of maple leaves and chickadees

There is something so strange about the turning of the leaves each Autumn. From the perspective of our culture and our lives, there is something almost shocking about the leaves turning from green to yellow and orange and red.

It happens every Autumn, of course. As the temperatures begin to drop during the day, and the temperatures begin to drop over night, the production of chlorophyll slows down in the leaves. As the production of chlorophyll slows, the deeper colours of the leaves are slowly unmasked, and some new colours are created. The hills of our city and the parks of our city and the streets of our city become a canvas alive with fire and light. For just a few short weeks our world takes on new and remarkable character – we observe a beauty we could hardly have imagined just a few short weeks ago.

But why would I say that this changing of the leaves is strange? And why would I say that the turning of the leaves to yellow and orange and red is almost shocking from the perspective of our culture? Continue reading

6 reasons pastors shouldn’t focus on church growth

Carey Nieuwhof, pastor of Connexus Community Church in Barrie, has written a blog post on 8 reasons most churches never break the 200 attendance mark. I thought I’d offer a reply, though in truth I’m not really interested in how congregations might break that apparently important threshold – or why they don’t. I’m more interested in the preoccupation itself – the preoccupation with breaking the 200 threshold.

Nieuwhof is by no means the first writer/blogger to focus on that magic number. I’ve come across it elsewhere, in passing. And one can only presume that there is a wealth of religious and sociological literature out there that explains and defends the importance of the all-important 200 attendance mark.

Before getting to my 8 reasons (actually, I only have 6) for this preoccupation with the 200 threshold, it is important to know that this is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Otherwise put, this focus on achieving and surpassing a numeric level finds its home in modernism – philosophically and culturally speaking. There is nothing timeless or essential about it. For 2000 years the church has not lived its intention to ‘reach people for Christ ‘ in such terms – only in the modern period has such thinking and acting become possible.

I’m not saying that the church has never talked about numbers (just read Acts and you’ll see otherwise), but the church for the vast majority of its history did not talk about numbers in this way. Continue reading