Season 1 / Church & Burnout: If the Church Disappears, Will Anyone Notice? - with Ken Smid

Editor: Ariana deVries
Mastered by: Joshua Snethlage with Mixed Media Studios

Our exploration of church continues with a fiery interview with Ken Smid, a former pastor and current director of True North Aid. Ken walks us through some of his journey with church, burnout, and recovering passion – not the organization, but for people.

Scott deVries

Hey, I'm here with Ken Smid. Ken and I have gone way back...a few years? I'm curious. He'll probably tell you that himself. But we've enjoyed connecting with him a bit more recently, and his wife, fantastic people - really great. Oh, I cannot wait for you to hear what he has to say. So it's Ken, thanks for being with us.

Ken Smid

Good to be here, Scott.

Scott deVries

Lots of fun. Yeah. Tell me. How did you get saved? I'm curious. There's a little bit of a story there. Give us some intro.

Ken Smid

To make a long story short, Scott. my spiritual journey began in...I grew up in a Dutch Reformed Church, great heritage, gone to college and invited to a Pentecostal church that was across the fence. I was afraid of anything Pentecostal. And I don't know why. I mean, I just thought they're scary people. It's weird, eh? So a friend in college had invited me to this church and I went, and I had never experienced the kind of expression in worship that I did there. And I would go, twice on Sunday morning, sometimes Sunday night, Saturday night, and my roommates had all thought I'd gone mad. I invited many of them to come with me, but they never come back. The crazy thing is that people would ask me after services, are you saved? And I didn't know how to answer that question. I just said, Well, yes, of course and deep down. I would wonder, I think I'm saved but I'm not quite sure. Fast forward a couple years, I was working north of Guelph and a friend at work invited me to his church. And the first question, I was, is it Pentecostal?

And he said, well, no, but it's close? And I said, Okay, so I went to that church, and it was an amazing church. And after four weeks of attending in June of 2001. The senior pastor sat me down and an hour later, I said yes to Jesus,

Scott deVries

I remember that day like it was yesterday, actually, watching and seeing that process live was just...

Ken Smid

And that was because it was your church - interesting. The senior leader at the time was very adamant that when you say yes to Jesus, you've got to tell somebody. And so your father was fixing the chairs that morning. And so he called him over and said, “Bill, Ken has something to tell you”. I was very nervous. And so I told him, but I tell you something, Scott, something woke on the inside of me and I was saved. I don't disregard my upbringing at all and those hymns mean all the more to me. And so I met you because you were watching your dad one day, at worship practice. I was leading the audio visual department. I brought that church from the overhead to projector to the projector on the ceiling. I didn't know what I was doing as computers aren't really my thing. I went over to you, I don't know how old you were.

Scott deVries

12 or 13 at the time, maybe.

Ken Smid

I said to you, “would you mind helping me?” And of course you did. And the rest is history. You took over the ministry and...

Scott deVries

At least for a time, and we had a lot of fun. One of the things that I was struck with you was just your passion, it was just all over your face. Whenever you were at church, whenever you were doing something is like, Ken you don't go 99%. You go 100%, all in wherever you are, which is pretty cool.

Ken Smid

Well you might as well.

Scott deVries

That's awesome. I love it.

Ken Smid

So those were great days. Attending that church, and I decided to get baptized and it took me me a few months to do that. But I did. And I think my family had thought I gone a little mad but they were all very supportive.. And then I ended up in Ottawa.

Scott deVries

Ottawa, of all places. What drove you to Ottawa?

Ken Smid

Well, I had met my wife Deb by now. I'd like to mention this, Scott, just to back up a bit. You know, I led my mom to the Lord about a year later.

We were going through some difficult times, and my brother had prayed with my father out in the barn to receive Christ , and my mom and I were inside. We were all really struggling with everything that was going on in our family. But the next day with dad, he and I led mom in a prayer to receive Christ. And so I came back to work here in Guelph but I had always wondered that year, did it really mean anything? It was just a prayer, you know. And I remember the following year, I'd met Deb, my wife at this time, and we're at home for my mom's birthday. And the next day, as I was getting ready to leave the house, she looked at me and she said, "today's my birthday". And I said, what do you mean, Mom, yesterday was your birthday?

