January marks the start of the Emmanuel Tree Project, a one year initiative in which we will be deliberately and prayerfully transforming Emmanuel.
Broken is the traditional church model of “attracting” new members by offering programs and services to meet their faith needs. The size of the “market” of church-attending Christians is falling at an alarming rate. In this past month’s Observer, one article forecast that by 2025 there will only be 25,000 Canadians regularly attending worship at United Churches, down from 160,000 today. So if the church that we know today cannot continue, what does God want the new church look like? Thankfully, our journey at Emmanuel over the last 5 years has given us a glimpse into that future. Through active community engagement in mission, with programs like the Bridgeport Cafe we have been able to transform our faith community and building into an ecosystem of action. Through our programs and by networking with other community-minded groups like the Working Centre, people and organizations looking to serve their own call to mission are now regularly approaching Emmanuel.
So what is next? Each one of us has part of the answer. Over the next year, the Emmanuel Tree Project will be exposing us to new opportunities for service, helping us find our individual and collective passions and then facilitating action.
This week we celebrate our rich tradition in service with the goal of honoring the generations that have come before us and reminding us of what great things our faith community can accomplish. Over the coming weeks, there will be four visioning services planned around the Tree Project, with the goal of helping us discover the passions that will drive our Emmanuel generation. The themes for these services will be:
- The Stranger – Exploring the challenges of new Canadians
- The Prisoner – Understanding the experience of those in our correctional system
- The Homeless – Exploring how to best serve those living in the margins of our community
- The Sick – Understanding the role and opportunities for faith in healing
Many of you are already active in mission in these areas. If you would like to join us in preparing these visioning services, please contact Bruce Sweet or Dave Petro.