is put to the test. The Bible says to count it all joy because if you persevere your character grows and hope comes alive in us for the world to see. If we don’t go through these challenging times in our lives we will not have developed the character we need to rely on for the tougher days down the road.

True faith will never be passive; it rolls up its sleeves and says, “let’s get to work".

Our love will require us to do the hard work we are called to do. A faith driven church is one who puts in the work to make a difference in other people’s lives according to His will and His purpose in our lives.

Recently at Relate Women, Pastor Helen talked about how it’s important to share the journey with others and not just keep things between, “me and God”. Which is the stance I have taken for so long now. This is not something I’m very comfortable sharing but I’m learning it’s important to show our faith in action because this is what moves the heart of God.

I’d like to share with you what that looks like in my life over the last five years. This is not something I have ever shared publicly, but a few close friends and my family are very aware of my mission. In my life that means delivering a meal and spending time with people who are struggling with something that’s been life-altering. 

Our love will require us to do the hard work we are called to do.


You know the kind of moments when you wake up to a new day and everything is different. I have spent time with many people who have lost a loved one or a spouse, others who have been diagnosed with cancer and others who have suffered very traumatic experiences.

One of the first people that I served was the husband of a dear friend of mine who passed away. It was not easy, not something that I wanted to do, but I knew someone needed to walk alongside his family while they all grieved. Life goes on and the world keeps moving on but for people who have had hard times the world tends to completely stop. I have a small idea how hard these days are for them so I serve them the best way I know how.

There have been moments that I’ve walked away and said a little prayer as I walk back to my car. Some days I feel like my knees will buckle because the pain that people endure is something else, but it’s my hope that they can see Jesus and know that He is truly the Prince of Peace and He is with them in those toughest moments of their lives.

We are learning within this series inside James that true faith is how you love and serve others.

The one thing that I love about the book of James is that it also means being quiet and listening to others. There is wisdom in listening well and hearing the life struggles of others from their perspective and life experience.

I want to be part of a church that serves people so they know they have found their “home”. Church to me is my home and when life challenges have come my way, it’s my hope and prayer that everyone who walks through the doors feels loved and welcome because they are family.

I would like to leave you with one of my favourite scriptures that I often pray, “Thank you God for every good and perfect gift you’ve given me because I know it all comes from you”.

James 1:17-27
"Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the Heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession."

  VERA JM RAPOSO

VERA JM RAPOSO

 

Spring Cleaning

Spring is very definitely here. Everywhere you look there are signs of the once dormant earth stretching and waking up; daffodils, cherry blossoms, and once bare trees are now blushing with a new green.  

It’s a time that we throw open those windows and let our homes once again breathe. Unfortunately the very act of throwing open those windows and shades highlights the “damages” that winter has wrought, and dust and grime that was once overlooked now has become apparent. Ugh. Hence the time honoured tradition of the Spring Clean.

I think spring cleaning was actually God’s idea. No, seriously. Not because cleanliness is next to godliness...though that is good. No, I think it was God’s idea because every spring there is Passover, and in the days prior to the celebration the Mamas and ladies of the house would clean their home from top to bottom to rid it of yeast and other things that are forbidden to the holiday. Passover requires unleavened bread and that can’t happen until ALL vestiges of yeast have been eradicated from the home.

Here’s the thing about baking bread (yeah we’re going to go there for just brief minute): the yeast used, once activated, doesn’t stay with the dough. It ends up permeating the kitchen and from there, the home. Yeast is an active organism and the more bread you make, the more yeast will colonize its environment. This is not necessarily a bad thing and when it comes to bread making it is actually a good thing and can only make your endeavour to make bread easier, especially if you’re using a starter.

We need to take a good look at things and see what is good and what is not so good, and determine what is going to stay and what isn’t. 

That being said, there are times that yeast can be a bad thing: just ask any baby that has had thrush, or someone who ended up with a yeast infection of any kind. No fun.

In our lives we have things that kind of act like yeast, and can permeate all different areas of our homes, work places, thoughts, etc; both good and bad.  

