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The church is going through significant change, at least in the mainline denominations. Whether they like it or not.

Today, in the United Church of Canada we’ve heard that 28 people will be notified they will be without work in our national office. 14 through direct layoffs, and 14 through some sort of attrition. We hold all those affected in prayer. It’s not good when someone loses a job.

It’s no secret that this denomination is up against the wall financially. We must find ways to cut costs. Unfortunately one way is through workforce reduction. And as much as I don’t like to see people lose their job, it’s come to this. Having worked in the technology industry when the “bubble” burst just over 10 years ago, I know it’s unpleasant and can even be ugly at times.

But getting back to the church, and I mean no disrespect to those who are going home to their families today with broken hearts, we need to cut national and even conference budgets drastically.

We’ve built up this national bureaucracy that literally takes millions of dollars to maintain each and every year. At the same time our churches struggle each and every day to keep their own mission going.

The shift needs to return to local mission. It needs to return to serving our own communities in the name of Jesus Christ as the head of our church. We need to re-engage with our neighbours, not supporting a structure and waiting for it to tell us how to think and act.

Church is local. Mission starts locally.

We need to re-envision our church. Strengthening local ministries by becoming locally focused, not by centralizing functions in central offices where someone can do the work for us, whether it be at a national office or in conference offices.

Jesus walked the streets feeding, healing and offering hope.

These things can’t happen in a bureaucracy.

They happen in community.

For friends and colleagues who are learning they are losing their job today, I pray for support and direction forward. For our church, I pray we embrace our local missions, which is our congregations, and empower them to release the Spirit into our communities in the name of Jesus Christ.

Please join me in these prayers.