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Winter 2024

The New NORM: A COVID-19 Postmortem

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<strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

CATCH THE VISION OF FAIR<br />

A WORD FROM THE LOCAL CHURCH: FELLOWSHIP<br />

PASTORS REFLECT ON LESSONS LEARNED<br />

IS IT TIME TO SHUT DOWN THE LIVESTREAM?<br />

THE NEW<br />

NORM:<br />

A COVID-19 POSTMORTEM


<strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

THE<br />

NEW<br />

NORMAL?<br />

by Steve Jones<br />

THE FIRST WORD<br />

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were asking ourselves how the Church should behave while experiencing<br />

a world-wide crisis. In one article, I asked: what would Jesus do? Or Luther or Paul? Pandemics are not new to humanity,<br />

nor to the Church. Historian Vivian Nutton wrote that between the 14th and 18th centuries “a town would experience<br />

an epidemic or plague approximately every decade and a serious devastation once in a generation.” We experienced a<br />

generational event. Has it also caused a societal shift? Or, even closer to home, has it caused a cultural shift in how we do<br />

Church?<br />

WE ARE NOW TWO YEARS PAST LOCKDOWNS, RESTRICTIONS, AND FEAR OF AN<br />

UNKNOWN VIRUS. ARE LOCAL CHURCHES BACK TO NORMAL, OR IS THERE A NEW<br />

NORMAL?


thrive-magazine.ca<br />

thrive / 3<br />

A few years ago, we discussed how we should behave during COVID-19. In this<br />

edition of Thrive, we investigate how the local church has settled post-pandemic.<br />

Are there any changes? If so, are they temporary or permanent? How are<br />

worship service attendance, offerings, volunteer numbers? Has the intensity<br />

of internal conflict within our churches decreased or disappeared? What sorts<br />

of hybrid worship forms and expressions are here to stay? A recent Hartford<br />

Institute Religion Research Study funded by the Lilly Endowment discovered<br />

75% of churches in the USA offered both in-person and virtual worship services<br />

in these post-pandemic days. The same study reported that churches who had<br />

a greater virtual presence saw their offerings increase dramatically by 150%. Is<br />

that happening in our Fellowship churches?<br />

HOW ARE WE ENCOURAGING ENGAGEMENT<br />

BETWEEN CHURCH MEMBERS? HOW DO<br />

WE ENGAGE VIRTUAL ATTENDERS BEFORE,<br />

DURING, AND AFTER WORSHIP GATHERINGS?<br />

IS COMMUNITY GOING TO SUFFER OVER TIME?<br />

WILL VIRTUAL WORSHIP SERVICES BECOME<br />

AN INCREMENTAL STEP FOR CHURCHES TO<br />

BECOME PASSIVELY DE-CHURCHED AND<br />

ULTIMATELY UN-CHURCHED?<br />

These are but a few of many questions we should be asking. We’ll seek to identify<br />

answers and possibly discover some of the trends in this edition of Thrive,<br />

“The New Norm: A COVID-19 Postmortem”.<br />

Steven Jones<br />

is President of<br />

The Fellowship<br />

of Evangelical<br />

Baptist Churches<br />

in Canada. Follow<br />

Steve on Twitter @<br />

FellowshipSteve.