Jesus said “beware the yeast of the Pharisees” (Matthew 16:6). He knew, as well as his disciples, what yeast acted like and what had to happen for a home to be yeast free. They knew that every year, every nook and cranny of a good Jewish home was cleaned prior to Passover and it was a big job that was approached systematically and thoroughly.

We need to do the same things with the things that are leavening us, our homes, our families. We need to take a good look at things and see what is good and what is not so good, and determine what is going to stay and what isn’t. 

What is leavening your work place? Gossip or Wisdom? What are you leavening your children or your spouse with? Is there love and patience, or is there harsh words and intolerance? Is there grace, or is there neglect? Are we speaking life, or are we empowering a little bit of death?

James 1:21 says “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts for it has the power to save your souls”  

The Apostle Paul points us to how we are to act and speak by giving us a list of characteristics that we should aim for: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal 5:22-23).  These make up the good yeast that we should encourage to colonize our lives and our homes. Things like jealousy, hostility, selfish ambition, dissension, division, etc, are the bad yeast that we need to make every effort to clean out of our life-cupboards and by extension our homes and even our work places.

So friend, shall we start with our own spring clean? It sounds big and daunting, but if we approach it systematically, thoroughly, and with the help of God and other likeminded people we can not only positively affect the health of our hearts and minds but also the environment and atmosphere around us.

  MICHELE HENTER

MICHELE HENTER

 

Making Bread

Mmm…fresh baked bread, is there anything more appetizing or appealing?

I have recently rediscovered the joy of making bread. Making bread is a deceptively simple thing, but it is a thing that requires practice and a learned rhythm to get it right. There’s something about the rhythm of the process that speaks to me and it becomes a sort of meditation that centres me. 

Gathering everything together, measuring, pouring, kneading, etc…it all soothes me and also speaks to me.  I am one of those people who tend to see or learn lessons through the mundane or the every day and making bread is no different.

One morning as I was in the process of making a batch of bread, I thought about the process and it bounced around in my head along with some words from past sermons and it came to me that it is quite like learning the rhythm of spending time with God.  All the ingredients are the bits and pieces that make up our Christian walk: bible reading, prayer, devotions, worship, and whatever else you want to throw in there. The sometimes difficult part is trying to incorporate it all into the rhythm of our lives, and to do so consistently (can I get an amen?).

The same goes for incorporating bible reading, prayer, and worship into your life. It takes practice and consistency to be able to smoothly incorporate it all into the rhythm of life.

I mentioned that making bread requires practice to get it right, from the water temperature for the yeast, to recognizing when you have kneaded enough flour into the dough.  The process of kneading not only helps to incorporate all the ingredients but if you work the dough correctly and sufficiently you end up with something that is smooth and elastic, not sticky. It’s this elasticity that makes for those lovely high domed loaves that are so appealing.

The same goes for incorporating bible reading, prayer, and worship into your life. It takes practice and consistency to be able to smoothly incorporate it all into the rhythm of life. Once the rhythm and the knowledge of the process becomes familiar, the difficult times become somewhat easier to bear because the knowledge of who God is and who you are in Him come bubbling to the top and you are that elastic dough that rises and stretches and doesn’t burst or fall. Then, once the “heat” has passed, you are a pleasing aroma to those around you and you have become food for those around you.

So, my friend, are you willing to join me in learning the rhythm of incorporating God into your every day, to learn the unforced rhythms of grace and become a pleasing aroma to the family, friends and community around you? Together we can change things, one loaf of bread at a time. 

  MICHELE HENTER

MICHELE HENTER

 

Sisterhood Q & A with Helen Burns

As our Relate Women Sisterhood Conference is just a couple weeks away (on April 20-21), Pastor Helen Burns has been praying and planning out an incredible weekend along with our team. We thought it might be fun to distract her for a few minutes in order to hear what's on her heart and learn a little bit more about what's inspiring her in this season, so we threw some questions her way. Here's how she responded:

My very favourite things are:

People are my favourite... I love my family and my church, but I just really love being with people (I'm a ESFJ). I also love a great book (historical fiction and biographies preferably) I adore a delicious cup of coffee (my very favourite is made by my personal barista, my husband John), I love to travel the world and experience different cultures and learn from them, and I love to laugh a lot so anything that makes me laugh-to-the-point-of tears is my favourite.

