Just after Easter (April 1st), Ken and I will embark on a new adventure. We are NOT leaving pastoral ministry, we’re just going to do it differently for a while. What follows are the words Ken shared with our church family at Faith Reformed Church in Kingsville about how God has been at work in us and the ordinary experiment in disciple-making that he’s inviting us to pursue.
“You’ll remember that two years ago, after the 60th anniversary (of Faith Reformed Church), Christina and I struggled with our call to remain in Kingsville. We determined at that time that God was dealing with our fear of the future and that we needed to stay. We also felt that we should stop looking for opportunities to go anywhere else, and be content with what we were doing here. So that’s what we did.
We didn’t know at the time what he was up to, and how he was about to go to work transforming us in the most unexpected, most undesirable, most profound way imaginable: cancer. I’m unable to realistically express to you just how difficult that was for us, except to say that every possible hope and dream we’d ever had came crashing down around us. Some people say you should fight for your life; it seemed to us that God was inviting us to embrace death. We kept coming back to this text in 2 Cor. 1:9, where after a time of persecution, Paul reflects, “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” We clung to that promise. Every day became an opportunity to rely on God in the moment, to do the work that lay before us, and to wait on him for resurrection.
But it was a long, anxious, stressful, and exhausting journey. When it was finally over in March of last year, we realized that we couldn’t imagine life after cancer anymore. We had nothing left. So we decided to seek counseling to help us put our life back together. With the help of some good friends, we were able to begin reflecting on the journey that lay behind us, and to see that cancer had been a gift of God to strip us of some unnecessary baggage, and to help us see the urgency of the gospel again. These insights transformed us, and opened a new future to us that we never would have imagined in a million years. In a word, we finally experienced the resurrection we’d been waiting for all those long months.
In the following months, we spent a great deal of time talking and praying about the new future, sharing our vision with friends and family, and seeking the counsel of trusted advisors. We have tested and proven that God is on the move, that he’s gone ahead of us and paved the way for us, and that he’s holding out his hand, beckoning us to begin a new adventure.
We believe that God is inviting us to go plant a church. We want to take the gospel to the world outside the church that has no knowledge of the love of Jesus. Life is short and precious, and the beauty and glory of Christ is so incredible that the limitations of our life are no longer enough to contain it. We need to go to the front lines of this battle, to those who are perishing in their sin. We need to lay aside our desires once more to follow Jesus into the unknown.
More specifically, we want to plant a different kind of church: one that has no paid staff and no building. Paul said once that he didn’t want to “peddle the gospel for profit,” and with the incredible success of our free counseling, we feel led to strip away all the costs of ministry for those who need Christ. The grace of God is entirely free, but it’s hard to convince those outside the church that you really care when you draw a salary from the donations of the faithful. So we’re going to plant a house church in our own living room for free.
The idea is to move into a new community, get regular jobs, build relationships, and tell people about Jesus. We’ll invite them into our house for meals, worship, Bible study, fellowship, and prayer. We’ll lead them in sharing the gospel with their friends, in serving the community, and in mission to the world. Christina will start a new free counseling ministry as part of that effort there. If it becomes an organized church, so be it, and if it remains a house church, that’s okay too. We’ll leave that to God and see what happens.
All options being equal, since there are people who don’t know the good news of the gospel everywhere, we decided that we’d like to be closer to family. So we’ve made some pre-arrangements for me to work with a local electrician in Palmerston, ON, starting at Easter. Christina plans to stay in Kingsville until the end of July to finish with her clients, and is working to prepare someone else to take over Living Water when she comes to join me.“
This ordinary experiment in church planting (AKA everyday ministry) is what we plan to share with you here on this blog. We’ve already seen God working ahead of us and we look forward to sharing stories about his work here as we continue to follow the one who has and continues to teach us to rely on him.
If you’re the praying sort, we have some requests:
- That we would finish well at Faith Reformed Church. We’re grateful for all that we’ve learned from and with the wonderful folks here, and we want to make sure that we leave no unfinished business.
- That we would trust God in this season of change, not giving way to fear or trying to control in the uncertainty – two of our particular temptations.
- That God would direct the steps of Faith Reformed Church and Living Water throughout this transition.
- That God would provide a house in Palmerston that would be appropriate for the ministry that he has in mind.
If you are interested in more information or partnering with us in this ministry we’d be happy to correspond with you personally (please be patient with us, things are a little crazy right now).
soli Deo gloria,
Ken and Christina