I'm a bit confused, you know? And she said, No, it was a year ago today that you led me to Jesus, and my life has been the same. I tell you, those were the best words I have ever heard. To hear your mom say that, it's like I helped give birth to my mom. She has some great people in her life and I love my mom. She's like a spiritual leader now in our in our family. So she's great.

Scott deVries

So going to Ottawa then.

Ken Smid

Crazy time. So we ended up in Ottawa. The company I was working for in the dairy industry, had started a company, the Eastern Division. I had offered to lead that, and, they of course, said that was great. And so just after I got married, we moved to Ottawa. We knew that the move to Ottawa was more than just a job. We knew in our hearts that God had something special for us that there was some kind of ministry. It was interesting. It was a man from England who had told us about a church plant that was happening in Ottawa, by an international evangelist. He had watched him on the TV. In fact, he had led one of his key Russian missionaries to Jesus on a bus and London, England. Anyway, so we finally found this small church plant in January of 2005. And there was about 20 people, dust all over the chairs. And within 10 minutes, I looked at Deb and I said, I think we're home.

And those were fun years. Yes, first few years of church planting in Ottawa, we had a lot of crazy things and we never wanted to miss church, because we were afraid we were going to miss something. There was no real structure. It was just a bunch of people who loved God, and love people. It was a lot of fun!

Scott deVries

I'm curious those first few years. I mean, everything's a little bit crazy. And I mean, you're kind of wired to do beginnings. Well, you're excited about, you know, blank slate, let's go for this thing. Right. I'm curious, though, that after a couple of years, it sounds like that transition a little bit, or it became more structured, perhaps, what was your perspective after a few years?

Ken Smid

In the first couple of weeks, I was leading the ushers and greeters. I was instantly catapulted into leadership. Our pastor often told the story of the two young couples who arrived that Sunday. At that point they had had enough. They wondered, is anybody going to come? And here we show up, these young young people with lots of energy. So I jumped in, head first, and both my wife and I began to serve in whatever area we could becasue there was a lot to do. After two years I was asked to come on to the pastoral team, as full time pastor. So I literally went from working in the barn, as I was working in agriculture, to the church, with no experience!

Scott deVries

Where are you excited about that, obviously? Or was it like, why is anyone asking me? Well, I'm curious what your emotions were for being prompted in a ministry just sort of haphazardly like that?

Ken Smid

God had made it clear to our senior leader that he had raised somebody up within the house to take this pastoral position as the associate had left, so they needed to fill it and I guess I was just a natural candidate. Our senior leader saw the potential in people and did what he could, to try and encourage that. So I went into full time ministry and I was scared, I was nervous. But I was told I didn't have to fill anybody shoes. I could wear my own shoes. And that was very important to me.

Scott deVries

Yeah. And was that did that actually happen? You know,

Ken Smid

I think so. I had to figure out who I was, and how to do ministry. But as the years go on, church, life gets to be very intense. You see the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I never lost my passion. And so I was in full time ministry, pastoral ministry for seven years. I left for 1.5 years and went back to Ottawa, believe it or not, and worked for a para church ministry for two more years. Now I've gone into secular humanitarian work working with northern communities. So yeah, they were great years.

Scott deVries

Yeah, it sounds like there's a lot to unpack though, in those years, where, you know, you don't just move from ministry to a secular nonprofit organization, just just because there's obviously a bit of a story there. I'd like to explore it with you if that's okay.

How was being a pastor? What were the good, the good moments in that?

Ken Smid

Scott, my favorite times where, when a Muslim mom had come because her husband was not here, and she needed help to find furniture and beds for her kids. I loved those moments. To help furnish somebody's house, I did many, their apartments. When somebody was dying of cancer and I had to go to the hospital to pray for them. I loved those moments. I led a prayer clinic for five and a half of those seven years and was part of it all together for eight. Every Friday, people would come in, and we would pray for the sick, the broken the hurting and the lost. I often said Fridays felt more like church to me than even Sundays, because we were a family all working together to to minister, the love of God to these precious people who came and we had more than 12,000 visits in those eight years.

Scott deVries

Whoa, that's a lot.

Ken Smid

I was in charge of the ministry team and that was so much fun. During those years I was reading a book by Larry Stockstill after a conference. A third of the way through the book, it said, Stop reading until you've identified your spiritual sons. And I closed the book, and thought to myself, Oh, man, I lead a lot of people, but I can't say that I have any sons. And I looked up, and I said, God, would you give me sons?

