How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! – Psalm 133:1 (NRSV)
This week I discovered that many Canaan EM brothers and sisters have been blessed with deep friendships that have lasted for many years. I believe that these close relationships have helped sustain us through difficult times this year. But friendships alone won’t rebuild our sense of community and purpose at Canaan. As we enter different life stages, the intimacy we experienced when we were younger will diminish. The demands of study, work, marriage, and child rearing inevitably loosen our friendship ties. So what can be done?
Some say that we must equip more mature believers who are Christ-centered and Spirit-filled. Others say that well-coordinated and better planned programs are also needed. All good points. But having mature Christians implement great programs won’t be enough. In fact, godly believers often sever ties when particular ministry visions diverge (e.g., Paul and Barnabas). Vision and culture-making are key.
What is our vision for Canaan’s English ministry? If we can articulate our vision, we will be ready to rebuild community and ministry. Currently, I’m working closely with our English Ministry Leadership Team (staff, elders, and deacons) to discern and cast God’s vision for us. We are getting input from leaders of the Taiwanese and Mandarin ministries, too. But we especially value suggestions from all English ministry members. We want to answer the questions “why do I want to be part of this community?” and “why would I want to invite others to join this community?”
But casting vision alone won’t rebuild our community and ministry. We must create a culture that reflects this unique vision. Culture is created as we consciously engage in activities and practices that are inspired by vision. We create our new Canaan EM culture when we gather to worship every Sunday and re-engage God’s vision for us. We create our new culture when we organize special events for returning college students and let them know we love them. We create our new culture when we compose praise songs or create artwork that reflect our rootedness in Canaan’s story. We create our new culture each time we produce something in Christ’s name that also emerges from our participation in Canaan.
When all is said and done, vision and culture-making engenders a feeling of unity not based on existing relationships. Rather, they give birth to fresh, new friendships that are centered on Christ’s vision and mission for Canaan. These are the kinds of relationships that last. I guarantee it!
I look forward to hearing from you! See you Friday and Sunday!
Interim English Pastor