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embody the gospel by following Christ by walking where he walked and as he walked (1 John 2:6). For me, this is one meaning of Paul’s injunction to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” And where he walked and how he walked is set out in the gos- pels. Jesus “walked the talk” and en- couraged his listeners to do likewise (Matt. 7:24ff, Luke 6:47, 11:28 etc., James 1:22). Kreider terms the at- tempt to embody the gospel as “ho- lism.” Reflecting Cyprian’s thought, he says, “Christians and their com- munities must live a life of integrity with no discrepancy between words and deeds.” Outsiders judge Chris- tians not so much by what they say as by what they are and what they do.
It seems to me this attempt to practice holism is an attempt to be good. (And if this is not enough of a challenge for a lifetime, I don’t know what is. For it is a challenge which
eral, progressive/regressive, social- ist/capitalist, etc. But, in our secular age, they do not ask where these values come from nor do they ask why one should adhere to one set of values and not another. Why act to save life rather than destroy it, or the reverse? Why is education an impor- tant value for some but not necessar- ily for others? Why act in one way and not another? Why are the values reflected in the Sermon on the Mount significant? Irrelevant?
Back in “the day,” raising such questions, acting out of a particular value structure and encouraging peo- ple to reflect on their own situation in life and how they want to live and why was known as pre-evangelism: an exercise in working the soil and planting seeds. With what results? Who knows? But through our em- bodied witness and engaging people where they are and in a language to
By the Rev. Dr. Daniel Scott,
St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ont.
Faithful Innovation: Beginning a Con- versation for a Post-COVID Church Edited by Brendan McClenahan
and Nick Warnes
Cyclical Publishing, 2020
Early in June of this year, I was asked to participate in an online conversa- tion with multi-faith religious leaders about how our houses of worship were affected by COVID-19 and how we might safely reopen to serve our communities. The call was initiated by our local MPP and was moder- ated by the Chair of the Chamber of Commerce.
Father Joshua Roldan of Holy Mar- tyrs of Japan Roman Catholic Church proposed that houses of worship be permitted to reopen at 30% of ca- pacity. A few days later, the premier announced that churches, mosques, synagogues could open with that re- duced capacity as long as the faith- ful wore masks and practiced social distancing.
About the same time, the Rev. Dr. Ross A. Lockhart, the Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall at the University of British Columbia, posted on social media about a book that addresses the issue of how the church might respond post-COVID. I ordered the edited volume that had been hurriedly published, and was impressed to see that five of the eleven chapters were
written by people associated with The Presbyterian Church in Canada. It is a book “for leaders in the Church who have led, who continue to lead, and who will continue to lead.”
The first chapter, and perhaps the finest, is by Ross Lockhart. It pro- vides a primer on ecclesiology—the doctrine of the church. He reminds us that the church is (not) the build- ing. The church, borrowing the infa- mous phrase of our Prime Minister, needs to follow the example of Jesus and “speak moistly.” No, the church should not spread the virus, but it should incarnate the gospel in new and fresh ways. In this we should heed what the gospel writer John records: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:21–22).
Jen de Combe, the Associate Sec- retary of Canadian Ministries with The Presbyterian Church in Canada, has a contribution on discipleship and urges that the church move beyond a tired-out Bible study program and to consider new ways of discipleship available to us post-COVID. She sug- gests COVID-19 has revealed to us three things: 1. We are not okay! 2. We want to live better! 3. Our faith has a place outside of Sunday morn- ing in a church building.
Part of the recognition that “we are not okay” comes with empathy. An- drea Perrett previously served at West Point Grey Presbyterian Church in
Vancouver where she created and led a dinner church, St. Andy’s Commu- nity Table. She suggests in her chap- ter on “Empathy” that, “The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the need for em- pathy.” How do we empathetically join those who have been through a pan- demic? Listening to others, practicing presence and engaging in empathetic actions are a star t.
The chapter on missiology builds on the well-known phrase: “It’s not that God’s church has a mission, it is that God’s mission has a church” and derives lessons from the Babylo- nian exile and how the church might respond on the other side of the global pandemic. This chapter is written by Matthew Brough, the director of Cycli- cal PCC, a denomination-wide plant- ing initiative of the PCC (who knew?) and a par t-time minister of Prairie Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg.
Daniel So is also with Cyclical PCC and serves as a cohort direc- tor through which he gathers and trains church starters in Canada. His chapter is on “Shrewdness,” where he argues “shrewdness is not taking some kind of advantage of the circumstances to build a big- ger audience or platform” but rather “shrewdness compels us to respond to the immense challenges before us, which we did not choose, with crea- tivity, faithfulness and love” (p. 153).
As the title suggests, this volume is “beginning a conversation for a post-COVID church. May these con- versations continue on Zoom and safely in person.”
A Review of Faithful Innovation
     “Control, or the illusion of control, can give a sense of security and does provide a hedge against the anarchy of unbridled religious enthusiasm. Yet, if we are really serious about helping people ‘communicate with the source of life,’ do we have an alternative to taking legitimate risks by being open to the leading of the Spirit in ways we have not been? For it is the Spirit who gives life (2 Cor. 3:6). And attempting to control the way or in what form the Spirit comes to people can be, however unintended, a hindering or thwarting of the Spirit’s presence or working.”
 we all, internally and externally, fail to meet. In this sense, Jesus’ words about none being good, ring true.) In practical terms, however, the attempt to be good, to walk the way of Jesus means, among other things, to fo- cus on what Kreider terms “the well spring of Jesus’ ethical teaching,” the Sermon on the Mount, which, he says, motivated Cyprian’s expression of what it meant to be a Christian.
This might not mean much in to- day’s world, or at least in our society. But by focusing on deeds which re- flect values, there is a connection to those who were raised in a society where values constitute a common language, even if the values differ. Society in general and the media in particular tend to view values in terms of polarities: conservative/lib-
which they can relate, we might be able to affect people’s lives and to extend the invitation to intentionally enter God’s kingdom of life through the person of the kingdom’s Lord, Jesus the Christ.
Can we look for numbers from such a “seed dropping” operation? We can, but we might be disappoint- ed (Matt. 13:3). So, we are back to your comments about the Spirit. Paul said that in his witness to the Corin- thians, he planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (1 Cor. 3:7). God alone, through the presence and power of God’s Spirit, gives life and growth. And this we do not control. It is for us, in any way we can, to “sim- ply” plant and water, and leave the issue with God who, in all matters, is sovereign.
MPP Caroline Mulroney joined a multi-faith conversation on re-opening houses of wor- ship chaired by the East Gwillimbury, Ont., President of the Chamber of Commerce.
 “The church is not a fraternal organization, country club or social service agency. At its core, the church is not a building for religious services, yard sales or a rental space for choirs or yoga groups. Instead, the church is ‘missionary by its very nature,’ and that impacts any expression of a Christian community gathered and sent.”
—the Rev. Dr. Ross Lockhart, “Ecclesiology” in Faithful Innovation.

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