First of 3 Stories Part C

Today’s post is to be the third and last one of what I have considered the Prologue of my Three Story description of the vision for our new project Threshold House. This prologue has involved looking at history as the inspiration and template for this vision. Solomon writes “There is nothing new under the sun.” and I think it is always good to look at the past for guidance in the present. In earlier posts I wrote about the history of the Church Army and the vital role monasticism played in saving civilization. Today’s historical look back (Is that redundant?) is more personal. I will look back at a period that was vital in shaping me as inspiration for the formation of others.

Sadly, this topic has been ‘front of mind’ this week with the death of Charlene Scriver, this week. Her husband Ernie was the Director of Training at the Church Army College of Evangelism, when I was a student. She and Ernie lived in the apartment just below the Women’s residence, an apartment Linda and I would later live in. When Linda and I were too long in our good nights at the bottom of the stairs, I remember Charlene calling out “That’s enough already!”  These are the years I think back on to take inspiration for today!

Those days were not marked by great academic learning, but they were a ‘hot house’ for formation after the image of Christ. We lived in community! This was an alien concept to me, and I did not easily adapt. It was not just community life but the disciplines of community life that caused me to grow. We worshipped and studied and worked together. As iron sharpens iron so we sharpened one another. In those days graduating classes were as close as family, and annual conferences were a family reunion.

I learned the disciplines of prayer and the importance of personal ‘Quiet Times’. I learned to rely on God by necessity and by example.

Some community examples stand out in my memory. I remember the weekly gathering the men had with Captain T at his house. He shared puns and the scriptures and made us feel valued. I recall with a smile the weekly Thursday Night Fellowship Meetings. Where we heard from visiting missionaries and preachers who would spark our imaginations and inspire us. I remember not always wanting to go but being blessed, nevertheless. I remember practical work placements, both midweek and on Sunday’s where we got to safely spread our ministry wings and grow in confidence in God’s call on our lives. I recall to that part of the curriculum called “Scrub-ology” where we were assigned tasks to clean or maintain the property. We learned to be servants and that has stood me in good stead.

Not every day was inspiring and ‘community life’ was hard slogging at times, but looking back, I now see them as the best preparation I could have had. As an introvert I found this type of living very challenging.

I write this not just for nostalgia sake, but because these are the very kind of experiences that I long to see the residents of Threshold House have. These are the same type of activities that can connect us to each other, that can connect us to the larger community, and that can connect the wider community to us.

The vision is that Threshold House become a place where in community people are formed for ministry sharing that hope. My early experiences of just this sort of formation influence my hopes for how we shape the future.

This concludes the historical Prologue and next week I will continue my Three-Story tale of the vision of Threshold House, the home of Street Hope Saint John.


First of 3 Stories: Part B

Last week I began our prologue of the 3 Story nature of our vision for Threshold House. This week I continue that thread as I look at the monastic movement (which I believe saved the church and civilization) as an inspiration and model for our ministry.

Isolation is our enemy!

We live in a culture of “aloneness with our phone-ness”, where folks sit in the same room and stare at their devices.

We live in a culture that idealises the ‘self made man’ where folks long, as the poet William Henley writes, to be “Captain of my soul.” Our grandiose attempts at self exaltation and self rule end badly. Ironically self-worship is self-destructive and becomes destructive to all around!

Isolation is our enemy! It is the lonely refuge of the addicted and the comfortable retreat for those who are recovering. I have become convinced that wellness can only really be found in connection with others and most importantly with God. Any effective ministry then must be “we” centred as opposed to “I” centred.

The church had slipped into a malaise. Organised ‘religion’ was not esteemed as it once had been. Emperor Constantine had co-opted the Church, it was no longer the powerful counter-cultural body living out the Beatitudes.

The first reaction was to withdraw. The Desert Fathers and Mothers retreated from the ‘Worldly Church’ and sought renewal in solitude. It is important to note that solitude is not isolation but in a key way, is the antithesis of isolation. These early monks sought vital connection with God! Like all connection with God this movement inevitable lead to connecting with others.

Monastic communities formed. People gathered around a shared ‘rule of life’. They lived and worked and worshipped together. God used this community movement to renew the Church and transform the world.

Too often we seek ‘to recreate the wheel’ when history provides us a splendid examples and templates for today. Across the globe today people are forming into communities centred around God. This movement has been given the title “Neo-Monasticism”, a fresh expression of a timeless way, a move from the “I” of illness to the “We” of wellness.