Best book I’ve read lately:

Two recent standouts have been The Nightingale (Kristen Hannah) and The Broken Way (Ann Voskamp).

I think an ideal day off would look like this:

Get up early, spend time with God as I enjoy a great coffee... then spend time with family, friends or my husband and head into my favourite city in the whole world - the city of my birth, Vancouver. I'd go for a walk in Stanley Park or Granville Island. Maybe shop a little on Robson Street and then have a fantastic dinner at a cafe that serves amazing food - I'd order salmon or a steak. I'd end the day at English Bay staring at the ocean and people watch for an hour or so and come home to my home on a hill and feel insanely grateful for my very, very blessed life. 

Something on my bucket list that I haven’t got to yet:

There's still some countries I'd love to explore... Israel & Iceland come to mind first and I think I would love to spend a week or so in an Italian villa where I can take a cooking course.

What is inspiring me right now:

A young generation of women that I see all around me. They are longing to bring change to the world, they are not content with the status quo, and see so many things that need care and attention for their future and their future children. I am aware that they want those of my generation to walk beside them and behind them cheering them on and helping them navigate their lives in this sometimes very lost and scary world. They make me want to rise up in this season of my life more than ever. 

How I’d describe the Sisterhood Conference using just three words:

Jesus-centered.

Empowering.

FUN.

How I’d describe the Sisterhood Conference using more words:

This conference is created to give everyone an opportunity to spend some powerful uninterrupted time investing into their personal life, their future and relationships with both God and others. It really is all about coming together to be equipped and empowered through magnificent times of worship, learning from amazing teachers, building new and lasting friendships in an atmosphere that is beautiful and fun. This conference also is an invitation to make the world a better place through partnership with ministries locally, nationally and globally. It's a stunning picture of Sisterhood in every way.

What I’d like women to know about themselves:

I would want every woman to know that they are custom made by a loving Father in Heaven who created them with a purpose that only they can personally fulfill. They are unique and amazing in every way and have a very important part to play in this world. I would want them to know that whether they are in their teen years, well into their senior years and everything in between, that its critical that they rise and take their place... Many have been kicked down and hurt by life, many have made mistakes, some have extraordinary circumstances that they are dealing with and so much more, but every single woman has something to offer and we all need her more than she could ever imagine. Together, Sisterhood is miraculous!

HB.JPG

Pastor Helen Burns

 

Ch-Ch-Changes

My daughter is about to turn one. My first-born. My baby girl. One. 365 days. 365 times that God’s green earth has turned on its axis with her breathing this beautiful B.C. air. 365 times that she’s opened her eyes to a fresh new morning, full of potential and promise, full of beauty and life. 365 times I’ve said good night with a kiss on the cheek, and about 363 where I’ve woken thinking “It can’t be morning yet”. 

Let me tell you, 365 days never went so fast.

But you know what else 365 means? Far more diaper changes than that.

Rae hates getting changed. She’s a curious, adventurous soul, we can tell already. She wants to move; she dislikes restriction; she detests restraint. But she also knows when she’s dirty, and she doesn’t like that too much either. 

She wants to be clean, but she hates the process. She would so much rather transition from dirty to clean instantaneously, without the need for changing. But diapers don’t work like that. 

I’m so glad that Jesus does. 

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-19)

 

"The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus cleans us before he expects us to change. It’s not behave and be saved, it’s simply believe and receive."

 

You know when a fisherman cleans a fish? After he’s already caught it. You think fishermen get very many fish coming up onto the deck pre-cleaned? No, they get them grimy, they get them dirty, they get them guts and eyes and all. They catch them first. And then they clean them. 

