5 Trending Themes for 2015: Join A Movement!

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Jan 282015

Trending 1I’m a guy who likes to sift through all the information we get thrown at us everyday, and distill things down to a few key ideas that are like signposts pointing me in the right direction for how I should spend my time, energy, and money. These themes have been rising to the surface again and again in my conversations, the music I listen to – or my kids listen to, the social media banter, the books, magazines, and papers I read, the movies I watch, or in the reoccuring thoughts that percolate in my mind as I stop and reflect.  

These trending threads help me map out my priorities for the nextClues year and beyond. They are like clues to what God might be up to, and where His life and activity might be found! That’s where I want to be found.

The fact of the matter is that these themes are not that avant garde. They are old ideas that transcend time because they are God ideas that work whether you believe in God or not!

These trending themes are growing into grassroots movements as more and more people start to repattern their lives one by one, and live these ideas.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I think these ideas may resonate with what you may have been feeling, thinking, and hearing like a tuning fork ringing true inside of you. By living these ideas, you and I can be part of joining organic movements changing the world one person at a time. Pretty amazing!

1. Dive into Neighbouring and Community Transformation:

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.” John 1:14

This idea of neighbouring has been popping up wherever I turn.neighbouring 2 From the front page of a Macleans magazine, the August 18, 2014 edition, entitled Stop Ingnoring Your Neighbours; to books on the art of neighbouring; to the upcoming World Vision leaders forum for church leaders going across Canada in 2015 entitled Neigbourhood Mappingwww.churches.worldvision.ca (come out to the heart and soul forum for leaders on April 8 in Calgary); to church planting experiments bubbling up such as the Parish Collective. There is something exciting going on that I want to be a part of.

The longing to belong, to simplify one’s life, to put down roots, and to work together to find solutions to the problems of crime, poverty, and loneliness right where we live is igniting a grassroots movement. 

Folks are falling in love with their neighborhoods, and digging in for the long haul to see their neighborhoods transformed into places of beauty, harmony, and abundance. “

Without great fanfare, people are serving their neighborhoods inGiving and Receing 2 ordinary ways with extra-ordinary results. There is a ground swell of normal folks joining and volunteering in community associations, coaching sports in their neighborhood, putting on block parties, and renovating the homes of those who can’t afford it. Neighbours are becoming friends and getting involved in each other’s lives.

Folks are choosing to shop in their neighborhood, work and start businessess in their neighborhood even when its not as financially lucrative. People are working together to find solutions to what ever ills plague their neighborhood with the aim of making their hood the best place to live.

Churches are calling their parishioners to move into the neighbourhood where they meet, and become part of the fabric of that hood!

This journey of transformation is happening in my neighbourhood of Bowness and I love it. There is no other place I would rather live in our city of Calgary. This last Christmas I watched volunteers from our hood, both church and folks who don’t go to church, put on a meal for about 400 neighbours including the elderly and less fortunate or lonely. What an awesome place to live.

This idea of community transformation is also impacting how we get involved in the developing world. Rather than simply throwing money at the problem, we are becoming friends with communities living in poverty, and walking with them to find local solutions that will provide clean water and sanitation, health care, food, education for the children, and jobs through micro-enterprises. Communities are overcoming poverty and having their dignity restored as they become transformed in everyway.

How could you offer up your gifts and abilities to serve and love your neighbourhood? Do you know your neighbour by name, and have you ever had them in your home for a meal or coffee? Get your church involved with World Vision and adopt a community in the developing world. www.churches.worldvision.ca/gpo

2. Start Partnering and Sharing: 

“The whole congregation of beleivers was united as one-one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, ‘That’s mine; you can’t have it.” Acts 4:32

Giving and receiving 4All around us we seeing the growing trend of sharing demonstrated through enterprises such as community gardens, car sharing, couch surfing, churches sharing buildings, or businesses sharing knowledge such as in the case of finding a vaccine for Ebola. The idea that we can do it on our own, and that it is better to compete than collaborate is proving to be a bankrupt idea in all arenas of life. The silo mentality of hoarding and not sharing has been found wanting.

Investing in the slow journey of building trust in relationships between people in teams, between departments in businesses, and between churches so that we gladly share our resources of knowledge, time, money, and people with each other is the key to real partnering and sharing. 