It is crazy but within two weeks, three people were highlighted to me, three young guys, they were helping me around the church and stuff. And within two months, I had seven young guys that I began to mentor and just be a father figure. I didn't lead any of them to the Lord, they were all saved, but had no one in their life to challenge them, encourage them, walk with them. I just began doing life with these young guys. And we would go to Starbucks, and if I needed help to move somebody or furnish an apartment, I would bring them along. And they would challenge me and I would encourage them to challenge me and I would challenge them. And we had some great times. One young guy, I loved him to pieces, but he was heading down the wrong path so I actually slapped him in the face. I didn't know how to get through to him. And he was shocked, I was shocked. But it's what he needed to sort of break out of the that path he was on. We had some great times. In the years after, when I left Ottawa, I think five of them had all gotten married, and I was invited back to their wedding. I officiated a number of them.

What was interesting to me, I saw very few people from the church and I was one of the few that was invited back. So obviously, I had an impact in their in their life. Those were precious times.

But I mentioned this to you earlier there was a gentleman in our church that did prison ministry, and so when it was time for the baptisms, he would always encourage me to come! Actually he didn't encourage me, he told me I had to. So we would go and there were these guys in orange jumpsuits who had gotten saved in the alpha program and the pastor of the prison would bring in this laundry tub full of water and we had to dunk these guys, full immersion baptism in this laundry tub. They had to curl up in a little ball and those were some of them most precious moments for me, it was like getting back to the basics.

It was all the meetings, after meetings, after meetings, I think I had been in over 600, maybe closer to 700 meetings in the nine years I served in Ottawa.

Scott deVries

A lot. That's a lot. And I mean, were those meetings, all bad? I'm not, I mean, there was probably a fair amount of excitement and activity there. I'm curious. Yeah. What was your perspective? You sound a little bit like those meeting were a bit of a drain on you.

Ken Smid

Yeah, I think they were a drain on all of us. It was like we were living from conference to conference from event to event and from Sunday to Sunday. I remember in those years, I always tried to be at the front when the service would start and posture myself for worship, and be the good looking pastor. But I remember one Sunday thinking to myself, What am I doing, just going through the motions.

And I really began to assess, what was important?

Like I just mentioned I loved the basic tenants of Christianity like serving the poor and baptizing, like these inmates in orange jumpsuits, and mentoring and pouring into these young guys.

I guess, certainly church ministry did become a drain. My big revelation, actually, happened at the prison. It was in the spring of 2013. I was there for one of the baptisms, excited to be there, of course, and there was a gentleman who had been part of a pastoral team of a large church in the city, he was the, or had been, the principal of a large Christian school. And he was telling me that he was now in the insurance industry. And so I was surprised. And I looked at him and I said, “Why did you leave ministry and go into secular work?” And he said, “Well, because I got burnt out.” And I said to him, “What do you mean, you got burnt out? What does that look like? What are the symptoms of burnout?”

And as he began to describe those things to me. My eyes began to well up. And he looks at me, and he says, ”You're one of them.” “You're burning out or you're burnt out.” And I was shocked at my own reaction to what he was saying. And I realized that I was on a path to a very dangerous place.

Scott deVries

So what did that path look like at the time? And was that a surprise to the time?

Ken Smid

Well, at that time, our church had a change leadership, it changed names and basically changed everything. The new guy that was leading us was much younger, he didn't sort of have the wisdom to be able to ensure that his staff were only doing what they were supposed to be doing. Our senior leader before would very clearly say to me, Ken you can do this, this and this, but you can't do this, this and this, you're gonna burn yourself out. And so he understood. But the new guy I was serving, If I could do it, he let me do it.

At that point I was doing most of the weddings. I was doing the funerals. I was looking after the prayer clinic, I was hosting the services, I was preaching when needed. I was doing basic pastoral care, like furnishing apartments and moving people, if you're a pastor, you're also a mover, a part time mover. I was doing house visits, crisis calls, church maintenance, cleaning, volunteer management. And renovations, we were doing some major renovations around the church and I was doing that as well.

Scott deVries

And you weren't sure that you were experiencing burnout at this time.