The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus cleans us before he expects us to change. It’s not behave and be saved, it’s simply believe and receive. It’s not tit-for-tat. It’s not do this or do that. We have no currency in this exchange, because the message of Jesus Christ is not transactional, it’s relational. God’s grace was never based on you, it’s just been placed on you. 

The cross is sufficient. The blood is enough. Jesus made a way. As we near Easter, I’m so thankful to be reminded of this:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I’m so thankful that the Bible is not simply good advice - it’s good news. Good advice tells you what you should do. Good news tells you what’s already been done for you. As this weekend approaches, I’d encourage you to invite someone you know to come and join us, so that they too can hear the good news. 

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4)

  DANIEL COMRIE

DANIEL COMRIE

 

Who Am I Following?

“I’m not where I should be by now.”

If this is a phrase familiar to you, you aren’t the only one.  

A few years ago I ran a half-marathon. I am not an athletic person. My affinities lie in books, movies and napping, not sweating and moving. Regardless, I decided to do the darn thing somehow. The day of the marathon saw hundreds of participants ready to carpe diem. Everyone began at the very same time and the energy in the air was palpable. Even I found myself being carried away in the excitement and anticipation... at first. The halfway point of the marathon was marked to encourage runners on their journey; to carry on and push through the pain. It was meant to reignite the flame in fatigued participants. It had the opposite effect on me. As soon as I saw the crooked chalk line labeled 11km, I burst right into tears.

I cried partly because I was exhausted. Partly because I was hungry. But most of those tears were shed because when I looked around me, I saw no one. Everyone had run past me and I was all alone, completely left behind with so much left to go. Being so far from everyone else had me wanting to call it quits.

“Running the race” is cliché metaphor for a lot of life’s lessons and with good reason. Both marathons and life require stamina, endurance and foresight. This panic and pressure I felt to catch up to everyone else is mirrored in my everyday life.

 

"However, if I had not understood the scope of what was at stake beyond the race, I honestly might not have crossed that finish line. It wasn’t about catching up, it was about keeping on."
 

We do a lot of crazy things to avoid feeling left behind, don’t we? We buy items we don’t need. We put ourselves into debt. We stay in toxic relationships. We adjust our taste, hobbies and appearance. We shut down and stop trying. The idea of being the last one out is abhorrent because it is a lonely place to be. Thankfully, life is not a literal race. Success is not measured by being the fastest, strongest and first. There’s no such thing. The person ahead of you is not the one you’re keeping up with. They aren’t the one you ought to follow.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." -Deuteronomy 31:8

If ever you look at your life and feel like you are lacking, that you aren’t as far as you expected to be, ask yourself this question:

“Who am I following?”

God is not in competition with you. He goes before you to pave the path and runs alongside you through every bump, corner and straightaway. 

Spoilers: I did not quit the half-marathon.

I was not running entirely for myself but on behalf of a community of women to raise funds for women in Northern Uganda who had been terrorized by LRA rebel soldiers. If this sounds a little like a humblebrag, I’m okay with that. I can honestly say it’s one of those few things I can look back on and feel proud of. However, if I had not understood the scope of what was at stake beyond the race, I honestly might not have crossed that finish line. It wasn’t about catching up, it was about keeping on.

This is a lesson that is applicable to all areas of my life. I have felt the pressure of trying to live a life on par with everyone else. The burden can be soul crushing. I find relief by taking my focus from the crowd and instead following the one who follows me. When I remember that God is close, I can always run a little further, a little harder and with more perspective.
 

  ELIZA BIASON

ELIZA BIASON

 

Leadership Transition - Q & A with Angela Doell

A few weeks ago, on February 4th, we made an announcement in our Vision Weekend services that was significant for my family and for our church. Our pastors, my parents, announced that I would step into the Lead Pastor role and that they would take on the titles of Founding and Teaching Pastors. They told the church that this would play out over a year of transition. It was a big deal for all of us to bring this news to the church, naturally. We were excited about sharing the news and aware that it would stir up emotion and reaction. We moved forward because, after a long period of prayer and discussion and seeking wisdom, we all knew it was the right move to make. And, it was time. 