I am starting to see large churches partnering and sharing resources with small organic missional communities with no strings attached. I’m seeing small churches in neighbourhoods banding together to reach their hoods while letting go of their proclivity to protect their turf out of the fear of losing members. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see large businesses help up-start companies with capital and coaching! Yes, helping out the competition. I believe we can win by losing.

Partnering and sharing is not taking advantage of another for personal gain, but looking for ways to further unleash each others little dreams like creeks that flow together to become a mighty River!”

Who are you partnering with where out of trust you would willingly share your time, energy, money, and knowledge to see a dream come true?

3. Live Peace and Justice: 

“Work for Justice, Help the down-and- out. Stand up for the homeless, Go to bat for the defenseless.” Is. 1:17

The song of justice is being sung all around us if we listen. From thePeace and Justice bands U2 to Rise Against, the call to action is being sung loud and clear. The exploitation of children and women for sex or work slaves is wrong and must be stopped. The gross injustice of not paying workers enough to support their families in the developing world, so that we can have cheaper clothes is wrong. Not being able to go to school or have clean drinking water and 3 healthy meals a day is simply incomprehensible . The genocide of minority groups happening today is unfathomable and an evil that needs to be confronted and overcome with a revolution of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation!

The solution to these injustices is not to fight them with violence which begets more violence, but by going to the root of the problems and finding positive and creative solutions to overcome poverty and injustice.

We need a movement of peace makers who will not be afraid to expose and confront evil, yet give their lives to go in the opposite spirit of loving their enemies to overwhelm evil and darkness with goodness and light.”

children in povertyStart by sponsoring a child living in poverty! Sponsor Now  Get involved in advocacy to stop the exploitation of children and women. Check out www.worldvision.ca for practical ways to get involved in advocacy, and giving to children, families and communities in need because of natural disasters or because of war in fragile states. Be a peace maker where there is a conflict happening in your family, work place or neighbourhood!

 4. Be or Find a Hidden Catalyst: 

“This is the assigned moment for him to move to the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” John 3:30 

Cow catcherOther words that might describe thise folks are pioneers, poets, entrepreneurs, apostolic, artists, or innovators who are change agents who don’t give a rip about popular opinion, and will swim upstream against the current. 

Most of these folk have spent time in obscurity, the wilderness, and been tested so that their message carries weight and has been birthed in the cauldron of testing and suffering.

They know what its like to be the cow catcher on the front of the train and be hit by the proverbial poop!

This ilk of people are committed to start things, connect people, and then get out of the way not caring who gets the credit. They are willing to pay the cost for some ‘big ideas’ that are worth giving their lives for.

In this day and age of fame and glory seeking, inflated egos and narcissim, protecting of one’s turf, and taking credit for what’s not ours, we need a movement of initiators who willing fade into the shadows.

Hidden catalysts have caught a vision of the ‘Big Story’ and are more concerned about God’s Kingdom being advanced than building their own brand, company, or little personal kingdom.”

They think out of the box and present new ways of doing thingsout of the box that may challenge the status quo.

This movement of initiators and innovators love diversity and are not threatened by people who are different from them. In fact they befriend and gather around them those who are of a different worldview, ethnic background, personality, and gift mix to compliment who they are.

Do you have an idea or dream for something you’d like to start? Would you be willing to call a few friends together and initiate an idea or dream? What testing or winter season are you going through to prepare you to steward the message or dream you carry? Do you have some friends or co-creators around you who think and do life in a different way than you?

5. Link Arms with and Follow the Next Generation:

“Don’t let anyone put you down because you are young.” I Timothy 4:12

Next GenerationMost movements are started by young people in their teens and early 20’s. Young people have hope and are crazy enough to experiment with and try some outlandish things. Most of them have not become so jaded that their hope of making a difference has been snuffed out of them or buried deep within them.

For my own salvation, and as an antidote for my own cynicism, I need to hang around the next generation. They keep me young, and perhaps I will have the privlege of holding onto their shirt tails, and hitching a ride as they initiate movements that will make our world a better place.”

They will be the ones to start spiritual revivals and renewals. They will spear head the quest for ways to care for and steward our environment while also managing the economy in such a way that the wealth of this planet is shared by all in sustainable ways. Their bright minds will find cures to diseases such as cancer or Ebola.

