I’m back. During summer I’ve been reflecting more than usual, mainly on what I’m doing, why I’m doing and what I need to change.
During my reflections flash words or pictures come in my mind. One that came today was what some friends in the church planting world told me in a summarized version: “You shouldn’t think planting an ethnic church, because very soon you need to worry about the second generation, who speaks mainly English!”
They were concerned about the mono-linguistic church, I’m still concerned on the absence of the Albanian church.
The were concerned that our kids will not fit well in the future church, I’m still concerned that we don;t yet have the present church.
This is what I call a miscalculation in time. Most of my friends are worried about bringing back people who have left church, I worry about those who never been to church.
What’s the main challenge in the North American church today? Lack of roots in Jesus or discipleship. Pastors try to help people make roots in their church, and they have success specially when there are met needs. Most of church growth is with circulated Christians. Christians who are looking for a less judgmental church and pastors who are preaching less judgmental sermons – COME as you are and STAY as you are.
Why some Albanians don’t like to stay in our small group, but they join other churches? I don’t have yet all the reasons, but I have some. In our group they will be challenged more to repent and act in their faith.That doesn’t need to happen in another church. I found out that I’m not the only straightforward preacher that offends people. One friend of mine who has converted from Islam, said me once as we were discussing the reasons why some people leave our ethnic churches and join other Canadian churches: “Because we will figure out easily that they are fake”. His strong statement still makes me think. Can it be true?
Can it be true when refugees are baptized? Do they need good reasons besides being gay to stay in Canada? Can they become undesirable in the original countries if they show to the judge that they have become “infidels” by becoming Christians? In my experience dealing with refugees, I’ve met people who will do everything to stay in Canada and becoming church members is one of them. The only real Christian that I knew who told the truth to the judge is back to the homecountry.
Does Jesus say that not those who say that belong or believe in Jesus will enter in the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of the Father? Can it be true that most of people want a church experience but not a Jesus experience, a weekly snack with a smile but not a loving but firm nutritionist who offers a daily recipe for a healthy life?
Years ago in the church where I was serving in Albania, we had a lot of people who were coming at the church (where the pastor/missionary has the parsonage) to ask for material help. Once we decided to intervene as the leadership and instead of letting the missionary couple to deal with the humanitarian help, one of the elders would oversee and help those in need. We had an idea and wanted to be a real help to those in real need. Quickly the news spread out and many people didn’t returned in line to ask for help. Why? My answer is that the local pastor who also had a very good heart to help the poor, had local discernment and information that the missionary didn’t. So the local pastor was able to help those who really were in need and the fake “beggars” out of the fear to be discovered and not helped, chose not to come again.
Surely most of my people don’t go to any church as it hasn’t been their tradition and most of the times they are around Canadians who don;t talk about church (even if they are churchgoers). Is church and Jesus for Albanians? Yes. They don’t know yet this, but I know. When Albanians come in Canada, they are not looking for the church to attend and be part of. They are looking to be successful and prosperous.
That’s why I can’t worry about the church of the second generation. It’s enough worry to have a church of the first generation. The current Albanian children are observing their parents: almost none of them go to church. More than few of them have sent their kids to Catholic schools, not because they are Catholic, but hoping for a better education. Their kids know well the spirituality of their parents. If God will reach the second generation of Albanians through other churches-so be it. I’m glad everytime I see that happening.
I’m dreaming, I’m praying and doing what I can for Albanians to have this holy place where they can hear God’s word in their heart-language and where they can be encouraged to pray to God in the language of their parents. If you can, please dream and pray with me.