In times of pressure, the church is tempted to lose the vision to multiply and then retreat behind her walls to survive. The current pandemic can do this, but so too can starting and sustaining any new church plant.
A church plant built to multiply
When Michael Collins started the Village Church in Thorold, Ontario in 2007, the vision to multiply was already being permanently programmed into their DNA.
“I never saw us as one church but as a movement of multiplying churches… even when there were just 12 of us in a living-room, we talked about multiplying.” Right from the beginning they set aside funds – initially as low as a $100 a month - to grow a fund to plant the next church… a fund that constantly reminded the members, “We are going to plant another church.”
In multiple ways, the Village planned to multiply. They created a discipleship plan and leadership structure that was simple to reproduce. They prayed over the rows of empty chairs of those God would soon call to join their church. They set a clear benchmark of eighty attendees as the starting point to plant again.
The Village’s vision to multiply began to spread. Classis was inspired. In 2014, Classis Niagara joined the Village and planted a new church in Niagara Falls. The Village did not stop there but helped launch a new missional expression in downtown Thorold that became a distinct church plant in 2020. Although Michael is no longer the pastor at the Village Church, the DNA of multiplication continues to bear fruit under the leadership of their new pastor.
Finally, Mike helped with launching a new movement to plant churches across Canada called the Church Planting Institute. When the church is obedient to Christ’s call to multiply the gospel, regardless of circumstance, we see through the eyes of faith that one day, “the whole earth be filled with his glory.” (Ps. 72:19)
A new church plant during a pandemic
Plant a church during a pandemic? That’s exactly what Mark Jallim did.
What started as an online Bible study from several different countries grew over the course of the pandemic and it became clear to Mark that a dream he had for church planting had already taken place. It just happened to be that his church was online. Every Sunday 35 to 45 adults and children from several different countries attend weekly services. Broadcasting from their basement where their daughter Abigail leads worship and Mark’s wife Deborah leads children’s ministry, they have seen several conversions.
As Nona Jones said in her book, From Social Media to Social Ministry, “The Internet is not just a thing people do; it’s the place people live…If the church experience continues to be limited to a physical address you visit, when today’s generation lives online, the trends (towards declining churches) will only get worse.”
Mark is a Commissioned Pastor with Hebron CRC in Whitby, Ontario and as the online Bible study continued to grow over the course of the pandemic, they realized that what they had was a church online. They launched their first service on November 27, 2020. It’s called Living Hope Community Church. Martin Spoelstra the regional leader for Resonate said, “Sometimes we have to catch up to what God is doing and that includes a lot of paperwork.”