Now that I’ve turned 50, I realize that its not about me anymore. Its about my way of doing things, and promoting my personal tastes or agendas. In the next season of my life, I am called to serve the next generation, and be a cheer leader and champion for them. If and when asked, maybe I will have a few words of wisdom to impart, but mostly I will learn from them.

What will church look like for my kids? I know they seek spirituality that is real, raw, and relevant; community where every voice is heard, decisions and learning happen through community discernment and discussion, and where there is a sharing of life together that goes beyond a meeting. They want to be part of a mission which involves doing the works of Jesus which may earn us the right to say a few words.

We are living in exciting days, and I’m convinced that this nextYouth Movement generation will lead us into new frontiers where we taste and experience more of Heaven coming to earth!

Who is a teenager or 20 something that is right in front of you that would love to spend time with you? Cheer on, champion, and join the experiments, artitstic endeavours, and causes of the young adults around you. Let them lead by walking with them!

To embrace and live the above themes will take ‘much grace’ – all of God’s resources to be and to do what He has called us to be and do. The #5 is the number for grace and as this is the year 2015, I believe that God is offering us much grace if we show up where He’s at work. So go have fun tripping into the Kingdom in 2015!


Tim Schultz


Hope: Living Good News in the Midst of Bad News

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Jan 092015

Hope 2The economy of fear is big business in our world. Fear is what sells news, books, horror and apocalyptic movies about the end of the world, insurance, and is a key driver behind much of the health/pharmaceutical industry. Whether it is the Ebola crisis, the stock market and oil prices plummeting, the war against terrorism both in the Middle East and on our shores, global warming and the extinction of species, we are being bombarded with bad news that preys on our worst fears. 

This unhealthy diet of bad news is fueling a pandemic of either resigned fatalism on the one hand or radical fanaticism and unrealized triumphalism on the other hand. 

Fatalism born out of despair is like a fog or darkness choking out theFear 2 light. It seeps into our brains, and our emotions convincing us that it doesn’t matter what we do because this world is going to hell in a hand basket. So we cover our eyes, and hope this is all a bad dream that will go away. We are numbed into inaction. We lose hope and give up. We start to see the world as grey rather as a world full of colour!

Proverbs 13:12 describes it this way: “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.”

Sinking ship 1Even some of our theology, reflected in the recent end times movie, Left Behind starring Nicolas Cage, feeds into a doom and gloom worldview in which this world is like a sinking, burning ship.  Our only hope is to put on the life jacket of personal salvation to give us hell insurance, and to be our ticket into heaven in the afterlife. The best we can do is huddle in our life boat with a few other chosen folks – the church – waiting for Jesus to come airlift us out of this mess.

Now I am not suggesting that we live in despair, or buyPlanet of the Apes into the debunked and dying Enlightenment doctrine of truimphalism that promised through science, technology, and the power of humanism everything would get better and better until we reached utopia. Our experiment in hoping that the evolved human race could reach the heights of replacing God and fix all that ails us has not produced the end result we had hoped for. The movie The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an interesting commentary on the consequences of our hubris as a human race.

With all of our intellect and innovations, we have not been able to eradicate the heinous evils of genocide and ethnic cleansing, or stop the exploitation of children and women. Our progress and rampant greed has led to the raping and destruction of the natural resources and environment for profit. With all our advances we still have not been able to wipe out diseases such as cancer. These stark realities are humbling.

Fanaticism in religion has not fared any better. We can see daily the ugly fruit of  its various iterations such as: Dominion theology – the belief that we are to rule over all the earth by taking over the power structures of every sector (politics, religion, education, business, entertainment, ect.) of our society and setting up a prototype of God’s physical kingdom on earth …kinda like what Constantine the Roman emperor did in the 4th century when he made Christianity the state religion, or what Calvin tried by being a spiritual dictator and trying to set up a theocracy in Geneva in the 16th century, or ISIS in Iraq and Syria today.

Fear 1Another expression is the Manifest Destiny theology. We see this especially in the the political and religious right wing camps in North America. This is the belief that we are God’s favourites with His backing to promote and spread our brand of politics and religion. The extremes of the above are found in Fundamentalist theologies that use God to rationalize and justify the use of fear, force, and even violence to enforce their worldview, doctrine, and morality.