4 / thrive <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

THE FELLOWSHIP’S THEME VERSE FOR <strong>2024</strong> IS:<br />

“LET US SHOW THE TRUTH BY OUR ACTIONS.”<br />

1 JOHN 3:18B (NLT)<br />

11 JOURNEY WITH A CHILD<br />

You can connect with us on FACEBOOK:<br />

www.facebook.com/thefellowshipca,<br />

on INSTAGRAM: @thefellowshipca,<br />

and on TWITTER: @thefellowshipca.<br />

Come and join the conversation.<br />

2 THE FIRST WORD<br />

THE NEW NORMAL / Steve Jones<br />

5 FOUNDATION<br />

POST-COVID-19: ARE YOUR AFFAIRS IN<br />

ORDER? / Gord Baptist<br />

6 OUT THERE<br />

COVID-19 AND THE MISSION FIELD: WHAT<br />

CHANGED? / Ben Porter<br />

10 LOVE EXTENDED<br />

FAREWELL FROM DAN SHURR<br />

WEATHERING THE STORM APPEAL: UPDATE / Sunny Lee<br />

INTRODUCING NORTON LAGES: THE<br />

FELLOWSHIP’S NEXT FAIR DIRECTOR!<br />

CATCH THE VISION OF FAIR / Denise Wicks<br />

12 GROUND WORK<br />

HOW THE PANDEMIC AFFECTED EVANGELISM AND CHURCH<br />

PLANTING PROJECTS IN QUÉBEC / Hugo Éthier<br />

DID COVID-19 CHANGE CHAPLAINCY? / Larry Freeman<br />

14 UP TO SPEED<br />

PANDEMIC LESSONS FROM COAST TO COAST: REGIONAL<br />

UPDATES<br />

A WORD FROM THE LOCAL CHURCH: FELLOWSHIP PASTORS<br />

REFLECT ON LESSONS LEARNED<br />

20 TRUTH TALK<br />

SEMINARIES POST-PANDEMIC: WHAT HAS CHANGED?<br />

22 THE LAST WORD<br />

IS IT TIME TO SHUT DOWN THE LIVESTREAM? / Paul Carter<br />

MISSION STATEMENT: Thrive is the official magazine of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada. It is published to enhance the life and ministry of church leaders and<br />

members in Fellowship congregations by providing articles, resources, and news that reflect evangelical values, a common mission, and a shared sense of identity and vision. Thrive is published<br />

three times per year and is available in English and French.<br />

© The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada<br />

MINISTRY CENTRE: P.O. Box 457, Guelph ON N1H 6K9<br />

T: 519-821-4830 F: 519-821-9829<br />

EMAIL: president@fellowship.ca<br />

thrive-magazine.ca<br />

SENIOR EDITOR: Steven Jones MANAGING EDITOR: Valerie Heaton<br />

COPY EDITOR: Jesskah McCartney LAYOUT & DESIGN: Ampersand<br />

EMAIL: thrive@fellowship.ca<br />

POSTAGE: Return undeliverable Canadian address to Circulation<br />

Department, P.O. Box 457, Guelph ON N1H 6K9<br />

THE FELLOWSHIP CHILD<br />

SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM<br />

Have you heard about the Fellowship Child Sponsorship<br />

Program? Overseen by Fellowship International missionaries,<br />

children are provided with holistic care in residential and<br />

non-residential settings. Sponsorship provides love for today<br />

and hope for tomorrow within five locations across four<br />

countries: Casa Hogar (Honduras), Cedar Home (Lebanon),<br />

Clementia Life Centre (Lebanon), Joy Foundation (Dominican<br />

Republic), and Love Trust (Sri Lanka). Visit fellowship.ca/<br />

ChildSponsorship to learn more.<br />

EPIC and Onside is a Gospel-centred, Kingdom-centric organization<br />

that partners with local churches to help families<br />

thrive by fostering growth — emotionally, spiritually, physically,<br />

and relationally — while connecting churches to their<br />

communities through faith, sport, and creativity.<br />

EPIC and Onside have partnered with churches to run<br />

camps, sports leagues, PA Day camps, STEM programs, and<br />

other outreach programs for the community for the past 10<br />

years. How can EPIC and Onside support your community<br />

initiatives? Visit epicandonside.ca for more information.


