People are talking, asking, and reading about the new Imagine Heaven series that starts next week. Check out this article posted in the Barrie Examiner and the Orillia Packet & Times.
A recent Gallup poll found that 20 million people living in Canada and the United States all say that they believe they have experienced a near-death experience. Another says 1 in 25 have made that claim.
Churches have historically been reluctant to explore near-death-experiences (or NDEs), wondering whether they can be trusted or whether they contradict what the Christian scriptures teach about the afterlife.
Connexus Church is about to change that, as it launches a new six week sermon series called “Imagine Heaven,” which starts August 14 at its Barrie and online campus (www.connexusliveonline.com) and August 21 at its Orillia campus.
Connexus’ Founding and Teaching Pastor, Carey Nieuwhof, has read more than a few books on NDEs over the years, but none as compelling to him as the New York Times-bestselling title, Imagine Heaven, released last year. Imagine Heaven author John Burke interviewed and studied more than a thousand people’s NDE stories.
Burke’s unique methodology of interlacing NDEs with scripture so captured Nieuwhof’s attention, that Nieuwhof cold-called the best-selling-author to ask him about his findings.
That led to a series of interviews Nieuwhof did with Burke, both for Nieuwhof’s Leadership Podcast (on iTunes) and for the 100 Huntley Street television program on Global and Yes-TV.
“John’s methodology was really interesting to me,” said Nieuwhof. “He made a point to only interview people who would lose credibility by telling their story; an orthopedic surgeon, an atheistic tenured professor—people who would have no incentive to share something like that unless it had profoundly impacted them. As a former lawyer, that was compelling to me. Burke’s methodology eliminated people who would have something to gain by telling the kind of story that arises out of an NDE.”
What shocked Nieuwhof the most is how so many NDE experiences actually affirmed what Scripture has said all along about the afterlife. It’s the juxtaposition between NDEs and scripture that will be the heart of the Imagine Heaven series at Connexus Church.
Plus, as Nieuwhof points out, the afterlife is a universal human issue. “As much as we don’t want to think about it, 100% of us will eventually die,” said Nieuwhof, who is teaching the series. “So what’s on the other side? And can the stories of people today who believe they’ve had near-death experiences give us an idea of what’s really there?”
Each week of the series, Connexus will share some of the interviews Burke conducted with NDE survivors and look at scripture to answer the questions so many people have: What happens when we die? If Heaven is real, what’s it like? Will we meet family in heaven? Does everyone go to Heaven? And, finally, how does what I believe about Heaven impact my life today?
Sunday services happen at 9am and 10:30am at Connexus’ Barrie and Orillia locations and live online every Sunday at the same times at ConnexusLiveOnline.com. For directions, details and to plan your visit, go to ConnexusChurch.com.
In The Meantime — Part 6 — Comfort Zone | Andy Stanley
When we’re in the midst of pain and suffering, it can feel like we’ll never be happy again, nothing good can come from our circumstances, and there’s no reason to continue living. But those are lies. God can redeem, use, and work through our pain. And when he does, we eventually have the opportunity to comfort others. There is a “Fellowship of Suffering.” People who’ve suffered are uniquely equipped and qualified to comfort people who are suffering.
9.00 and 10.30 am | 20 Mills Road, Barrie
In The Meantime — Part 5 — Believe It or Not | Andy Stanley
Jesus told his followers that unavoidable trials aren’t aberrations; they are expectations. They can actually serve a beneficial purpose. Why? Because God can redeem, use, or work through the undeserved, unavoidable, circumstantial trials in our lives. But in order for that to happen, we have to believe and persevere.
9.00 and 10.30 am | Galaxy Cineplex, Orillia