April 8, 2016

Why is everything changing?

changeHave you ever been in a phase of your life when everything seemed fairly unsettled? For some this can be a short season and for others it can be years of constant change. I have been struck by how often I’ve seen the word “shift” or “shifting” as a major theme in various reports and presentations in the past few months. One example as we look globally, is how massive groups of people from countries closed to the Gospel are re-locating to places where the Gospel can be proclaimed in freedom. Many are coming to a new faith in Jesus.

It feels like our church is entering a phase of ‘shifting’ right now. I sense that God is inviting us again to new opportunities – I believe unsettling us in a good way – as we discern our path forward. I know this can feel uncomfortable as there are a lot of things happening at once:

  • We are looking for a new pastor for our Broadway congregation.
  • We are making progress on plans for selling / developing our greenspace (the open area beside the parking lot at the Attridge site). More information on this will come at our June 5th congregation meeting.
  • We are discerning how to proceed with the invitation to start another congregation in Silverwood Heights.

What about the good old days?

Good Old DaysI find comfort in looking into our past and recognizing that our church (and our MB denomination) has been in situations like this before. In fact it’s part of our DNA! Historically, these unsettled times were opportunities to grow, transform and change. Some of these I shared at each of our sites a few weeks ago:

  • Why did our church run out of room after the first two years in our new building at Nutana during the 1960s and start discussions about expansion or moving.
  • Why did we build the Forest Grove facility with seating for more than 800 in the 1980s when our church had only 300 people?
  • Why did we become a multi-site church in 2010 and establish our second site at Broadway with a goal to add additional sites in the future?
  • Why are we reassessing our unique calling at Broadway while we search for a new pastor for that congregation?
  • Why are we considering the invitation from Living Hope Church and the Saskatchewan Mennonite Brethren Conference to take over the building and site in that location to begin a new work – a replant – in what would be our site three?

It’s all about transformation in Jesus. That the hope and the power of the Gospel of Jesus will transform individuals, families, workplaces, our city and beyond – all to the glory of God. It’s following Jesus’ call to sacrifice and multiply for the sake of others. Our predecessors knew, and we know, that we are called to be salt and light. We dare not lose our saltiness since how will we become salty again? (Mark 9:50) – “You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.” There is a direct correlation between this unity in the church and saltiness. My prayer is that we will live both of these out as we discern the way forward together.

What’s next?

Many attended our March 13th meeting and I was so encouraged by the positive spirit of unity, the good discussions, and the passion for God’s kingdom work, that was expressed by people of many ages. There was significant support for continuing with our discernment of a new north site at Living Hope and some great questions from many of those who are feeling cautious about proceeding. We are planning to continue the dialogue with another information session on Sunday, April 17th immediately following both services (at Broadway and Attridge) where we will have further updates on the questions raised on March 13th. Then in similar fashion (immediately following both services) on Sunday, May 15th we will ask our church members to vote on the path forward. We continue to ask for your prayer, your discernment and your input.

We have tentatively planned for our next Prayer Summit to be on Sunday, May 1st. Please mark your calendars for this key time to pray together in our discernment. More information soon.

What about the issues people raised?

We have had some good initial discussions with a number of qualified and gifted potential candidates asking about the Broadway position. It will be exciting to see who God leads to this position, and also to the pastor position at the north site if we proceed with that as well. One of the benefits if we were to be discerning and hiring two site pastors in a similar time frame is the efficiencies of considering candidates fit for the uniqueness of each site as well as the orientation and training that needs to happen.

There are also numerous individuals and couples who have expressed strong interest in being part of the north site if we are to proceed. It is their story to tell others (not ours) once they are prepared to do so, but we are greatly encouraged by the response we’ve seen already.

We are aware of much of the history of the two churches previously in the Silverwood location. We are seeking to understand the leadership, spiritual, and structural issues that were there as best we can. But at the same time realize that this would be a completely new work after closure and months of dormancy.

As a multi-site church we already have one common vision, mission, values and structure. They are:

  • visiontransformation in Jesus Christ
  • to be a covenant community that loves God, disciples one another and reaches out from the river to the ends of the earth
  • Faith / Dependence / Relationships / Relevance
  • each congregation has unique structures and expressions of 1) Corporate Worship 2) Missions 3) Small Groups and 4) Family Ministries

Each of these would be further refined by the leadership group of the north site, council and staff, but there is already lots of clear vision in place.

I really appreciate all the expressions of support for our staff during this process and the concern for the additional workload it places on us. While there’s no question there will be more work, each new pastor brings enthusiasm, gifting and support that will be a blessing to all of us. And our current staff are committed and willing to serve the church in whatever ways are needed, working alongside and training others for the work of the ministry.

Where is our focus?

We serve an unchanging, faithful God who continually changes us. As we journey through these exciting times together, I want us to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and the incredible opportunity we have to be transformed more and more into His image as we walk in obedience and faith, bringing the message and hope of the Gospel to our city and beyond.

Blessings for the journey.

Bruce Signature

Bruce Enns
Lead Pastor
Forest Grove Community Church