foundation<br />

POST-COVID-19:<br />

ARE YOUR<br />

AFFAIRS<br />

IN ORDER?<br />

by Gord Baptist<br />

According to Stats Canada, 54,276<br />

deaths have occurred related to<br />

COVID-19. 1 According to the Angus<br />

Reid Institute, more than half of<br />

Canadians (51%) do not have a Last<br />

Will and Testament in place. 2 These<br />

numbers underscore how necessary<br />

it is to ensure that your estate<br />

planning is up-to-date. For those that<br />

don’t have a Will, consider having one drafted to avoid estate<br />

distribution conflicts such as family litigations, potential<br />

probate fees, and, of course, paying unnecessary estate taxes.<br />

For those who already have a Will, check to make sure this<br />

document is up-to-date. Do you have a valid executor and<br />

alternate executor? Have beneficiaries or your spouse passed<br />

on? Is your lawyer still in practice?<br />

If you need help drafting or updating your Will, please contact<br />

me using the information below and I’ll be glad to work with<br />

you to ensure that your Will is kept up-to-date and viable.<br />

— Gord Baptist is Fellowship Advancement Director<br />

and can be reached at 519.821.4830, ext. 244,<br />

fax: 519.821.9829, gbaptist@fellowship.ca.<br />

1<br />

Government of Canada Website, accessed on October 23, 2023: health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/current-situation.<br />

html?stat=num&measure=deaths_total&map=pt#a2.<br />

2<br />

Angus Reid Institute Website, accessed October 23, 2023: angusreid.org/canada-will-testament-intestate-dying-without-will/#:~:text=New%20data%20<br />

from%20the%20non,this%20subject%20five%20years%20ago.<br />

MAY IS “LEGACY-GIVING MONTH”<br />

Doing God’s will through your Will.<br />

As believers, we are called to recognize that everything we have belongs to God. Actually,<br />

EVERYTHING belongs to God. Deuteronomy 10:14 (NIV): “To the LORD your God belong the<br />

heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.”<br />

As good stewards, we are called to distribute this blessing in accordance with His will. We<br />

are to honour Him in our tithes and offerings, in being generous to the poor, and by taking<br />

care of our family — not only while we are alive, but also when we pass on, which can be<br />

done through Legacy Giving.<br />

Legacy Giving shows your devotion to God’s stewardship principles and blesses Kingdom<br />

ministries for years to come, teaching your children and family members about the importance<br />

of giving generously as the Lord commands. To raise awareness of the importance<br />

of Legacy Giving, we have dedicated the month of May as “Legacy Giving Month”.<br />

A 2022 Angus Reid poll discovered that only 12% of Canadians planned to<br />

leave a legacy gift to charity in their Estate. This May, you can decide to<br />