Ken Smid

One of the signs or symptoms of burnout is when you're with your family, you're physically present, but you're not present. You're actually somewhere else. And that was happening to me. I remember my daughter, looking up at me and saying, "Daddy, come play with me. Daddy, won't you come play with me?" And I remember thinking to myself, I want to, but I can't. I just can't, like I can but I can't. I got down on the floor. I did what I could, but my body was physically present, but I wasn't present. That is the major sign of burnout.

And so that summer, I had gone away for three weeks, the first time in my life I'd ever taken a three week holiday. And not once did I think about leaving Ottawaor leaving ministry. It never crossed my mind. I did know I needed to make some major changes and Deb and I had a lot of conversations about that and what we should do. When I got back to Ottawa, feeling quite refreshed, hadn't felt that way, in a long time. It was almost like I could now think and hear clearly. And I just heard what I felt the Lord say, “I’m calling you out of Ottawa”.

Scott deVries

Wow. That must have been quite a... I mean, you'd been there for many years, then

Ken Smid

I've been there for eight and a half at that point.

Scott deVries

So to just move out, is you’re losing your ministry, you're moving away from the people that youcared about? Yeah, did you have any sense of where you were to go after that, or...

Ken Smid

The dairy company that I spoke about earlier, they actually were kind enough to take me back. They needed somebody that could fulfill a position and I was well trained and qualified to do it. I felt that I needed to do what was important to my family. And my wife had longed to be back home, with her family here in Kitchener. She never really embraced Ottawa like I did. I loved Ottawa, and I loved ministry, and I loved all the things I did and I loved the people.

Deb loved the people, but she just didn't connect. It was very difficult years for her. ButI felt like I'm on a collision course with burnout. I need to make a change for the sake of my family. And so we moved back to Kitchener, so that she could be here. I wandered for the next, well 2014, 2015 and 2016. No, two years, I didn't really have a church.

Scott deVries

And how does that feel? Like, for those years, was it a good wandering? Or was it a, you know, questioning of, I'm sure there's a fair amount of reflection on your years in Ottawa about what you were up to, what you were doing, you know, was it worth it?

I was afraid, to overcommit myself, again. I was afraid to get back on that path. I began to question a lot of things. Like I mentioned earlier, those early days were so much fun, but we sort of went from being church to doing church. We tried so hard, and as hard as we tried it was like, people would just sort of go through your fingers, like sand through your fingers. I always said it was great when new people came, but it seemed to feel sometimes that more people were going out the back door, then coming in the front door, although we were growing.

Ken Smid

You pour your life into individuals and walk with families and, and then because they have an issue with the church, they would get up and leave. And usually it was because they had an issue with the senior leader, or they didn't like the worship, or it was too loud, or they hated the offering message. I was the guy. I would call it myself the church dump. Somebody had a problem with the church, they took me to Tim Hortons. "We want to have a nice visit with you, Pastor".

Scott deVries

And did you enjoy that? Or is that a little bit of a?

Ken Smid

Well, I knew they wanted rail on the church, and I was the best one. And so I tended to get a lot of the flack because the senior leaders weren't always that approachable, and rightly so, they had a lot on their plate, right. I was in charge of pastoral care. And we got to this place as a church where we were a two headed monster for a while. That was thankfully expedited. We were in a transition period that was supposed to be five years and ended up being two and a half years. And we were all very thankful for that. Because it's very difficult to be in a church where there's two leaders leading simultaneously. Sometimes it's necessary, but it's not easy.

Unknown

And so yeah, I just...yeah, those were interesting years.

Scott deVries

Reflecting back. And I mean, here you are, you’re doing all of this. I mean, your list before burnout, it was incredible. You're doing so much, right? And then you reflect back on what you actually accomplished. Did you? Did you regret the years that you served? The years that you put in, you know, all the visits, all the renovations, all the services?

Ken Smid

You know, Scott, I've I've taken inventory of my 11 years in total in Ottawa, all of those in ministry, nine years full time ministry. And I've asked myself that question! I can honestly say, I don't regret a cent given. I don't resent a minute given, all that we gave ? Absolutely not. But you know, when it's all done after 11 years the one church I served for seven years doesn't exist anymore. The second church that I served, transitioned and it's a completely different group of people today and looks completely different. And the third para church ministry that I served sits empty. Now, did I have an impact? Well, it's hard to quantify that.

