On location at the FEB Central Regional Conference

There are a lot of exciting things happening right now in the life of our church! Did you catch the announcement on Sunday about the launch of our Life Groups? We have eight groups meeting in various places and locations this month and I’d love to have you be a part of one. Over the years I’ve found that small groups are a key ingredient in the life of a growing Christian. I hope you won’t try to go it alone but rather make time in your week for fellowship with other believers. Take a look through the bulletin at the opportunities available and e-mail one of the leaders a note to say you’re coming.

After church on Sunday we had over 20 people gather for a lunch meeting to discuss a new Congregational Care Team we’ll be launching next month. I’m hopeful that with more organization and people involved we’ll be able to do a better job in caring and supporting one another as a congregation. And finally, next Sunday, ministry leaders will be gathering for a mock Town Hall Meeting to discuss our proposed Two Services Implementation Plan. Please pray for us as we make final adjustments and decisions in advance of our Congregational Town Hall Meeting Sunday May 1.

This has been a short week for me as I attended the FEB Central Regional Conference on Tuesday. FEB Central refers to the Ontario and Quebec region of The Fellowship, the denomination of churches of which we are members. While we pay to be a member of the Fellowship, most people don’t understand what a church association like this provides. One of the things I’ve appreciated is the support that it gives to me as your pastor. Conferences like the one on Tuesday provide an opportunity to learn and network with other like-minded leaders. Every church is assigned to an association shepherd who oversees the health of the pastor and regularly checks in for encouragement and prayer. One statistic I’ve heard said that 40% of pastors surveyed said that they had considered leaving the ministry in the last three months and 70% of pastors say they don’t have a close friend. Thanks in part to the encouragement I receive through the Fellowship, I don’t feel the discouragement or the isolation that is prevalent among church leaders. Beyond my health, the Fellowship’s support staff exist to help churches that are struggling by offering church consultations and pastoral support. We’re not alone!

Committing together in fellowship with other churches also allows us to do things that we could never effectively do alone. I appreciate the theological clarity and ministry focus that Heritage Theological Seminary has due in large part to the oversight and support that they have as an institution from the Fellowship. And by working together, the Fellowship has been able to develop a solid infrastructure for church planting. In the last year alone, there were fourteen church plants begun in our region. One of the most exciting reports at the conference was from Bechara Karkafi. He is helping to equip the Fellowship to reach Arabic-speaking people in our region. Thanks in part to his vision and help, the Fellowship currently has Arabic-speaking church plants in Ottawa, Montreal and Brampton and plans to begin new congregations in Cornwall, Kingston, Oakville and Toronto. The Arab church plant in Montreal is being led by a former radical Muslim who came to faith in Christ fourteen years ago and now is reaching Muslims with the Good News and is active among the Syrian refugees who have arrived in Canada.

Tuesday’s conference began and ended in worship and messages by Don Carson. He told a story about Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones was a former medical doctor who felt God calling him as a pastor and went on to become one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century. He shared the following:

“When he was dying of cancer, one of his friends and former associates asked him, in effect, ‘How are you managing to bear up? You have been accustomed to preaching several times a week. You have begun important Christian enterprises; your influence has extended through tapes and books to Christians on five continents. And now you have been put on the shelf. You are reduced to sitting quietly, sometimes managing a little editing. I am not so much asking therefore how you are coping with the disease itself. Rather, how are you coping with the stress of being out of the swim of things?’ Lloyd-Jones responded in the words of Luke 10: ‘Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’”

It was a reminder to me that my hope doesn’t exist in my activity. And there will come a day when our physical limitations will catch up with all of us. But it’s then when we see where our hope really lies – not in witnessing the power of God but in counting precious the forgiveness and grace of God in Christ. May that hope be all of ours today!
In awe of Him,