Our New Vision
Attached is the revised vision proposal for Marda Loop Church (along with a summary of congregational input from our June 11th meeting).
We’d like to thank you for participating in the process and sharing your thoughts.
As promised, the leadership team has reviewed all input and has incorporated ideas that align with the benefits we’re seeking through this new vision into this updated proposal (the additions/changes are underlined).
We understand that changing from a Sunday-centric church to an Engaging-God-Everywhere church is challenging for some. We want to encourage everyone to simply try it out over the next year by actively engaging the ‘everyday’ materials we’ll be producing, joining a small group, sharing your community service ideas, leading something new, or simply following and engaging the church community on social media. Who knows what new things God may have for you?
As a leadership team we are hopeful for our church, and we trust that the ‘God who does new things’ is with us on this journey.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
God via the prophet Isaiah, 43:19, NIV
Thank you for being a part of the MLC community. If you have any questions or comments about this proposal revision (or anything else), please reach out to any of the leadership team members below.
Your MLC Leadership Team
Daryll Harrison (chair) – Dgharrison44@gmail.com
Rita Burkhard – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rayne Thompson – email@example.com
Dirk Vrielink – firstname.lastname@example.org
John Van Sloten – email@example.com
At Marda Loop Church we want to help people Engage God Everywhere. Through creative, communal, relevant, and accessible means we want to meet people where they’re at—live, online, anytime, and anywhere.
We love our city and want to connect with people who don’t go to church, along with supporting community service projects. We want to help people spiritually grow in a variety of creative ways, ‘be church’ for all ages, expand our definition of church beyond Sunday mornings,and make room for thoughtful spiritual conversation.
To be this kind of church we see ourselves gathering in a variety of ways. This variety begins to make room for different forms of spiritual engagement, meets people where they are at, and is practically doable (given our current staff/volunteer/resource challenges). Starting this September we’re imagining that a typical month of services could look something like this:
WEEK 1 – will look like the Sunday morning services we’ve already been having (with a 10 am start, a few songs, a sermon, communion, etc.).
WEEKS 2 & 4 will be different, with no formal Sunday morning church service. On these weeks our community will engage God more organically in their everyday lives. Self-guided activities could include gathering in small groups, family time, going for breakfast with friends, serving at the Mustard Seed, or engaging a personal spiritual practice (like going for a hike and praying, reading a book and enjoying God’s narrative wisdom, or engaging God via work). Weeks 2 & 4 are the weeks where we practice what we preach in terms of more intentionally Engaging God Everywhere.
WEEK 3 will be a Sunday morning gathering with a different look. Some Sundays we’ll host a workshop on topics like ‘God and Science’, ‘How to Pray’, or the ‘Theology of Work’. On others we’ll get out of the building and go to the zoo, serve at Marda Gras, or host a community BBQ. On still others we’ll try something new: like hosting a children’s film, presenting a concert, or running a book sale. On ‘Week 3 Sundays’ we’ll collectively engage in activities that help us practice Engaging God Everywhere.
WEEK FIVE (four or five times a year)will be shaped in any of the above ways, as needed.
EVERYDAY – Overlapping all these weeks will be a new series of come-along-side church moments that we’re calling ‘EVERYDAY’. While these moments may not play out every day, 2-3 times a week Pastor John will record and post a short video unpacking a bible text or sharing a God-in-creation moment (check out the reels on the church Instagram page!). Once a month, he’ll also post an article he’s written, or a news story, or a spiritual practice. Every other month, you’ll receive an invitation to an online (or local) talk that Pastor John (or another speaker) is giving on a topic relevant to our church. The idea with EVERYDAY is to expand the conversation beyond ‘gathered events’ and bring it into everyone’s everyday life.
For this new model to succeed communication is key.
We imagine the process playing out something like this—Daryll may plan a Mustard Seed community service event for Week 2 in October, the invitation goes out to everyone via email, social media, and the MLC website in September, and all who want to participate contact Daryll and join the service project. Or perhaps Rita and Dennis may want to host a monthly Week 4 small group meeting to study the bible… Or maybe Theo has an idea for a Week 3 workshop on end-of-life financial planning… Rayne might want to host a Week 1 post-service online coffee social for virtual attendees… George may plan to lead a midweek music night at his place… etc.
In order to coordinate all of these new activities MLC will build its communication capacity by hiring a new part time staff person. The idea is to keep everyone in the loop and leave nobody behind (live or online, adults or children, those already a part of the church and those yet to join).
The hope is that our church will be increasingly community-led and less pastor-led. It will be more organic and outward focused and less programmatic—more fluid and adaptable and less rigid.
And for those of you who don’t do social media, we’ll teach you (if you’d like).
Going forward we hope to also regularly tell the stories of how this new vision is playing out in people’s lives. Knowing that this is just the first step in a new direction, we’ll also continue to explain what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how God is working through it all.