I'm thankful for those that reach back and connect with me and say, because of something I said, or something I spoke, or a prayer that I prayed, that it impacted their life. Those are special special moments, but it is very difficult to quantify the investment. That is just me that let alone the hundreds and hundreds of others who gave so much to see this place grow?

So no, I don't regret it. But I've come to the revelation that the church worldwide, but let's just look at North America, isn't working. And we're trying to serve the organization. And I find myself all the time, especially working with indigenous peoples. I've got to apologize to them. I say, “I am so sorry for what the church has done to you. I am so, so sorry".

I was with a couple back last summer. And this couple are not Christian. We were at a booth at a community in Eastern Ontario at a local festival. And a lady from the church across the road had come across the street, and she was asking us what we were doing. And so we told her, we're serving indigenous peoples. And she looked at us and she said," Well, they've made their bed, they can sleep in it."

And her shirt had a big, Jesus is love, or something. This was what her shirt said, and then she walked away and went back to her church. I couldn't believe that somebody representing a church just said that. And I looked at my friends. And I said, I am so so sorry. I now know why you don't go to church. So I walked across the street, I found the pastor, I told him what happened. He wanted to know who it was. And I said, "No, you don't need to know who it was. But you've got some work to do."

Because that's wrong. If this is how we're representing Christ, because I believe with all of my heart, Scott, you need to know this. The church is the hope of the world. We're God's plan for humanity. This is what I believe. You know, there's a quote that I have kept with me for many years, it was by Oswald Chambers, and it says this. "The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do. But the relationships we maintain, and the atmosphere produced by those relationships." That is the one thing that God's asking of us. And yet, the thing that is continually assailed or assaulted. And it's absolutely true. There's another quote that I keep with me in my Bible, and it says, "Obedience alone is good, but not good enough. It must be obedience as a product of trust or obedience inspired by love. Here's the clincher. If obedience lacks the fire of relationship, then it is lifeless, and has comparatively little value". I came to realize that I was very obedient. I often said, "My strength is my responsibility. My weakness is my responsibility". If something needed to be done, I did it. Everything from straightening chairs to, fixing this and fixing that, cleaning up.

I remember one gentleman, who I loved so much, he passed away and I walked with him and his family through through those difficult days. It was his funeral, and there were coffee stains all over the church carpet. And I spent four hours by myself on my hands and knees scrubbing these stains off the carpet, because I wanted to honour him. I loved him so much. I just thougt it was undeserving of him to have his funeral in a church with coffee stains all over the carpet. I did things like that. But, when it's all said and done, you take it all away. What do I have left? It's the people.

And to this day, I keep in touch with dozens, if not well over 100 people in the city of Ottawa who I love and care for to this day. I miss them. I wish I was with them. It was the organization that brought us all together. And I thank God for that. Many of them don't even go to church today. They're not even there. It's crazy. I look at my bible here and I've got all these pastoral lists still, people I needed to look after and care for. At the end of the day, if the church disappears, the church as we know it, will anybody notice? That's a crazy question. Our senior pastor would often ask that question.

If the church disappeared would anybody notice?

Scott deVries

That is a tough question. Man. Ken this is so good. I love your perspective on the church. I'm curious, a little bit. You know, you're still at church, you're still part of an institution, you're still also connected to people. I'm curious, like, with that revelation, where do you go from here? For you?

Ken Smid

Well, you know, Scott, I had met you years ago, as we mentioned. Somebody had sent me a blog that you had written. And I don't know when I received that but I recieved it at a time when I was in the wilderness. I had gone over three years without a church home. And finally after a year after receiving this, I read it and I was shocked. It was a very strong indictment against the church.

So we met we we got talking, and I loved your perspective. One thing I love, I love to debate and to wrestle and to try to figure these things out. I enjoy nothing more than a really good conversation. And I especially love being with people I disagree with. Because I want to see every perspective. I believe there are two sides to every story. When you put 10 people in a circle, you're going to have 10 different perspectives. I love that and I think that's an attribute of the Lord. I mean, he created the world, we've got desert, we've got rain forests, we've got mountains, we've got valleys, we've got prairies, we've got lakes, and rivers, you know what I mean? God is a creative guy, and he is a God of variety. I find sometimes in the church that we're sort of all having to think the same way and look the same way. And so to be able to unpack that and celebrate what makes us different, I believe unity is found in the celebration of that which makes us different and unique. honestly believe that.

