If you haven't heard, I am leaving my position at the church in January. Following is a brief description of what I hope to do next (and if you want to be a part of it, send me your email address and I'll loop you in to my future newsletter).
One of the most compelling tenets of the Christian faith is the belief that God made all things, and that all truth is God’s truth. According to the bible, the universe, ecosystems, economies, cities, families, schools, art, and work were all made in, through and for Christ (Jn 1:1-3, Col 1:16, Heb 1:2).
It’s a huge idea, and for the past 25 years I have been engaging and unpacking God’s truth wherever I’ve found it—in the arts, music, sport, work, education, politics, and science. Something compelling would grab my attention, I’d research it and theologically unpack it, and then I’d write a sermon for Sunday morning church. While this approach has connected with some, I’m now wondering if there is another way forward…. a ‘next’ way.
What if, instead of expecting people to come into a church building to hear this kind of spiritual conversation, I went to them? What if the ‘Engaging God Everywhere’ discussion moved into the public sphere and played out in different places, at different times, and in different ways?
Looking back, I can now see how God has been growing a culturally-attuned voice in me—one that seems to connect with people who aren’t into the idea of church.
God has used this voice in unique ways—in the media, through the writing of books, at work, and via an uncanny number of cultural connections, i.e. Metallica, Blue Jays, Supertramp, Calgary mayoral contacts, and many cross-cultural experiences in the fields of science, art, and sport.
Sometimes God has spoken through this voice in different places—at the TELUS Spark Science Centre, the new Central Library, in university classrooms, at conferences, and on various online platforms. Many of these events had a larger, city-wide, kind of energy.
Looking back, I think the growth of this voice has been intentional and I believe that God is now calling me to lean into it more—so that those who don’t connect with church can still connect with God.
What would this look like?
I’m imagining all kinds of creative gatherings, including:
1. An INTERVIEW with Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek; exploring the intersection of civic leadership and spirituality, hosted at the Central Library, before a small crowd of people, livestreamed, recorded, posted on social media, shaped into a news article, and housed on a new ‘allthings’ website. This interview is already scheduled for January 18th.
2. A FIELD TRIP to a Lyme Disease research lab at the University of Calgary where the work of the lab is theologically unpacked—live. Scientists, students, and interested others from around the city/world will be invited to virtually attend an event that will also be recorded, posted, and perhaps translated into a ‘faith and science’ magazine article. This event is currently in its early planning stages.
3. A THEOLOGICAL DEEP DIVE into a local business. I’m now talking to an Alberta brewery and exploring the idea of theologically exploring the entire company. How exactly does an entrepreneur or a brew master image God? What does the science of beer making say about the empirical mind of God? This project may turn into a beer-lovers handbook.
4. A COMMUNITY WORKSHOP on the theology of work, science, or art, hosted by a local business, lab, or artist collective. Ideas include: lawyers meeting downtown to hear about how their work echoes God’s advocating heart, ecologists gathered to unpack the sacred nature of the Bow River watershed, and artists theologically engaging the gift of creativity at C-Space.
5. A UNIVERSITY SEMINAR/CAPSTONE COURSE hosted at a faith-based institution where the vocational image bearing nature of students (from all disciplines) will be discussed and unpacked. Over the past month I’ve spoken to 4 different university groups, at various stages in their education, and experienced a profound sense of calling and connection with them. The idea will be to help them engage God in their new vocations.
6. A PUBLIC LECTURE on the theology of science at a local university (this has already happened twice), or on the theology of work (this happened at the New Central Library a few years ago with Calgary mayor Nenshi playing a part), or on the theology of neurodiversity, country music, urban history, sports, etc. The topical options are endless.
7. And, of course, the writing of a few MORE BOOKS.
Alongside these larger monthly community events, I’m imagining a lot of online networking playing out—to help foster deeper spiritual growth and provide personal interaction for those tracking with this project.
For those interested, an ‘allthings’ website will also be built—with personal supports for spiritual growth including short ‘engaging God everywhere’ reels, ‘how to experience God in creation’ study materials, lessons on discernment and listening, curated reading lists, and other more formal day-to-day spiritual practices. A monthly newsletter—pulling it all together—will also part of the communication plan (send me your email address and I’ll put you on the list!).
How will this be supported?
By those who want to be part of this kind of new faith community! A donations portal has now been graciously setup by Riverpark Church. Anyone wanting to support this project can make a donation to “Riverpark CRC: for ‘allthings’” (and receive a charitable receipt) via three means:
1. E-transfer to email@example.com (marking the donation ‘for allthings’)
2. Online donation* via Canada Helps (who take a small % but allow credit cards)
3. By cheque* mailed to Riverpark Church, 3818-14a St SW, Calgary, AB, T2T3Y2
*any donation marked ‘allthings’ will go toward this new project. Please include your full name and mailing address in the 'notes' section so that we can mail you a charitable receipt.
To make this workable, I plan to reduce my income expectation by 70%, step into a part-time staff arrangement, and draw a .3FTE salary for the first year (if the funds are available!).
Of course, there is a lot to still be worked out—budgets to be built, websites designed, and details to be ironed out—but these are the broad strokes of what God has put on my heart for the year ahead. While this is a huge step of faith for our family, it’s one we know we need to take. We are very excited to see where God takes this.
“See, I am doing a new thing!”
God via the prophet Isaiah, 43:19