Any questions at all?

People aren't looking for a church. They are looking for a ministry

I love real questions. Real questions can lead to real answers.

In the May 18 edition of this paper, in an article titled “Fun or Done,” Nicole Vaugeois, the B.C. regional innovation chair in tourism and sustainable rural development at Vancouver Island University, was reported as saying: “Most destinations spend most of their time and money selling their destination, but most visitors spend most of their time and money seeking amazing experiences. The destination is where they have the experiences. My suggestion is to stop thinking about destination development and start thinking about visitor experience development.”

The simplest response to a statement like this is “I agree” or “I disagree.” Either can be a great start to some real questions leading to real answers.

“What kinds of experiences are people that come to Vancouver Island looking for?

“What kinds of experiences might draw people to our area, and are those kinds of experiences in keeping with what we want our area to be about?”

“Are we satisfied with our area simply being about a year round experience of being a quiet place, in a beautiful setting?”

Or, more basic. “Is this true?  …   Really. I need to know, is this true?”

Vaugeois’ statement struck me, because I recently listened to a talk by Dr. Reginald Bibby, who holds the Board of Governors Research Chair in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lethbridge, discussing the research findings reported in his most recent book titled Beyond the Gods and Back.

In this talk Bibby stated: “In all my years of research, I have never heard someone say they are looking for a church. People aren’t looking for a church, they are looking for ministry.”

Like the statement about tourists, this invites some real questions. Just substitute “Vancouver Island” or “area” with “church.”

But real questions can make us … uncomfortable. As a result, often we don’t ask them. Instead, those of us in organizations, whether a church, or a city, respond with statements or questions that enable us to simply dismiss, or ignore the realities the statement might reveal.

I hope some real questions are asked as a result of the “Fun or Done” article.

I have seen their value. Real questions changed my life. My own questions, and others, took me from being a happy, atheist-agnostic young adult, to being a joyful 57-year-old child of God, who continues to learn from Jesus.

Bibby’s research suggests that spiritual guidance is the ministry most people are looking for from a church.

So, I invite you to bring your questions, your real questions about spiritual guidance, to any of the Christian congregations and leaders in this area.

To get this started, yesterday I asked the people present in my study: “What questions have you heard from people, and how have you answered them?”

I hadn’t given them advance warning, and that made it difficult for them to come up with an answer, so I asked them another question I have heard from many people who are wondering what earthly good faith in Christ is: “What difference has Jesus made in your life?”

In 10 minutes, all five had given an answer.

“Without Jesus, and being a child of God, I don’t know how I would cope with living with all the problems in this world.”

“He gives me hope to carry on in the differences we have with people and the difficulties we have in life.”

“He enables me to unload all my problems and trust God will take care of it in His way.”

“He is a source .. of power, companionship, love, compassion, understanding, patience … all that is good.”

“He is the one stability in my life I can trust for guidance, which gives me peace.”

One person said a question he has heard is: “If God knows everything, it’s already decided whether I will be in heaven. So why believe?”

His answer to this: “God knows, but I don’t. We just know what God tells us in the Scriptures: We must believe in Jesus who died for our sins and gives us faith in God’s goodness.”

I know some of you have some real questions about this. I would love to hear them.

 

 

Pastor Craig Tufts, Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Parksville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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