Daily Devotional – Wednesday, April 21, 2021
“But forget all that [I did in the past]— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NLT)
For those of you familiar with Thom Ranier’s book, “Autopsy of a Deceased Church,” you will have heard that the death of a church, just as the birth of a church, is normative. There is a natural life cycle that comes to all living organisms which includes death so that life can be reborn. I have been wondering if our church, Hope Chapel, was at the point of needing to ‘die’ and to receive a dignified burial. From an historical perspective, our church will be 124 years old this year and here we are once again struggling financially. Earlier in the week, I began praying with all earnest for God to reveal his plan for our congregation. Does he want us to shut down or not?
This morning, I believe I got his very direct answer…and I now “see it!” The church formerly known as Collingwood Evangelical Missionary Church has already died, in fact has been dead for some time. “Hope Chapel,” while meeting in an old building, is actually a new work that has yet to officially celebrate its first birthday! Our church today is like the sapling that is growing beside the dead stump where a tree once flourished, but is no more. Hope Chapel is not a dying church struggling to survive; it is in fact a new church plant needing help to thrive, just as all babies do. God has ‘already begun’ his work of doing something new, but because there was no dramatic death or funeral for what was, I hadn’t fully recognized what he was doing. I now do!
In the past year, despite COVID 19, restrictions and closures, Hope Chapel has been a construction site, with God as the foreman.
• The pews are gone and the sanctuary ready for a new form of discipleship training—once we can physically meet again it will not be as performers on stage with rows for an audience, but as engaged participants.
• Youth for Christ (YFC) has relocated to the church building, and without having to carry the burden of renting a facility, are now free to expand their ideas for doing ministry and have established a ‘Clothing Room’ that has been well-received and is meeting the needs of many within the neighbourhood.
• A partnership of churches and YFC has developed to provide a ministry to the high school students across the road from Hope Chapel—prior to our most recent shutdown, we were seeing an average of 40-50 students at our door every school day, enjoying refreshments, connecting with the volunteers and entering into conversations about God.
• Like many churches, our ministries have gone online and we have seen people able to join us on Sunday mornings and for discipleship training and Bible studies throughout the week from as far away as Kitchener, British Columbia, Chicago and Barbados—distance is no longer a deterrent.
• We are also actively reaching into our neighbourhood, demonstrating tangible acts of kindness and our neighbours have taken notice—just recently I had one of our neighbours, who has had no previous connection to our church, asking how she might make a donation. The ground is being tilled and the Holy Spirit is granting us favour.
• We have even cleared the way to sell the parsonage in order that we might become financially self-sustaining, but given all the steps required, it is still close to a year before we will receive any benefit from that decision.
In the meantime, for all the good things I see God doing in our new church plant of Hope Chapel, I also recognize our need for his Sovereign hand to sustain us in the now. Please pray for us. We need help just as any newborn needs support. I am asking if anyone reading this note will consider partnering with God in this new work, Hope Chapel. I am not asking that anyone reduce their current support to other ministries, but rather asking whether or not God would have you lend your help, in the same attitude of 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” For those who are unable to help financially, know that we value your prayers. God has begun the work and he will sustain it, but he often asks us to partner with him in that work. What an incredible privilege! As God’s children, we are all in his service together.
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!