And the moment we can begin to recognize that there are people all around us who think differently and respond differently than we do. Having read that blog, I thought, whoa, I need to meet with this guy again. It's been so long, and we did. But what created a curiosity in me was why you were still attending church. How can it be? This is the revelation I've come to I need community. I need the people. I need to have a connection point each and every week.

And so this is why I've jumped back in.

Scott deVries

jumping back in time, you probably think of your previous time in Ottawa, and now jumping back in, is there anything you do differently or, perhaps caution yourself against or be aware of?

Ken Smid

I'm careful. What I don't want to do is put myself back in what I call the “ministry bubble”. And you know what, there are a lot of bubbles out there, we all have a bubble. My bubble is significantly larger today than it ever was in ministry. I'm absolutely loving the fact that in the work that I do I get to meet with people all over the country, from all walks of life in a way that I didn't, in ministry if you know what I mean.

And so I don't want to get back into the bubble. I want to be able to have one foot in and one foot out, I want to be able to see outside and I want to be able to see inside. I would encourage anybody that's involved in anything to make sure you don't confine your life to one specific group of people. As a leader in Ottawa, I did something bold, I would secretly encouraged people that attended, I would say, every six to eight weeks, you should go somewhere completely different. Go to a Catholic Church, go to United Church, go to an Anglican Church go to go to a Jehovah's Witness, wherever. Why, because number one, you appreciate home. Number two, you get a revelation and your kids are getting a revelation that there are different expressions. And that's okay. And that's important.

And so I encourage people to make sure you branch out and then you can come back, you know? So I guess I do have a very different perspective today.

Scott deVries

And you'd mentioned to me a while back that what drives you a bit more these days is the people that have slipped through the fingers, the people that, you know, maybe didn't quite make it through the system, or they left like, Yeah, I know, you'd mentioned in Ottawa, the people that would leave, were the ones that were on your mind that you had a heart for. Is that something that...Obviously you still carry many of those people in your heart today. Is that something that you...I'm curious where you're at with that. I know that churches anywhere, has people going out the back door.

Ken Smid

Yeah, and it doesn't matter. Wherever you go, it's there. And I it still bothers me, I can't shake it. My revelation came a number of years ago, there was an individual who I was very good friends with, he probably has done more for me spiritually than anybody else. And I disagree with him all the time. But he was an intellect. And he found our services very boring. I would often catch him sleeping.

He became a bit of a rebel-rouser. And he was saying some stuff that maybe he shouldn't have said and just trying to stir people up. And a long story short, he got kicked out one Sunday, and the senior leader came to me right away, because he knew we were friends. He said “I had to kick so and so out, and this is why.” And I said, “Well, good. You needed to. He needed to go. He shouldn't have been there. He’s a rebel-rouser.” And, of course, I went and visited with him promptly after, and it's all good. He knew it was coming. And I disagree with what he did and how he did it. But that didn't change the fact I really love this man. And what I loved about him was is he took an active interest in my life, and he still does to this day. It is very difficult to find people, Scott, that will come up to you and say, “how are you doing? How is your family? How's your wife, how's your brother, how's your brother's wife?” Someone who remembers the stories that I've told them, like, “How's your walk with God? What's going on? Where are you at?” Where are you were at with your Bible reading?

And I've referred to him from time to time as a self righteous jerk. And I tell him and his wife thinks the same from time to time, but I need him in my life. Because he challenges me, number one, and number two, he takes an active interest in the other people that are involved in my life, you don't get that very often, that is a very unique quality found in people. And so with this individual, I wasn't about to let him go. And I came to realize that my friendship with people should never be based on their association with an organization or an institution.

And so I maintain relationships with a lot of people who left for a multitude of reasons, by the way. Why, because I love these people, and I still love these people. I want to be in their life. and they want to be in mine. And so church doesn't always accommodate that all that well.

Scott deVries

There's not a real great place for that to happen, or for that to be encouraged. And it makes sense, right? We don't want to encourage people to just leave or to just, you know, if you have a disagreement just run away. I guess on one hand, we do want to encourage that, because it's a little bit safer. But on the other hand, it's not really necessarily creating healthiness for people.

