I called Pastor Aaron because I had news from Bishop Keith that good things were happening at Blue Mountain Community Church. “The church is growing – mostly from new convert growth.” Pastor Aaron thought he was flying under the radar, even skipped out on the Regional Gatherings (shhh!), but was more than happy to share about the cool stuff happening at his church when I gave him a call.
Pastor Aaron listed some of that cool stuff, “We have just hired a Children and Youth Pastor, we have a growing Sunday morning attendance, recently baptized nine new believers and are reaching out to a new group of people who haven’t been out to church before.”
I asked Pastor Aaron to what he attributes this growth and vitality at BMCC. While there are several strategies they use, he ultimately believes it is the welcoming nature of the people in his church, who are quick to introduce people both to the church and to Jesus. Their slogan is, “Come as you are” and they mean it. Anyone and everyone is welcome through their doors.
They also go out into the community. Tim Horton’s is a popular hangout, which Aaron himself frequents. “It’s a small town. You meet one person, and then another, and then it snowballs.”
He says there is an incredible group of people from his church who are so welcoming to the community, even to himself when he started at Blue Mountain Community Church eight years ago. In fact, he never intended to go into ministry. He and his family moved to Thornbury to be closer to his wife, Lyla’s family. Aaron intended to be a police officer, but he felt the call into ministry and started volunteering at BMCC, leading the youth and pursuing his education part-time while working full-time as a dry-waller. At the time he finished his schooling, the lead pastor moved into chaplaincy work. Aaron was given the position of lead pastor, in which he has served for two years now.
Pastor Aaron says that Monday nights are a huge connection time for the church. Dinner is served and then there are break-out groups and different Bible studies you can attend. Among other studies, they offer H2O (City on a Hill) as an outreach and have seen people come to faith through that.
On a Sunday morning they see about 80 people at a service. One Monday nights, 30-50, and yet it’s not always the same people. People often make their way into the church and into faith through the Monday night program and then slowly make the transfer to Sunday mornings.
I spoke with a woman by the name of Lynn who has been attending BMCC for a couple of years. She recalls how she met Pastor Aaron at Tim Horton’s.
“I was introduced to Aaron and he mentioned the Monday night meetings. He said, ‘Would you like to come?’ I said, ‘Can I think about it?’ Aaron asked me again sometime later, ‘Would you like to come to a Monday night meeting?’ I said, ‘OK, yep. But I’m telling you right up front if I don’t feel comfortable, I won’t be back.’ He said, ‘That’s fine.’ “
Lynn mentioned that she’d had a rough childhood, hadn’t been brought up in the church and didn’t know much about the Christian faith. She was nervous to attend, but the people at BMCC made her feel so welcome. “I’ve never seen anybody greet [others] with such warmth. Everybody either gives a handshake or a hug. It meant a lot to me because I didn’t have that in my life.”
Lynn continued to go to the Monday night program and has been going to BMCC for two years now. It was through H2O that she was introduced to Jesus and then received him into her life. “Jesus is always going to be there no matter who you are or what you are… You have to look at that. No matter what you do, you are always going to be loved by him. It was difficult for me to accept. I have come a long way.”
Eventually Lynn moved from attending on Monday nights to serving on Monday nights. She used to work as a short-order cook and put those skills to work in serving the meals before the break-out groups. Lynn got baptized a year ago this month. After her baptism, Pastor Aaron gave her a Bible with a lovely inscription on it, “’Welcome…’ It felt great and I thought, I am very welcomed. I love this church now.”
In addition to being generous with their time and attention, BMCC is generous with their money. They have been able to raise enough money to contribute to two churches and three water projects in India, which Pastor Aaron, along with the chairman of the board at BMCC, will visit in October. It is obvious that for a small church, they have a big heart which extends its reach both locally and globally. These things don’t go unnoticed.
Last year, FM Bishop Gollapalli visited from India and baptizes nine new believers. This coming year, Pastor Aaron and the chairman of their board will visit his work in India.
For more information about Blue Mountain Community Church, visit www.bluemountaincommunitychurch.ca.
If you have a story of growth in your church, we’d love to hear about it. Please contact Loreli and share it with us!
And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. (Philemon 1:6 The Message)