In the February edition of Upwords (a publication of First FMC in Moose Jaw, SK) I read an article about the history of Alberta’s Ellice FMC. The article ended with this, “The church is surrounded by farm land, 13 kilometers from Bashaw, the nearest town. The aging and dwindling congregation and decrease of the rural population in general led to a decision to close the church. The final service was held Dec. 29, 2013. We trust that as members join other churches they will continue to have a ministry in the wider kingdom of God.”
I felt sad learning of Ellice closing its doors just as our group of Jesus followers is getting serious about officially planting a church. It made me again consider the weight of this whole church planting gig and its unknown outcome.
Of course then I heard Director of Church Planting Jared Seibert’s voice echoing in my head from a recent yet to be released church planting video I shot a couple of months ago, “The simple answer is that all denominations engage in church planting at some time or another. All churches had to have started somewhere. And the real challenge is that churches don’t last forever. Very few of the churches that Paul started in his ministry exist today and by very few I mean none whatsoever. So denominations have to start new churches in order to continue to place the gospel within the reach of the people they are called out to reach.”
And it was that last bit, “In order to continue to place the gospel within the reach of the people they are called out to reach” that got me. That is exactly why we are planting a church.
But back to Ellice FMC, I had a great chat with now retired Pastor David Panton about his thirty-one years of ministry at Ellice FMC. He can’t recall any highs or lows just the everyday flow of prairie life but when I asked about the closing of the church he said, “The bottom line was we were not bringing people to Christ.”
And that put this whole church planting thing into perspective for me. We want to place the gospel in front of our neighbors in a relevant meaningful way that connects with them. And whether we last two years or twenty – the bottom line is clear – we are called to share the good news.
And speaking of good news, I’m starting another series of stories entitled just that, “The Good News!” These will be stories of individuals who have met Jesus through the ministry of one of our churches.
Ok, done with scattered random thoughts for the moment. Carry on.
Click here to read the Ellice FMC article written by David Panton and Joyce and Carl Delamarter. in February’s issue of First Methodist’s Upwords.