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.
PART TWO – January 24, 2018