If you if you had something to say to the institutional large, because we know, like both of us have traveled, we travel across North America, sometimes the world, this isn't just a local issue. This isn't just a, you know, our church or, you know, churches around us, it's all over the place. I'm curious, what what would you say to the local church in general about this? Well, what have you learned that you'd like to pass on?

Ken Smid

I think we've got to recognize that everybody that comes into our circles has something to give. I think the church at large has been unable to make place and to make space for different perspectives and for different talent but how do you accommodate everybody, right? You can't because you're setting yourself up! But I believe that, that everybody that comes into our circle has something to give, and we've got to do everything we can to find and pull the treasure out of that individual and help them find their place. Not to make them conform to our programming, to our structure, to the way we do things, but allow your church to grow organically, understanding that the people who are in your circle are the parts of the body that are there. And we need to find out how to put them into place. We can unpack that and so we could go on for hours.

And number two is we need to be so very careful that people's value is never found in what they can give, but in who they are as individuals. We've got to find a better way to restore and to value. You know, there's one individual, he we were leaders together. And he continued on with the church I was involved with for a number of years, he got to the place where he was totally burnt out, like medically dangerous, you know, and he was forced to take paternity leave, just as a way to get some kind of reprieve. And there was compensation, of course through the government.

The church didn't pay him anything. He had served this ministry for 10 years and he thought he was part of something big, he thought he was a partner. But not one mention, as far as I know, was made about him and his leaving publicly. This individual who's a very dear friend of mine today, was never acknowledged publicly. And that continues to make my blood boil. I've challenged the senior leader on it. I've told him that this is this is unacceptable and he needs to do something. A number of years have passed now but I just think, “How could a beloved pastor who had given so much, recieve no recognition?” No compensation for his investment into the building of this ministry and this was absolutely shocking to me. And you see this over and over and over again.

You know, the Bible says, grow in grace, and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace is to receive that gift you don't deserve. Right? While we were sinners, Jesus died for you and I. That’s the amazing thing about the Gospel. God picked us up, dusted us off. He called us into his own, despite our rebellion, despite all our ugliness, and I think the same grace that God measures out to us is the same grace we need to measure back out to those around us, those in our circles and those who have left our circles. I have seen that modeled, but by and large, you don't see that modeled all that well, in the church.

And I guess, I‘m very strong pastorally and so people really matter to me. And I just, I don't know, Scott, I just get I get frustrated when I see the carnage that seems to come out of the of the organized church, whether it be Catholic, Anglican, you know, whatever denomination it might be. But I continue to hear friends, in Ottawa in particular, who have left and don't want anything to do with church anymore. They feel they've drank the Kool Aid, and they, you know, they've...and I’m just like, Oh, this has to stop. And so what does that look like? I don't know.

I just believe that we are in a new day. Sometimes you've got to dismantle what's been built so it can be rebuilt. You know what I mean? Sometimes it's just easier. I'm trying to come up with a plan for housing in the north, and a friend of mine said to me the other day that it is just easier to tear them down and rebuild these homes, and I'm like, why can't we renovate? And it is much easier sometimes just to bulldoze it down and rebuild it. And that's not what I'm saying needs to happen but I do believe the church is the hope of the world. I'm a proponent of the church, I want to see it work. And I want society to recognize if it happens to be missing, so we're in this together. What does that look like? I don't know. But I'm on a journey. I believe you're on a journey. I think we all need to be on a journey. And that means having some hard conversations. And that's why I accepted this visit with you.

Scott deVries

Ken, it's been fun to chat. I have a feeling we had a bit more to chat about sometime in the future. But I love your optimism, even after everything you've done. You still have hope. And I think that's what marks Christians is that we have hope. We'd hope even when it's like, yeah, I'm not sure this is going to work. There's hope. Because I think God's up to something. I wish I knew what it was, clearly, as I bet so do you. It's sometimes it'd be great to have clarity, you know, a few years down the road of what does this look like? But I think that's what God's calling us to right. It's jumping out in faith. Sometimes it's difficult. I'm extremely proud of you for going on the journey. It's not easy.

But it's fun. And there's people along the way. That's the fun part. So it's been fun to be in relationship with you, Ken. Thanks so much for coming.

Ken Smid

It's good to be here. Thank you, Scott.

Scott deVries

And we'll chat more soon.

For everyone else. We have a couple of podcast episodes coming up - a few more. So stay tuned and have a great week.