Recently in Toronto, church-planters from the Anglican Church of Canada gathered for the Vital Church Planing conference at St Paul’s-Bloor St in Toronto.
In a session, titled “Course Correction,” they looked at the struggles new churches face in the first years after they are founded. The Course Correction panel, inspired by the conference’s theme of the church as a ship on a journey, dealt with a question that many church plants face: what happens when you achieve your vision but it doesn’t turn out to be what you expected?
Building a community takes time, and not all of that time will necessarily feel purposeful. “You cannot create community unless you can waste time together,” he stressed. “The Rez [the Church of the Resurrection] is now a healthy resource parish with 500 on the parish list because we learned to waste time together and with our neighbours in a variety of ways.”
This was a point that Makins also noted. Reflecting on his experience planting a church in downtown Hamilton, Makins was candid about his struggle to accept that building a congregation involves time and a good deal of uncertainty.
Having originally planned for his church to be a neighbourhood church rooted in a few square blocks of the city, as it grew he began to realize it was made up of people from all over downtown Hamilton.
Although it wasn’t easy for him at first to acknowledge what was happening, he learned to accept it. “None of us really know what we’re doing. We’re all just experimenting and trying things out and trying to be faithful,” he said, adding laughingly that he found the process “strangely liberating.”
Bowcott came at the problems of growing a church from a very different place, but arrived at remarkably similar conclusions.
Working in a rural part of the diocese of Huron, Bowcott has personally seen the deconsecrating of 30 churches. But he has also seen the rebirth of one of those churches, St. Anne’s Mission Church, in Port Franks.
“When we die, we leave all the depression and all the baggage of the old church behind,” he said. “In a mission church, all of the new members get a chance to make decisions…it’s chaotic, it’s beautiful, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure Christian faithfulness.”
Read more here at Anglican Journal
posted by Jon White
image: Darryl Dash of the Liberty Grace church plant in Toronto speaks at the Vital Church Planting conference. Photo: André Forget