And if you’re still wondering why are we stepping into this new direction, its because we’ve begun to realize that an Engaging-God-Everywhere worldview can’t fit into a solely Sunday-centric model. Our vision is too big for an hour long meeting in a small sanctuary. Our definition of church is expanding so that we can better experience the everywhere God in everything. The hope in stepping into this new model is that each of us will learn how to discern God’s very real presence in every facet of our ordinary lives: at work, in the garden, with family, through the news, reading books, taking walks, or going to school. We’re trying to heed the Apostle Paul’s guidance:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:1-2, NIV
Our plan is that all monthly activities will be thematically linked. We’ll spend the entire month—via a variety of learning styles, activities, locales, and media—thinking into and experiencing a particular facet of the nature of God. The diagram on the right shows our plan for exploring science this September. Several EVERYDAY moments are already falling into place—a public lecture at Ambrose University, an article in the Calgary Herald, and a podcast interview (or two) re: Pastor John’s new book (we’ll probably host a book release party too!).
Below is a draft schedule that begins to imagine how future months might look.
We see several benefits in reshaping Marda Loop Church in this way:
1. Hosting Sunday morning gatherings twice a month will allow for some continuity with the current model. These events will continue to be livestreamed and posted online with the goal of increasing real-time, meaningful, online engagement.
2. By deliberately stepping away from two Sunday morning gatherings a month we make more room for the everyday experience of ‘church/God’ to grow.
3. Introducing more connection, dialogue, conversation, community interaction, and life application into the spiritual growth process will grow our faith community.
4. Moving away from a solely Sunday-centric attractional model of church will help us learn how to live out our faith in the rest of life—Engaging God Everywhere.
5. Stepping into a model that works for both staff and volunteers (i.e. this model will enable Pastor John to drop down to a .75 position to do more writing and give our staff and volunteers a regular break) will be more sustainable going forward. And it will also get our vision out into the world in new and exciting ways (via Pastor John’s outward focused writing, teaching, and speaking). This is important to know—the .25 work that we’re freeing pastor John to do IS STILL the work of our church.
6. Reducing the financial pressures on our church may help us continue as a small community with less pressure to grow via traditional metrics (more people and giving)
Marda Loop Church has been given a big theological vision—to Engage God Everywhere. We think that this proposed model makes room for our calling to take hold in a lasting way. And we see this next step as a first step in an exciting new direction. Of course, there will be questions going forward and we will adapt accordingly but, as people of faith, we trust that God will continue to lead his church in the years ahead.
|MLC 2023/24 — DRAFT Annual Schedule|
|Date||SPKR||Series||Type of Service||Details|
|Sept 3||JVS||Science||Week One||The Parable of the (near extinct) Sage Grouse|
|Sept 10||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Sept 17||JVS||Week Three||An interview with U of C endocrinologist/professor Gregory Kline|
|Sept 24||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|Oct 1||JVS||Country Music||Week One||The Theology of Country Music|
|Oct 8||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Oct 15||JVS||Week Three||A sermon/seminar on a chart-topping country song|
|Oct 22||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|Oct 29||JVS||Week Five||A Sunday night Country Community Concert (with some Marda Loop Church talent included!)|
|Nov 5||JVS||Neurodiversity||Week One||Made in the Neurodiverse Image of God|
|Nov 12||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Nov 19||JVS||Week Three||Interview a few people who are neurodiverse|
|Nov 26||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|Dec 3||JVS||ART||Week One||A message on the art of a Calgary artist…|
|Dec 10||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Dec 17||JVS||Week Three||Explore a few masterpieces depicting the nativity|
|Dec 24||JVS||Xmas Eve||Xmas Eve service|
|Dec 31||NONE||Week Five||No service|
|Jan 7||JVS||Theology of Work||Week One||A message on a specific job (of a church member)|
|Jan 14||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Jan 21||JVS||Week Three||Every Job a Parable Workshop|
|Jan 28||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|Feb 4||JVS||Education||Week One||The Theology of Education|
|Feb 11||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Feb 18||JVS||Week Three||Interview three teachers (and discern where God is at work in what they teach, and who they are)|
|Feb 25||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|Mar 3||JVS||Science/nature||Week One||God’s good gift of Animal Camouflage|
|Mar 10||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Mar 14||JVS||Week Three||The theology of the Human Microbiome|
|Mar 24||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|Mar 29||Good Friday||Friday church service|
|Mar 31||Easter Sunday||Sunday church service|
|Apr 7||JVS||Spirituality How to Pray||Week One||A sermon on the theology of prayer|
|Apr 14||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Apr 21||JVS||Week Three||Guest speaker teaching on Ignatian Prayer|
|Apr 28||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|Apr 24||JVS||Week Five||A personal spiritual ‘Engaging God Everywhere’ practice|
|May 5||JVS||Creation Care||Week One||The parable of a Rainbow Trout|
|May 12||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|May 19||JVS||Week Three||River cleanup event|
|May 26||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|June 2||JVS||Play||Week One||A sermon on the Theology of Play|
|June 9||NONE||Week Two||Self-guided|
|June 16||JVS||Week Three||A Spiritual practice of Play workshop|
|June 23||NONE||Week Four||Self-guided|
|June 30||JVS||Week Five||Host a game in the park across the street from the church.|
|July 7||MLC Summer Break||No scheduled church gatherings.|
|Aug 4||JVS||The Theology of Bees||Week One||The Theology of Bees|
|Aug 11||Week Two||Self-guided|
|Aug 18||JVS||Week Three||Community Honey Sampling Party|
|Aug 25||Week Four||Self-guided|