Skip to main content

About a month ago, our Western Canada Resonate mission team was all set to gather together in Lacombe, Alberta. It was going to be awesome!

We were excited to witness robust mission in a rural context—we were going to kick things off BBQing with Central Alberta pastors; we’d arranged a visit to a nearby Indigenous Reserve to ask questions about truth and reconciliation; we planned a campfire with some young adults prepared to share their testimonies and stories of mission; we were even going to visit a funeral director who passionately frames his work with a missional lens.

But it didn’t happen. Schedules, sickness, a death in the family, and torrential rain were all part of what led us to invoke those all-too-familiar words: “Postponed!” “Cancelled!”

I bet you know exactly what that’s like. In the last two years, how many happenings have been cancelled or postponed? How many opportunities to connect, gather, build relationships, be together, and enjoy good company haven’t happened? Can we ever really calculate the cost? 

Counting the cost we’ve paid over these past two years (for all of us) is too much. All the relational happenings that could have been, all the opportunities to gather we’ve missed, all the times we could have comforted, encouraged, prayed with, laughed with, cried with people that we’ve lost… it’s a lot!

But we do have some opportunity and God-given agency to reshape our future. To remember and reprioritize the things that really matter. And at the top of that list should be relationship. 

Relationship with God is what makes us who we are—and relationship with other people is not only what naturally flows out of relationship with God, but is how we express and live into the reality of relationship with God. Have you ever noticed that the command to “love God” in Scripture is always paired with instructions on how to love our neighbor?

In Western Canada, some places more than others, the winters can be cold or wet and we’re less likely to get out of our homes. But right now it’s summer, a time when the world feels alive, and a time when we’re reminded to live like we’re alive (seems obvious, doesn’t it?). 

Maybe “summertime” by itself is a thin excuse for reorienting ourselves around relationship but I’m going to take it! After all, John Dunne said “every season is his season” of invitation! So what if we take all those cancellations, interruptions, and postponements as grist to strengthen our resolve to be relational people every opportunity we get? 

What if reorient our way of being to say yes every chance we get? Yes to relationship, yes to gathering, yes to that coffee meeting, yes to that phone call, yes to stopping on the street or in the grocery store to say, “Hello, how are you, what’s been going on?” 

What are the other relational opportunities to say yes to? How might we intentionally "get out there" to encounter Christ in friend and stranger? What are ways we can counteract the subtle ways our work, to do lists, cancellations or whatever else flatten our personhood? What are the ways we can live as whole persons enjoying the gift of relationship with persons around us, all of it pointing us and drawing us to the personhood of God? 

These are the questions I'm asking myself as we get into summer! We'd love to hear your responses too. How do you say “yes” to relationship where you live? To get our minds going, our team came up with a few suggestions of how we as individuals and churches might "get out there" and do just that:

  • Bring popsicles to a local community garden

  • Host an outdoor Wisdom of Trauma movie event at your church

  • Participate in an outdoor cleanup event

  • Go for a walk and keep walking until you've said “hello” to at least three people

  • Start an outdoor book study on The Inconvenient Indian

  • Make an "at church" prayer time into an outdoor prayer walk

  • Put a dog watering station out front and chat with neighbours when their dogs stop for a drink

  • Have a campfire social with your neighbours

  • Have a rock painting party with your neighbours. It gets everyone sitting around chatting and creating, and then neighbours can use their rocks to decorate their gardens or hide their creations around the neighbourhood. Then when another neighbour finds one, they take a photo and share it (we use a Facebook group) and hide it again.

  • Start a “Talking Gardens” group with neighbours. Meet regularly, share a beverage and snacks, exchange bulbs, produce, etc. and talk gardens!

  • Help plan a block party. Here’s a helpful resource: Block Parties and Play Streets | City of Edmonton

  • Reframe an "at church" prayer time into an outdoor prayer walk

  • Simply sit outside in your front yard reading, crafting, or something else, as done in the Turqoise Table book

  • Give a gift or care packages with purpose to neighbours or folks in the church

  • Hire a cover band and facilitate an evening of song

  • Participate in what your neighbours are doing: block parties, garage sales, children's fundraising attempts, etc.

  • Hang out at the community garden to collect recipes and stories from gardeners

  • Start a lemonade stand with funds going to a local crisis centre

  • Create a garden overflow "sharing cupboard" 

  • Rent an ice cream truck in the neighbourhood (again with donations going to local cause

  • Start a community pantry where neighbours can bring or take items as needed

  • During super hot weeks, put out a fridge or cooler with cold drinks that people can come and take! People love it and appreciate it!

What are some of your ideas to say “yes” to relationship? Let us know in the comments or send us an email

Rich Braaksma is Resonate Global Mission’s Regional Mission Leader for Western Canada


Let's Discuss

We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Login or Register to Comment

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post