In such movement there are the core members of a community, but the true impact of the movement comes as this community shares life and hope with the wider community. It is by its very permeability that it is effective.

I write all this to say that we envision our Street Hope project “Threshold House” as just such a neo-monastic community. Those who live in residence will share a common ‘Rule of Life’ but that is only one part! The plan is that many others will join us, that Threshold House will become (like Celtic Monasteries) beehives of activity. That helpers and the helped together will nurture one another and that we may become a transformative community.

People will live with us for 9 – 12 months but we hope they will be part of our community well beyond that as a new cohort begins. People from local churches will be in and out our doors caring for and being cared for.

Please keep Threshold House in your prayers, and if you would like to discuss how you could be a part of our community please be in touch at:




First of 3 Stories: Part A

Threshold pc

This week as I spoke to a group about our exciting new project “Threshold House” I found myself dwelling on one particular aspect, that being the residential component. A close friend afterwards pointed out that Threshold House had three stories and I was only sharing about one of them, As I mulled this feedback over I began to see that I indeed needed to tell the tale in three stories. Today’s post is a beginning of the first story. It is the prologue. It is the history that makes sense of our present plans. This prologue is divided in three parts. Today’s offering looks at the history of the Church Army/Threshold as inspiration and a template. Later I will explore the history of monasteries as a model and finally I will share some of my own formative history that drives the creative thinking of this project. In following posts I will be bring the other two stories until we have a complete picture of the vision of “Threshold House”.

I believe the way forward is found in looking back! We, of Street Hope Saint John, are sensing a call to a radically new emphasis for our ministry. The word radical means “to the root” and we sense we are being called forward by returning to our origins.

Our history is the history of the Church Army. The Church Army had its inception during the height of the industrial revolution. It was a time of dramatic social upheaval with all the high-speed head spinning changes that accompanied it. It was a time of upheaval and no certainty about what society would look like when the dust settled.

Great swaths of the population migrated from rural life to the soon overcrowded urban centres like London. Uncertainty and unemployment led to a host of hither unknown social problems. At the heart of many of the inner-city issues was alcoholism. The combination of fear of the future and the false courage that was readily available through cheap gin, sparked strife in the social fabric. Women and children suffered, and crime and violence were rife.

It was in this setting that our founder, Wilson Carlile, realised that spiritual revival was the answer to the dilemma facing society. Changed hearts were the key to the health of the community.

He began to share with those who were in a seemingly hopeless state, that there was indeed hope, and that hope had a name. That name was Jesus!

It didn’t take long for him to realise that he alone would have limited impact on a problem so huge. He became convinced that an army of people sharing and showing hope was the best solution to this daunting problem. He set about recruiting and equipping people who had found hope, to become bringers of hope. By doing so he multiplied his impact for good, and for God!

This is our heritage. This is the mantle passed on by the laying on of hands to Evangelist to follow in this way.

As we launch our vision for Threshold House, we recognize the powerful parallels. We live in fear-filled times, and many, in seemingly hopeless states have turned to alcohol or chemicals. The only sure antidote to such fear is faith. The solution remains the same, spiritual revival!

We realise that the scope of the issue in our community is too large for our little ministry and so we are taking a radical look for guidance. We sense that like our founder we must equip an ‘army’ of hope bringers. This is the vision behind Threshold House!

We plan to create a community of people who have solidly discovered hope and through education and discipleship in the context of Christian Community. (My next epistle will be about our connection to the history of monastic living in times of social upheaval). For 9 – 12 months these residents will be readied to have an impact on our wider community. Then we will recruit the next cohort, as we multiply our impact.

At the same time, we envision, Threshold House will become a hub that fosters connections and networks with the community beyond our walls, enlisting men and women and church groups to join together to be catalysts for the spiritual revival our society needs.

Our vision takes us back to our roots. It challenges us. This is by far the biggest project we have yet undertaken but we are undaunted. If God is in this (and we believe he is!) and his people catch the vision, we know we can have an out-sized impact on the deadly scourge that plagues our community.

You can join the effort through your prayers, and financial support. Perhaps you would like to make a regular financial commitment to this project or make a onetime gift. You can do so by making payments out to Threshold Ministries and adding Threshold House in the memo section. Our address is 105 Mountain View Dr. Saint John NB E2J 5B5. We can also arrange direct deposit or Visa payments.

Thank you,