From Pastor Dan Endersen
Deacon Alan recently wrote,
“In January 2019, we will have been gathering as a community in Christ for ten years. As such, Corporation has decided that we should spend time together this year renewing our Vision and, more importantly, how we incorporate this vision in our daily lives, both individually and as a corporate body, to become a congregation of bold witnesses, biblically grounded, loving children and families, on mission, and planting and growing churches (Bishop Charlie’s 5 Priorities). Of course, we realize that we cannot do this outside of God’s will and provision which we discover in His Word and in prayer. As such, we are calling the congregation together for a time of prayer of discernment...”.
That’s what the first Visioning Prayer Meeting was for on June 3, and that is what our Visioning Day held on December 1 was for too. When we set out ten years ago, we made both mission and vision statements.
Our Mission: “Proclaiming Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, as revealed in Holy Scripture, and serving all people for His Sake”.
This is our mission, because Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
He said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)
He said, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49).
He said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Now none of the 12 disciples made it to the end of the earth called Canada. So the mission goes on. And from these words of Jesus we can see that “Proclaiming Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, as revealed in Holy Scripture” is the Church’s primary mission – that’s what we are here to do. And “Serving all people for His sake” is to that end. Our dependence on the Holy Spirit is vital to our fulfilling that mission. The disciples did wait, as Jesus told them to in Jerusalem – Acts 1:14 says, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers”. They did that until they received the promise Jesus spoke about. And when the Holy Spirit fell on them and then they spoke “the wonderful works of God to Jews and proselytes from every nation – that’s the Church’s job (Acts 2:47 b) “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” – that’s the Lord’s job.
We read on in Acts that the Lord did amazing things through the apostles to affirm their witness of Him, and many of these miracles served as catalysts that God used to get the attention of the non-believers around them. And the Holy Spirit specifically led them – even through an angel of the Lord saying, “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).
But as the church grew, the Apostles found they could not administer the Church on their own – in fact it wasn’t their job to do so. Prayer and the ministry of the Word was their job (Acts 6:4). The apostles said, “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them (Acts 6:3-6).
From that point on, “the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied...” (Acts 6:7). Proclaiming Christ became not only what the Apostles did, but what everyone in the Church did. And when everyone did it, it caused such a stir that there was much opposition and persecution – Stephen was stoned to death and the Christian community scattered. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). From that point on we read stories of others, beside the apostles, getting specific words from the Lord where to proclaim Jesus – like Philip in Acts 8.
Then in Acts 11:19-21, we read, “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” That is how the Church worked in Acts. What about us?
What do we have to do to proclaim Jesus Christ effectively to the people of the West Island and beyond? The same thing as the early Church – pray, and speak the wonderful works of God as led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. How and where can we serve, as individuals and as a community? Listen to Acts 11:22-30:
“Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul”.
And Acts 13:1-3:
“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away”.
Is that what we desire for St. Timothy’s?
Now to our Vision: And remember it must be first of all, God’s vision. “We are a Christ-centred and Bible-based church...”, As Pastor Mario shared with us, at Parkside, God has to be number one. Being Christ centered we must first of all strive to do as Jesus said, “... love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31).
So the first question each individual must always ask is, “What priority has God and his Church in our lives”? Is He first? Next, does everything we do as a Church spring from the Bible? Are we truly, “...built on a foundation of the apostles’ teaching...”? As far as Bishop Charlie’s 5 Priorities go – that’s what it means to be biblically grounded. What about “...fellowship...”? How are we doing there? Should we have a mid-week worship and fellowship time at the church again? What about “...the breaking of bread...”? That’s eating together as well as communion, i.e., ...Christians in the early Church were, “breaking bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46) daily. What about “...prayer” (Acts 2:42)? How is our individual and corporate prayer life? How are we doing in these four areas? We have to ask God, “How can we do better?”
“In our evangelism and our service, we seek to move outside ourselves to impact our community and our world with the good news of the redemptive and transforming power of Jesus Christ” Do we? That is what it means to be a bold witness on mission, two of the priorities. How are we doing in this area – individually and corporately?
There are opportunities, even now, at the Cambridge and Manoir Kirkland, Praise in the Parlour, La Corde, the Ste. Anne’s group, VBS, AWANA, visiting, and programs such as Alpha (no programs were offered this Fall). Members are involved but more members could be. Again, we have to ask God, “How can we do better?”
“We strive to be a community where people from all walks of life feel welcomed, loved, and encouraged to grow in their faith and in good works”. I think we are that. And if we would add, “especially children” we would have another one of the priorities covered in our vision statement. “We support the discovery and use of each Christian’s spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ”. We must ask ourselves, “How do we do that? Student internships? Is that the only way? Again, we must ask God, “How can we do better?” Can we encourage one another more, perhaps like Barnabas did in Acts 9 and 11? “And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out” (Acts 9:26-28).
Should the board meet with individual members for this type of discernment and discovery of gifts, or should it come through prayer and prophecy, even today? Should the members choose, from among them, people to send as ministers and missionaries? Again, we must ask God. “Our worship and fellowship are a balance between Anglican traditions and contemporary expressions of faith which allow us to reach out to our society and culture”. Is that working? Is this still our vision? Is the vision respected by the decisions that Corporation makes? Is it a description of our church or what we want to be? What if anything, should be changed?
Thank you for gathering us together as Your Church in this specific place, at this specific time. Help us to live up to our calling. Give to us at St. Timothy’s a renewed desire to pray. Help us to persist in prayer, so that: together we may know Your will, have an awareness of Your loving goodness, and Your ability to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, that we may be witnesses in our communities to Your grace and power, praising and glorifying You.
We ask this in the Name of our Risen Saviour, Jesus.