Q & a with John Liira
John Liira has served as lead
pastor at Highway Christian Fellowship – an EFC-affiliated congregation – in Sidney, B.C. since
1999. He entered the ministry in
1981 in Calgary and has ministered in various locations, including East Africa. He and his wife
Margaret have three children.
What is your greatest joy in ministry?
I experience tremendous joy in seeing the next generation passionately embracing the life and Kingdom of
Jesus Christ. The manner in which the younger generation is reshaping the proclamation of the gospel while
retaining the integrity of the message is so invigorating.
Although the statistics point to a mass exodus of young
adults from the church, it is not all bad news! There is a
groundswell of young adults who are also entering a life
of genuine abandonment to the cause of Jesus Christ.
What has been your greatest struggle?
In more recent times I have struggled with the current
trend of some Christians disengaging from the local
church. I would be one of the first to admit that the church
in North America is overindulged with an inward focus,
and this must be addressed with a drastic change in values
and lifestyle choices. However, it pains me to see people
stepping away from the local church and then attempting to look at it from the outside in with a critical eye.
What is the best theological book you’ve read in the
This may come as a surprise to some, but I would say it is
Chuck Colson’s book The Body (Thomas Nelson, 1994). I
know, it is not a current bestseller, but it certainly wields
a powerful challenge that has still not been embraced.
What is your greatest concern for the Canadian
That we lower the bar and settle for much less than we
are called to. We are in a far more desperate state than we
readily admit. The church has always been most potent
in society when we embrace the cross, and my concern
is that the central message of the faith is not being emphasized enough.
What book is on your nightstand right now?
ence by Emerson Eggerichs (Thomas Nelson, 2011). It
is a good book for any stage of married life!
What is your best advice for those entering ministry
Be yourself and don’t seek your validation from the
people you serve. Balance your time so that the spiritual
life principle of abiding in Christ is not swallowed up by
other demands. With the present emphasis on technology in ministry, it’s easy to spend way too much time
on that. Remember, you are a shepherd of souls. Finally,
relax a bit! Ministry has so many components and we
tend to try to perfect each one of them so that things
operate seamlessly. There is seldom a time where things
don’t unravel to some degree despite our best efforts.
What are the specific challenges – and joys – you face
doing ministry in Sidney, B.C.?
My wife Margaret and I have served in Sidney for almost
14 years, and this has been the best ministry experience
we have had. Highway Christian Fellowship is an amazing community of Christians. Our tagline is simply “love
found, love given,” and this is how we try to live every
day. Are there bumps and inconsistencies? At times, yes,
but nothing that has derailed or distracted Body life for
long. Sidney is a very idyllic seaside town that has a mix
of retired people and the younger generation that are
attempting to put down roots here. The needs of the
two groups are very different and resourcing them can
be a challenge with a limited volunteer force. We have
much to grow into to show the world the essence of true
biblical community. FT