My husband Rod and I love our church with a deep passion. It's an extension of our family, it's where our roots are, and it is what we dream about. We have gathered wisdom for years under the mentorship of brilliant mentors - my parents, and others who have led us - and we are humbled and honoured to carry our church forward. We have a vision to see Relate Church grow in a new, powerful way. We see multiplication and expansion. Rod and I see ourselves as bridge builders, connecting the generation running before us to the one that will follow. We're pretty ordinary people who have lots of growing to do, but who are committed to empower leaders and seek God and spread the gospel in our city. We've decided that we'll do whatever it takes.

Many people have been so encouraging and have responded with joy, and I am so thankful. Some have questions and I am grateful when there's a conversation rather than assumptions, so questions are welcomed. I'm sure some people have mixed emotions, and I actually think that is wonderful. I have the same feelings. If our church family feels unsettled because they have been devoted to our pastors for so long and feel unsure about this change, I believe that's good and healthy. Change is uncomfortable. Change also always precedes growth, so we like to embrace it around here. I know of a few questions floating around, and so I'd love to address some of them, with the blessing and input of my parents and husband.

 

What does this actually mean for our church? What will change?

Pastors John and Helen aren't leaving the church. They aren't going anywhere, and I'm not sure we will notice a great change in their presence or platform. They will continue to travel and minister as they have for years, and they will preach when they're home. Dad will be teaching through the month of April on the Book of Revelation. I am currently under the coaching of Pastors John and Helen as I work directly with our others pastors and staff. We're in constant communication, and I'll continue to take on more responsibility this year. 

Typically a succession in leadership involves the passing of a baton. One leader passes on a title or responsibility and moves away to let the new leader take over. We recognize that our plan and what we are modelling is unique, but we believe it's powerful. We are running this lap together, working together to make the best decisions for our church. Together we have the wisdom of decades of experience and the insight of a fresh generation. It isn't an easy race, but it's a strong one. 

Once this transition is complete in 2019, our founding pastors will still be here, still adding strength and wisdom. If you know them, you know they wouldn't have it any other way. This is home. They're completely invested.

 

How did you come to this decision?

Dad quotes 2 Timothy 2:2 often, a scripture that encourages us to pass on truths to faithful or trustworthy people who will then pass them on to others. A goal of ministry here is always to invest into faithful people who will then lead and minister to others. When we began this discussion around succession five years ago as my dad turned 60, we were looking earnestly at faithful leaders, sons and daughters of our house, who could potentially take the lead in the future. I was personally involved in these discussions without any thought that I might be the one. I wasn't really interested, actually. I'm a woman, for starters! And my husband once said that God would have to speak to him audibly in order for us to ever consider leading the church. It's funny how God works, though. Over the last few years he's changed our perspective and grown our hearts exponentially. I have been working for years to create alignment on our team, to define our culture and our values, and to bring clarity to the vision we've heard from our pastors. My love for Jesus has deepened as I've been desperate to know him and hear his voice in order to pastor people well in the Executive Pastor role. I've always loved our church, but God has changed my heart for people in a way that has forced me to develop greater character and capacity over these last years. 

Last year, Dad told me that he felt it was time to make this transition. He was clear that he wanted me to lead, and I knew it was what God was asking of me as well. When Rod agreed that he was all in, and our kids responded positively, it was settled for us and the work of planning began.

One thing that has freed me was the realization that Rod and I don't have to be "John and Helen." My parents are big personalities, wise and loving and connected. They are like parents to so many people, which is amazing. I am biased, but I'm in awe of them and so proud of them. I'm going to lead a little differently, and I'm empowered to do that. If there is anything that makes me excited about leading, it's that I might inspire people who have so much potential and strength who are currently holding back because they think their voice or energy isn't needed. I hope that young (or old!) people look at me and think "If she can do this, I can step up too." That's my prayer. We need everyone on board, pressing in, to build Relate Church in this season. We know our strength is in the team. If we were looking for the slickest, smoothest communicator to be the next Lead Pastor we would have gone in a different direction. I'm excited to raise an army of brilliant communicators, but I'm even more committed to growing a church that's completely changed by Jesus, secure in their freedom, changing their world.