These doctrines have not worked, and have even back fired to create more Bad News!

Much of the bad stuff happening out there we can try to hold at arms length. What happens when it hits close to home? This last year we as a family had to live through the sudden bad news that Esther, my wife and mother of our 3 boys, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. When I heard the news it was like someone had punched me in the stomach. Why Esther? Esther is one of the nicest people I know. She eats healthy, has no history of breast cancer in her family, and doesn’t smoke or drink at all. Haven’t we had our fair share of hard stuff happen to us?

The question is not whether we will face bad news, but how do we face the reality of bad news in our lives, and not succumb to negativity, fear, despair, or a fatalistic resignation to simply circle the wagons and hope bad stuff doesn’t happen to us?

Hope 1The answer is found in the word Hope. What is Hope? How does hope help us walk out being Good News when we experience bad news in our lives? How does hope motivate us to do our part to make this world a better place in the here and now?

My two Heroes of Hope are my wife Esther and Jesus who have been examples of how to live Good News in the midst of bad news. Below are the ways that they have showed me what walking out hope looks like.

1. Hope is letting go of the notion that life is fair. Bad things happen to good people and it simply doesn’t make sense. The sooner we stop trying to figure out all the answers to the ‘Why’ questions the sooner we get on with living life. Esther has not let bitterness creep in to her heart by becoming angry and blaming God. She has not let herself get stuck in the muck of self-pity by focusing on the ‘Why me?’ question. Instead she has accepted the fact that life is full of mystery, and that she wants something beautiful to come out of her journey. She has been honest with the fact that cancer sucks, but she will not let this awful disease rob her of living life with joy.

2. Hope is a posture of alert expectancy for good to come out of the bad! (from the Message Rom 5:5). It is believing for the best and not giving into fear. Hope is first and foremost a choice to be postive even when things look bleak.

My wife Esther has been a living example of this unfailing optimism in how she has walked through the last year of battling cancer. Instead of feeling sorry for herself she has lived every day to the full with an expectancy that she will be healed. Her joy and peace through it all lifted the anxiety and fear that could have settled over our boys. 

The Good News is that we believe God has healed her from the cancer through both the health care she received and through the prayers of so many! Today she feels great and the past year seem surreal. Her perspective is that it could have been much worse. She sees her scars as a mark of grace…kinda like a tatoo she didn’t have to pay for! She has a story of hope to share with others of how God can turn the bad around for good. 

3. Hope is an attitude of being thankful for every good gift even when you face the bad stuff. Right from the get go Esther has modeled being grateful for the fact that the cancer was caught early (Stage 1), that she had one of the best surgeons in the city, that she didn’t have to have a mastectomy, that she came through radiation with little side effects, and that she is deeply loved by so many. Esther doesn’t seek attention and shies away from the limelight, so it was cool to see her become the center of so much attention and pampering!

4. Hope is an action! We live hope when we do something to makeHope 3 this world a better place. Every act of service like shoveling your neighbour’s side walk, every smile, every time we recycle, every time we forgive an offence, every moment spent creating something beautiful like a poem, painting, or song, we live hope in action. It is doing our part to be an answer to the problems plaguing our world. 

Let’s be advocates for justice by supporting a child from a needy community through World Vision or Compassion, or lobbying our government for tougher laws against child exploitation! Let’s be peace keepers by mediating between two parties in conflict, or by becoming a friend of a person from another part of the world or religion than our own.

Let’s encourage the Next Generation that they have a purpose for being on planet earth. Through their talents and gifts they can make this world a better place by discovering cures to cancer or Ebola, by finding and inventing renewable sources of energy, and by working to eradicate poverty through education, health, food and water, well paying jobs being available for all!

5. Hope is found in the person of Jesus and His promise of a coming Kingdom. The Grand Dream that I wait for, live for, and work for is a day that is coming where every wrong will be made right, where the earth will be renewed in all its beauty and harmony, where there will be peace and reconciliation in every relationship and between every race and religion! A day where there will be no more poverty, sickness, death or tears!  Jesus promises to come and complete His restoration plan for this world. Let it be so and let us live so no matter what we face.


Tim Schultz