Last Sunday, our church met to vote on the direction we’d like to move as a congregation, collectively and separately. We debated launching a new church based on a framework of fellowship, community and service. After all the consultations and discussions over the spring, we voted 91% to approve releasing willing members of the congregation to launch this new church.
We’re very excited for this new project, and to have such a high percentage of the congregation behind us. There is still a great deal of logistical work to be done (including further work with our association to secure funding for the venture etc.), but it seems like things may move forward fairly rapidly now. The basic goal that we’re starting from is “to build a new, casual, contemporary, neighbourhood church that embraces spiritual seekers in ever-enlarging circles of compassion”.
Our next steps will be to start meeting together to plan how exactly how this church would work, and strategies on how we would be a part of the community around the church, as well as ways to incorporate the frameworks of fellowship and service we envision in our own home communities.
I think this is what gives me the most hope and optimism for this venture…I feel as if different elements of my life are coming together in a positive way. As we’ve become more involved in our Argyle community and the greater community of London, I’ve come to crave a church that authentically strives to be a part of the city. In this past week at the Tamarack Institute neighbours gathering I feel I’ve also learned ways that community and church leadership can come together to collaborate, insights I hope to share soon.
That isn’t to say in any way that First Baptist isn’t already doing great work for the downtown community, but I’ve still found something lacking in my own goals and aspirations for community involvement as an expression of my faith. This seems to be a sentiment echoed by many I’ve spoken to that hope to be a part of this new church plant. It is my hope that in this work our desires may be fulfilled, and that we may be truly a positive force for good in the city.
Yesterday we experimented with a “pulpit swap” with two other churches, hearing messages from other pastors and sharing in their thoughts and perspective. Our contemporary service welcomed the pastor of our previous church (Egerton Street Baptist) and family friend Dave Snihur. His message centred on the idea of “thinking outside the box”, a familiar theme, but focused on what it can mean for our church plant. I greatly appreciate that he dove fearlessly into what is a somewhat sensitive issue as our church tries to find its direction, and he shared excellent thoughts on what the plant may mean for us.
The “box” he talked about is our comfort zone, where we would like to adapt God’s plan into our own plan. Dave reminded us that God’s path isn’t easy, and very rarely happens where we are comfortable. In particular, he and any others that have been involved in a church plant can tell you that the launch is both exhilarating and exhausting, and has to be a marathon instead of a sprint. It helped me imagine what life might be like for both Sarah and I as we work towards this new church, and to earnestly ask if this church will be something truly new to our community and the city, or if we are just leaving one box for another. It is also a challenge to examine our lives and weigh what is truly important, what our priorities are, and make sure that we don’t become burned out with everything we try to achieve.
I hope to continue to write on this as we work and think and imagine the church and community we’d like to build. There will be plenty of challenges ahead, as we work to find balance between the First Baptist community and this new church, and making sure that both are well supported and cared for. I’m excited for this new possibility, but never at the expense of the parent church. Continued thoughts and prayers as we move through this challenging but exciting process would be greatly appreciated!