I shared on Vision Weekend that this position wasn't my dream. Some people weren't sure what to make of that statement. I said it purposefully, because I hope we all re-evaluate our plans in light of what the need is and what our gifts are. While I am drawn to to creating, writing and studying in solitude, I have seen that the call on my life is much greater than my preferences. In fact, I've learned that my introverted nature is a great strength because it allows me to really see people and understand culture in a way that lets me lead strategically. I have been and will continue to do work to grow in my gifts to better serve our church, and I'm cool with feeling uncomfortable in this season. My word for this year is PRESS and that's exactly how this feels. Rod and I are embracing the stretch. While it wasn't the original dream, that has definitely changed!

 

Were you chosen because you're their daughter?

I'm sure people wonder about the issue of nepotism. Did I get the job because I'm related? I hope not. I'd be angry if I thought that there was privilege involved. As pastors' kids my sisters and I have always felt more pressure to serve harder, be extra humble, and carry responsibility quietly because we're aware of the perceptions out there. We weren't looking for a family member to take on this lead role, but I happen to be family. My parents are big cheerleaders and they are vocal in their support for our family, no question. It's who they are. (They extend this kind of support to many people, pastors across the globe and team here at home, too.) I can't worry about defending myself, but I'd encourage people to look at our track record. We aren't afraid of that. We would be just as committed if there was another leader stepping in.

 

Can a woman pastor the church?

Right - there's that little detail! If this is your home church, you know that we are about empowering both men and women. We believe that both men and women are called to use their gifts in every capacity of the local church. We think the world needs all of us, all ages and genders and backgrounds. It may be a surprise to hear that we will have a woman in the lead role, or you may have had questions from others about this. We will address this question in detail soon so that there is clarity and so that you can answer questions well.

I've personally only ever known church to be a community where both men and women lead. My parents operate in partnership and were ordained together. We've had women serving in pastoral roles since the beginning at Relate Church. We hope this isn't an issue that divides and we have great respect for other churches who may interpret scripture differently than we do.

People will often quote from 1 Timothy 2 when questioning women as pastors or church leaders, where it says that women are to be silent and aren't permitted to teach or have authority over a man. It goes on to say that Adam was formed first, then Eve. We interpret this to be referring to her marriage, her relationship to her husband, as it refers to Adam and Eve. A woman shouldn't lead in church if she dominates her husband (a man = her man) and usurps authority from him. If you read on in 1 Timothy 3 there are also some guidelines for men in ministry and how they're to be committed to their (one) wife, sober and not violent or greedy, etc. Paul was addressing cultural issues that were valid then, and largely still are. Our marriage is our top priority and if Rod wasn't completely committed to where we are going I wouldn't feel comfortable taking on this role. 

We believe that scripture must be evaluated in light of culture to make sense of what we're called to walk in today. 1 Corinthians 11 tell us that men must have their heads uncovered in worship, and women must have their heads covered... Men must not have long hair, but on women long hair is glorious. Obviously these are cultural issues addressing that time in history, not foundational to Christianity. However, we will continue to talk about this as a church and we encourage you to do some research as well. We've been encouraged by the recent succession announcement at Willow Creek Church, where a woman is taking the lead role. We've also seen Hillsong Church recently launch a new plant in Israel with a female pastor. These are exciting days, where God is pouring out his Spirit on all people - his sons and his daughters. 

I've already seen the growth that is ahead for our church, and so I'm in. We're in. We are so grateful for what has been built over the last 32 years and we are pumped to champion our incredible dream team and church family to bring the message of hope that we have to multitudes more. We believe that the best days are ahead for my parents as they have more freedom and capacity to mentor leaders and preach on a greater platform. Rod and I are so thankful for our pastors, our team, and our church. Thank you for your encouragement. God bless you for praying! When I put my hand up, I was counting on you to go with us. We need your prayer more than ever, and we are committed to praying for you. We know the best days are ahead for Relate Church.  

