Church Planting During a Pandemic
I’ve stayed in pretty good touch with other “church plant catalyzers” across Canada over the past six weeks. These are people who come alongside church planters.
Since March 15, I don’t think I’ve heard any stories like the one from Elmira ON, where Darcy and Liz Dueck and a group of about 35 adults (and 15 kids) have actually “launched” a new church – in the time of covid. It isn’t that Citizens (https://www.citizenselmira.ca/ – sponsored by Woodside Bible Fellowship also in Elmira), decided to pursue this initiative starting in January 2020. The Woodside elders and Darcy have been actively praying and deciding about and then pursuing church planting, for about two years. The planting team came together over the fall, and decisions about how and when and where were gradually made. Vision’s Matt Pamplin and Mark and Petra Anderson joined from a distance, in various coaching roles. The Vision Advisory Council came up with some money – to add to Woodside’s major financial commitment.
Then came the pandemic, which led to almost all church planting projects slowing to a crawl (and some screeching to a halt).
But the Citizens team and the Woodside leaders, felt like God was still pushing them to launch this spring. And because Darcy and friends had organized themselves around an idea of Missional Families – smaller well-connected groups with an outward focus – it seemed like those relationships could use the social distancing time to get to know each other better – and get on with imagining ways to care for and bring good news to their friends and neighbours. And why not start that study in the Book of Acts, that was to fill this first summer of Citizens? Etcetera.
The focus for Citizens isn’t supposed to be a massive Sunday event (though Citizens will have a Sunday gathering once they’re allowed to). But that hasn’t stopped these folks from starting a new church, and getting a head start on moving outward, in the time of covid.