I remember that the last time I spoke to you I mentioned the 4 step plan we have for our church building:
Step # 1. Renovate the façade, replace the doors, repave the front, paint window casings etc. So far we haven't found any financial institution to lend us the money to do this. We're still looking for ways to raise the 100k$ to do this work.
Step # 2. Expand the basement and add classrooms, larger fellowship hall, storage etc.
Step # 3. Expand auditorium to accommodate approximately 200 - 250 people.
Step # 4. Expand 2nd floor for offices and storage, meeting room.
Now the reasoning behind this plan is that in solid church growth and expansion a congregation must first be full to capacity before planting another church. We have not reached our full potential here in Verdun. We still have room to grow on our property and can eventually accommodate a congregation that has 150 - 200 members (we now have approximately 70). Once we have reached this maximum (150-200) we can take 10% of our members and plant another church without hurting the health and growth of our own. So our building plans are objectives that serve our eventual target of planting other churches - this is what New Testament churches do.
Ok, so this is the plan for the building and the thinking and motivation behind the plan. Today I'd like to share with you the goals that the church, which meets inside the building, should have.
Goal For The Church
You see, if all we have is a plan for the building then we have things backwards. Jesus said,
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
- Mt. 6:33
As Christians our priorities should be spiritual in nature, not physical. If we invest our energies in pursing "spiritual things" (kingdom of God / righteousness) then God, who knows what we need, will automatically provide the physical things.What physical things? Well, Jesus mentions these before:
- Your life
- Your food / drink
- Your clothing / homes
Now Jesus mentions these basics to represent all of the things we need in life to be satisfied. I believe that the same principle works for the church as well. God knows what we need. If we search for spiritual things, He will provide the physical things we need to grow and develop as a congregation, and that includes what we need to fulfill our potential with this property before going on to plant other churches. So, we know what to do with our building and how to expand and get the most out of it, now we need to clarify what our spiritual goals need to be as a church.
Preach The Gospel
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
- Matthew 28:18-20
The instruction Jesus gives the church is not to build church buildings but rather to preach the gospel. If we preach the gospel, He'll provide everything we need to build this or any other building we need. We need to refocus our resources and energies on preaching the gospel to our community here in Verdun, Ville-Émard, Cote St Paul, and surrounding areas.
We must renew our efforts with mail-outs, campaigns, ads, personal evangelism, and whatever else we have to proclaim the gospel of Christ to this world. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), not buildings, or programs, or protest. Preaching the gospel is the church's #1 spiritual goal and everything else serves this goal.
Personal Spiritual Maturity
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
- Ephesians 4:11-13
As a group, or a congregation our main goal is to reach out, to evangelize, proclaim the gospel. As individuals however, our personal goal is to help one another become more mature spiritually. Each person here needs to be responsible for their own growth and consciously pursuing it.
For example, If we go to the gym to lose weight or get into shape, we can measure our progress from week to week. In the church, each person needs to be in the spiritual gym trying for different spiritual goals and growth.
Also if one man is working on being a better Christian husband and father. A teen is working on growing in Bible knowledge. Someone else is searching to be more faithful, or learning to serve or give more. Still for others spiritual growth is a decision and an effort to overcome a particular sin, weakness, or bad habit.
The point is that everyone is consciously working on something and helping others achieve their goals.
You can't grow spiritually if you don't have spiritual goals, and you can't have goals if you don't examine yourself and see what needs improvement in your Christian life!
Goal #1 - Focus on Evangelism
Goal #2 - Work on Personal Maturity
Remaining faithful to God in two particular ways.
1. Personally remaining faithful as a Christian
...but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
- Matthew 10:22
Jesus tells His disciples that it won't be easy, there will be many obstacles, temptations, distractions, people and things pulling you away from believing and following Him -- but only those who remain faithful to Him until the end will be saved. For this reason (because it won't be easy) we need to make remaining faithful to Christ a "conscious" goal. What good will our life of fun or wealth or adventure be if we lose our souls in the process?
2. We also need to remain faithful as a New Testament church.
On December 4th we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary as a congregation of the Church of Christ in Montreal. This means that for 20 years this Church has remained faithful to the teachings of the New Testament in regards to its practice of Christianity. While other congregation may have veered off to the right into legalism or the left into liberalism, or closed their doors altogether, the Verdun congregation has tried to stay on the main path. Roger and I began here together and our goal is that long after we're gone, there will be a New Testament church that meets here to:
- Worship God in Christ
- Encourage each other in Christian love.
- Preach the gospel to Montreal
- Pursue personal and congregation spiritual growth
And all of this done according to the teachings in the New Testament - Nothing more, or less.
I believe that in general the people of Quebec have rejected God and have no use for His word. I also believe that the Bible teaches that when this happens God allows people to follow their evil intentions - Romans 1:28.
For this reason Montreal is fast becoming one of the most immoral places in Canada. I'm not a prophet but my opinion is that it probably will not get any better soon - probably worse. The Roman Catholic Church was once the Spiritual teacher and guide to Quebec but it has fallen and is no longer relevant. Even if the Roman Catholic Church is weak today, we are 1000 times weaker and smaller than they are.
Our task however is not small. We are not large or strong enough to lead, or teach, or guide the province or even this city. But this is not our task. Our task is to provide a point of light.
Now one point of light doesn't make much difference when there is a lot of light.
- But the darker it gets, the more important even one point of light becomes.
- And in complete darkness, one point of light becomes indispensable.
This is who we are - this one little light - and as our society grows darker and darker our little light will become more and more necessary for those searching. I don't know, this may be the reason so many of our members are those who come from very dark places - they recognize the light when they see it.
We must therefore preserve our small light until Jesus comes - I believe this is the particular mission He has given us here at Verdun. And we will persevere in this mission as we:
- Proclaim and explain the gospel to the people of our community.
- Continue our progress in spiritual maturity so we can shine the light of Christ in our lives.
- Remain faithful as individuals to Christ and to His Word as a New Testament church.
My most precious prayer for my family is that when the Lord returns I pray that there will still be some in my family faithful to Him alive at that point. Today I repeat this prayer but for this Church. I pray that there will still be members of this church faithful to Him and alive to see His coming. God bless you as you pursue these spiritual goals.