As kids my brother and I often received hand-knit sweaters from my grandmother as Christmas gifts. The sweater designs were usually whatever cool things we were into at the time (at six, I had one with a yellow stegosaurus on it), but no kid wants to wear a wool sweater under any circumstances. It’s a nice thought but it’s uncomfortable.

This is a great illustration of what we often do in the church. We hope that when someone comes to check out a church program or service, they will have the same experience we do. However, over the years, we’ve become so used to (and draw great value from) our way of doing things that it can be difficult for us to even think about what life outside of church is like for so many of our friends, family, and neighbours. No matter how much they’re curious about our ideas or want to have a spiritual experience, our way of doing church is often coated in unspoken assumptions, ideas, and history that they don’t know about which can be very uncomfortable for them. It’s like we are asking them to wear an itchy wool sweater every time they come into church.

As you may have read in December, I’ve been longing to find a way to help those in our community see and experience God. So many of my friends are clearly interested in spirituality, but the form which that takes in the established church is often a complete non-starter for them. I’ve been consumed with a simple but dense question: what would it look like for us to show the brilliant spirituality of Jesus to those who would never enter the church?

After months of prayer, conversations, and planning, it became clear to the Westheights Church Board and me that we needed to get to work. And so Lumina was born.

The word lumina is a Latin word that means to “shine brilliantly.” We think this perfectly captures what the followers of Jesus are called to do and be — to bring light to the dark parts of life, to illuminate the path forward, and to bring hope and power to a sometimes bleak world.

I hold a deep belief that God is active and moving in the world, and so is already at work in the hearts and minds of our neighbours. Our job isn’t to convince them of an argument or convert them to our way of seeing things, but to simply point out what God is doing in their lives and to bear witness to our own transformation.

We’re excited to share and discover together what this will look like and we’ll be rolling out over the next few months a number of things to begin this adventure:

  • This Sunday (January 14, 2018), we begin new a message series called “God in the Neighbourhood” focused on what it means to love our neighbours.
  • The Leadership Team of Lumina is already meeting and planning what our first steps are going to look like. More to come on this!
  • I’ll be rolling out a number of pieces on this blog over the next few months to further dive into the ideas and stories behind how Lumina came to be, and to illustrate where we see God leading our first steps.

I’m incredibly thankful for the faith and support that Westheights Church has already shown for this experiment. A huge shoutout goes to the Church Board for embracing the process, asking great questions, and working on the details with me. The Leadership Team of Lumina is also thankful to have the support of Be in Christ Church of Canada, our denominational family, in wanting to find new and innovative ways to share the story of Jesus with others.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!