Can We Make This Change?

February 12, 2018
by Peggy White

PART TWO – January 24, 2018

Jeremiah 26:13 – So do something about it! Change the way you're living, change your behavior. Listen obediently to the Message of your God. Maybe God will reconsider the disaster he has threatened. (MSG)

In Part One of our saga, First Presbyterian Church in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada, realized that because of finances, we had to leave our church building and move. We were hoping to find a developer who would take our old church, build us a new, smaller, manageable sanctuary and take the rest of the land and building for apartments.

Our first stumbling block has arrived. The developer has taken on a church building in nearby St. Catharines, and will not be working on our site. Now, what will we do? Rev. Bartha and his committee have found us an empty storefront downtown that will become our temporary home for a few years. This building needs some renovations, but a storefront? A storefront ministry? What do we know about a storefront ministry?

A retired minister from our congregation, Rev. Larry Beverly, has led us in "vision" meetings about the kind of congregation that we want to be. We can't stay the same. We are learning through prayer, Scripture, and messages what a storefront ministry might be. Through much soul-searching, prayer, and discussion, we were getting a bit excited! We have been busy making plans to re-plant ourselves downtown and define a new missionary thrust for our congregation. It might sound easy, but it wasn't and it isn't. As Jeremiah urged in today's verse, we had to change. We had to do something about how we were living. We had to change our behaviour. Then, maybe we could survive as a congregation and continue to worship and serve God.

But everyone does not want or desire change, no matter what the consequences. Several of our members and elders left for other churches. Elders meetings, although successful, were volatile and long. Finances, emotions, and expectations were always the culprit in our great change. On the positive side, we had many volunteers to help renovate the new space into a new "church". A general contractor, drywallers, cleaners, and people providing lunches kept our spirits high.

So far, our congregation has made the first steps in changing. We are trying hard, as Jeremiah tells us, to listen obediently to the Message of our God. All our energies are being directed to change a closed building (an old formal church) to a new ministry, called The Gathering Place, open to our community; to change from a mission that was cerebral to one that is full of activity and is people-oriented. We are learning what needs we can fill in the downtown and how we can serve our community.

The believers of First Presbyterian Church, Port Colborne, are down on our knees, accepting the challenge and plowing on with change!

The world is constantly changing around us. God is urging us to change the way that we reach out and minister to it. Are we willing to follow as He leads us?

Prayer: Father God, we ask that You would give all Your people the spirit to want to continue Your church, even though the way of doing "church" may be changing. We ask for Your help for all people who need to make large changes in their lives — changes that are so difficult. Show us the way, Lord. Lead on! Amen.

About the author:

Peggy White <bpwhite777@cogeco.ca>
Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    A great challenge and I pray you make it.


    You’re doing a wonderful thing for your community too. Keep on keeping on!


    What a challenge your congregation is facing! But you are inspiration to the rest of us. Thank you.


    Thank you for sharing your continuing story you are an inspiration to us all.
    Keep on truckin’!


    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. May God bless your endeavors as you follow His leading. Blessings.


    I think this devotion will be so very helpful to many people. Thank you for detailing the beginning of this journey with Christ as centre.


    Peggy, this is so exciting! What a wonderful new ministry opportunity God has given your congregation. We look forward to reading “Part 3”!


    We pray for your project and your determination to make it happen. There are so many of us facing the same problem. Thank you for sharing your project with us.


    God wants us to share our Hope and Faith in Him everywhere we go. What a wonderful opportunity you are embarking on! May He richly bless your endeavours in leading others to Him.


    Dear Peggy, Thanks so much for both of your inspiring devotionals. I hope you will continue to keep us updated, even through the struggles. I will be praying for your new work. God bless you all.


    Refreshing! Exciting future ahead! Lots of hard work! Lots of set backs.
    But forge ahead.
    May God’s rich blessings be with you!


    Praying for your church and for the people who will be attracted by your fresh approach to serving our Lord.
    Blessings from a friend in Christ.


    Thank you for sharing this story. It is unique, but many of us have wondered about such things. God is leading you by grace, it is marvelous, and like God’s people of old.
    Praying for you.


    I applaud your faith and courage. These are hard times for our denomination in Canada and the U.S. Change is hard. My prayers are with everyone going on your faith journey.
    (TX U.S.)


    Keep forging ahead on your knees, you’re on the right path.
    Pentecostals have had success with storefront ministries. Maybe go on line and find some to get some ideas.
    Blessings.