Angela Doell

  Vision Service - February 4, 2018

Vision Service - February 4, 2018

 

Child-Like Faith

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘child like faith’? 

The first thought that pops in my head is this picture I had in my children’s bible: Jesus sitting on a rock holding a lamb, surrounded by 6 year old children raptly listening to him speak. They’re quiet, mouths shut. I think one of them may have been smiling? 

Does this sound right to you? Kids sitting there silently? 

Let’s think of how kids truly are: rambunctious, fearless, faithful, trusting, welcoming. They are open to whatever comes their way. They are curious about the wonders of the world, seen and unseen. They ask ALL. THE. QUESTIONS. I don’t think Jesus is afraid of our questions or rambunctious nature. 

In a healthy family, children trust their parents with everything. They know they are loved, protected, and cared for. They aren’t left wondering if their parent or guardian will be there for them - they just know. Have you ever had a child jump in to your arms without giving you a warning, and you just thank God you were paying attention enough to catch them? They are so trusting, they don’t even think that you not catching them is in the realm of possibility.

Or how about this one: have you ever lost your child in a mall? 

When I was about three or four years old, I was at a shopping centre with my mom and grandma. It was a really big mall, maybe the largest one around at the time. We were in a store, and I was standing beside my mom, who was looking at a wall of items. At this time, I suppose I decided that this store was too boring, and wandered out in to the vast open spaces of the mall. I was lost for a while, and I can just imagine my mother and grandma frantically looking for me. While I was wandering about, I had a very kind family help me and stay with me, and I eventually was reunited with my mother. 

Not once while I was lost did I worry about anything. It never occurred to me to be afraid, and it never entered my mind to wonder if my mom would find me again. In my mind, my mom knew where I was at all times.

As adults, it’s so easy for us to become cynical and see our Father’s love through a filter. Many of us have been betrayed, abused, swindled, abandoned, and cheated. At the very least, at some point in our lives, we have all felt the crushing feeling of being disappointed. So, we filter our trust in God through these experiences. Trust me, I have done this, and sometimes I catch myself doing it.

In Matthew 19, some parents brought their kids to be blessed by Jesus, but his disciples tried to shoo them away. In verse 14, it says “…but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop [hinder] them,because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like these children [meaning humble and dependent].” (EXB)

Let’s return to the time in our life when our love for God knew no filters, before we learned that people were imperfect and made mistakes, and were capable of hurting and disappointing us. Let’s depend on God and trust him, kind of like how I depended and trusted that my mom knew where I was (even though I am sure she was frantic!). And, although my mother was probably freaking out, God isn’t. He wants us to come to him like kids do, fully dependant and reliant on him.

  BRANDI-LEE DOUCETTE

BRANDI-LEE DOUCETTE

 

Relate Valley Interest Meeting :: March 3

RC VALLEY.jpg

Hey Church!

We're ONE week out from our first interest meeting for the brand new VALLEY campus.

We believe so strongly that God has something amazing planned for each and every one of us as we undertake this new adventure and even more so that he has amazing things in store for the city and people of Abbotsford. 

As the day draws closer - we wanted to fill you in on the necessary details for our get-together. Here's what you need to know:

Where: Relate Church Foyer - 6788 152 Street, Surrey

We're planning on venturing out to various locations in the Valley as we move forward with our meetings, but to start - we want to remember where we, as a church, are coming from. We have found so much life and so much purpose within the walls and community of a life-giving church and we want to make sure we acknowledge that as we go forward. I can't think of a better place to start.

When: Saturday, March 3rd @ 2 PM

We're expecting to gather for a little over an hour, but we're not going to rush anyone out of the building either. We're excited to meet you!

What: A chance to get to know each other. A time to eat snacks and drink coffee and hear a bit of our heart and our vision for our beautiful city.

We're so excited to see you there!

Much love,

Dan and Cassandra Comrie