Tests. No, not the academic type that you can study and prepare for but the “James chapter 1 verse 3” type: “…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” The thing about the life of faith is that you don’t get to choose what type of test God will give you. I want to share with you how God has tested our fellowship of believers the past year.
Our church was comprised of some very special people. Some who had been Christians for many years, others were growing in their faith, and others who struggled to make progress. The problem we confronted was the desire to maintain a form of church life that was inherited from previous generations and and unwillingness to let that go in order to win a new generation. For example, one of our young men was learning to play the drums. At the end of the service he was met by one of the members saying that his playing drums was not what the church does. Another example, a dating couple were told that their relationship was not proper and they should not be attending our church.
Through prayer and the devotion of godly people we persevered through these and other difficulties. We sought to “right the ship” but always were met with stiff opposition. Our leadership team were of one mind that the church had to change in many ways. We sought to introduce the concepts of Thom Rainer’s book “Simple Church” but it was too little too late.
As pastor, I began to sense that something radical needed to be done. When you have a major disease pulling the sliver out of your finger will not help. Our church needed “major league” help. Together with our elders and key ministry leaders we began to pray. But we prayed with the recognition that the church did not belong to us. She was God’s, she belonged to Him, lock, stock and barrel. We were mere “stewards” or “caretakers”. As such, our only interest was to see God glorified in whatever would be done.
In August 2016, our leadership team travelled together to Surrey, British Columbia, Canada to meet with the leadership of one of the fastest growing churches in Canada, Village Church. Pastor Mark Clark and his team opened the arms and extended their love to us. They talked to us about planting a church in a major metropolitan Canadian city. We were left amazed, and filled with the desire to see God work in and through us for His glory and the reaching of many people for Christ.
Remember I said that the church does not belong to us. It is amazing what God will do when we are all about His glory and not our fame! We did not know how to move forward but we knew what needed to be done. Our church needed to end and a new church needed to be planted in her place. As God moved and brought key people into the picture, we met a church planter who was the ideal person to plant the church. My role would be eliminated but I was more interested in God being glorified than I was in my own interests.
Our physical meeting place was gifted to the new ministry to serve as their ministry centre. You see, we threw in our keys, we decided that God was leading us to sacrifice in order that Calgary be reached with the gospel. This was our test of faith! We put God before ourselves and I believe God is going to honour that attitude.
I would like to tell you about the end of the story but it is still being written. This past Sunday, September 17, 2017 Village Church Calgary was launched. Over 400 people attended the launch! My wife and I attended and just rejoiced to see what God is going to do! Pastor Vihn Doan is doing a phenomenal job leading this ministry, he has assembled a great team who will make a huge impact here.
Was it worth the personal sacrifice? Here is how James 1:12 responds to that question: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which the God has promised to those who love him.”
To God be the Glory great things he has done and is going to do! How can we say that? Because at the end of the day, it is NOT about us!