    Good luck with your church project. Churches are dying and closing everywhere. Churches have rented out their sanctuary to other worship groups, and their rent helps. Sad, prayers for you all and your determination and heart. A group near me are meeting in a House.


    Thanks Peggy – a great and affirming devotional!
    You are in our prayers as you find another way to ‘do church’. Please assure your congregation of our love and prayers as they adapt to change – which can be difficult!
    May God bless and guide you during these days.


    Our town houses three large churches dating back between 100 and over 200 years old that has Services as a meeting place to worship God!
    Over these years they went from being filled to well under 100 in attendance!
    Where have all the Christians gone? Or what is happening in our world?


    Peggy,
    As someone who has moderated/overseen the closing of too many churches who have clung to their old facilities, confusing church building for church people, I applaud the courage of your congregation and pray for its future.
    Blessings.


    Dear Peggy:
    Thank you for your two-part message about facing change with faith and courage. The example of your church is an inspiration to all congregations facing the challenges of change in our increasingly secular society. May God bless, sustain and strengthen your congregation as they continue their witness in your community.


    Dear Peggy
    As I mentioned I my last email regarding Part 1 of your adventure, we went through similar circumstances. Some people left because they couldn’t fathom change. But, like you, we prayed and listened for God’s guidance. Today, we are a combined/amalgamated church, worshipping together as one in Christ. We are growing and it is a pleasure going to church. Amen to your prayer.


    WoW, isn’t it amazing what God can do if we seek His Will.
    I pray that your efforts will reap a rich reward.
    I pray that those who left may support your changes.
    It may be that other congregations will be encouraged to move out in change also if this is the Lord’s Will.
    Many Blessings.


    Dear Peggy,
    I feel your pain as I read your devotional. I just want you to know that you and your congregation will be in my thoughts and prayers as you take on this new mission.
    We do get so set in our devotional ways that it can be a great upheaval to stop and listen.
    Blessings as you pray, listen and follow!


    Greetings Peggy,
    My prayers are with you and your congregation as you go through these changes of relocation. Change is never easy especially when it involves a number of different personalities voicing their thoughts and ideas. May the Lord’s plans for your congregation prevail as you continue worship and community outreach.
    Blessings,
    (B.C.)


    Dear Lady, Peggy,
    So much pain. Stick to the Word of God.
    Dare to go beyond denominational usuals.
    Choose the way of Jesus Christ in all things.
    Only in reaching new people will the street church succeed.
    God bless you and many other churches that are struggling.


    Hello Peggy
    I really enjoyed your devotional today, it actually got me excited as I kept reading. The possibilities are endless when we open ourselves to be used and get out of our comfort zones. WOW!! good for you followers of Christ. Praying that even the small positives act as a great incentive to keep going and confirmation you are on the right track. We also had ones at our church who didn’t want change. Some left and others came. Makes me think of the scripture verse where Jesus prunes the vines so new ones can grow.
    Praying for open doors and as the congregation shows genuine love and compassion they will have a full house. This too can help the community know that even big churches have to make changes and humble themselves to do what God wants and needs them to be doing. This could speak volumes to the community that will soon be congregation!!! Praise God for He is faithful.
    God bless!


    What an inspirational message Peggy!
    So wonderful that there are enough of you sharing the vision for change and putting energy into it.
    I pray that our Loving Heavenly Father will surround you all with his love and strength and look forward to hearing more about your progress.
    Blessings.


    Hi Peggy,
    I remember part 1. There are indeed a lot of challenges ahead of us in the Christian faith. I think, so far, apathy is the biggest hindrance as far as church attendance is concerned. Almost all the places I go there are no young people, and so often I hear the words, “How much longer can we go on this way?”
    As you said in your prayer, “Show us the way Lord!”
    Thank you for writing.


    Dear Peggy,
    Your devotional is a challenging one for the church, and a strong message of hope. I praise God for how He is at work in your midst, and He is faithful! You and your congregation’s ministry is and will be in my prayers as you, the sheep, move on into new pasture with your Shepherd.
    Our Session also confirmed a new, storefront ministry. There will be people whom the Lord will draw through the doors, but who would not feel safe entering a large church building. The Lord will equip us for our ministries in His name, in spite of “stumbling blocks” and steep learning curves! I will be interested in hearing more anytime.
    God bless you all.

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