leave a legacy gift to the Fellowship Foundation, blessing the ministries<br />

you are committed to in life and death. For help with legacy giving<br />

or other Estate matters, please contact Gord Baptist, Fellowship<br />

Advancement Director at 519.821.4830, ext. 244;<br />

fax: 519.821.9829; gbaptist@fellowship.ca.<br />

FOUNDATION


<strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

COVID-19 AND<br />

THE MISSION FIELD:<br />

WHAT CHANGED?<br />

by Ben Porter<br />

OUT THERE: FELLOWSHIP INTERNATIONAL<br />

BEN PORTER,<br />

FELLOWSHIP<br />

INTERNATIONAL<br />

DIRECTOR<br />

><br />

For our missionaries who are usually<br />

running at 100 km/hour, the<br />

pandemic was probably the only thing<br />

that could bring everyone to a halt.<br />

When governments started mandating<br />

lockdowns, we encouraged our<br />

Fellowship International missionaries<br />

to take this rare chance to reset, revise,<br />

and refocus.<br />

With fields across the globe, the pandemic<br />

looked different for each of our<br />

missionaries. There was, however, one thing that was the<br />

same: our missionary family came out of the gate running<br />

once restrictions were lifted. Like a race horse bursting out<br />

onto the track, our missionaries hit the ground running,<br />

propelled by renewed strength and vision.<br />

Since the pandemic, I’m thrilled to share that our God-sized<br />

vision of multiplication through movements is no longer<br />

just a theory, but a reality. We are seeing the beginning<br />

sparks of movements as our missionaries are making disciples<br />

who make more disciples in Jesus’ name.<br />

From September 2022 to August 2023, our missionaries<br />

reported 547 Discovery Bible Studies, 399 baptisms, 429 national<br />

leaders trained, and more. And this fiscal year, we’re<br />

already on track to double some of these numbers!<br />

God is moving in extraordinary ways, and we can’t do our<br />

work without YOUR extraordinary prayer. Please join us<br />

in our newly launched Prayer Room to pray alongside our<br />

missionaries!<br />

Join the online Prayer Room<br />

to connect with Fellowship<br />

International missionaries<br />

to hear prayer and ministry<br />

updates!<br />

fellowshipinternational.engagespaces.com<br />

ROB AND KATHRYN<br />

FLEMING, FELLOWSHIP<br />

MISSIONARIES IN JAPAN<br />

The pandemic was a bit of<br />

a bore for Japanese people.<br />

Wear masks and stay two<br />

meters apart? Been there,<br />

done that. Masks have<br />

been a hay fever remedy<br />

for many years. Also, the<br />

Japanese bow from a distance, they don’t hug! Kathryn and<br />

I thought we were heading to a new city near Tokyo when<br />

we returned to Japan in September 2020, but God used the<br />

pandemic to nudge us further north to the same city where<br />

we had spent most of our 30 years in Japan.<br />

Since our return, God has given Kathryn the opportunity<br />

to begin regular Discovery Bible Studies with many non-<br />

Christian Japanese ladies in our community. Rob has established<br />

a good connection with five small Japanese churches<br />

where he preaches/teaches weekly. One highlight from<br />

Rob’s itinerant ministry post-pandemic is the husband<br />

of a Christian wife in Sakura. He came to hear a “funny”<br />

Canadian preacher talk about important things and went<br />

home with Jesus as his Saviour!<br />

DIEGO AND CLAUDIA<br />

CARDONA, FELLOWSHIP<br />

MISSIONARIES IN<br />

COLOMBIA<br />

Claudia talks by phone to<br />

María, while on her computer<br />

she reviews the list<br />

of families without food,<br />

medicine, or money to pay<br />

for their home utilities.<br />

She then talks with an elderly woman about what to do to<br />

preserve the body of her brother who has just died from<br />

COVID-19; there is no other person who can help, and no<br />

one will approach her house. Claudia is inquiring about<br />

the cleaning chemicals that this woman has in her home,<br />

to help minimize the threat to public health. This is one of


thrive-magazine.ca<br />

thrive / 7<br />

...OUR<br />

MISSIONARIES<br />

HIT THE GROUND<br />

RUNNING,<br />

PROPELLED<br />

BY RENEWED<br />

STRENGTH<br />

AND VISION.<br />

the most dramatic stories we experienced during the<br />

pandemic, but there were also stories of love and solidarity<br />

that made us cry joyful tears.<br />

Our ministry in Colombia grew during the pandemic. New<br />

believers, a revolutionary growth of small home groups, numerous<br />

resources put online, and new workers. All this taught<br />

us some lessons. First, God is faithful in caring for His people,<br />

providing, and using us to bring the Gospel to others. Second,<br />

we are much more vulnerable than we are willing to admit.<br />

Third, this can happen again, and we are better prepared now<br />

than before.<br />

INGRID AND RICARDO<br />

CASTRO, FELLOWSHIP MIS-<br />

SIONARIES IN SPAIN<br />

Before the pandemic, we were<br />

helping a group of Christians<br />

in Llerena with no access to<br />

computers and limited digital<br />

knowledge. We were able to<br />

train them in the Discovery<br />

Bible Study (DBS) format successfully.<br />

When the pandemic hit, we continued to follow the<br />

group through WhatsApp, the only application they managed<br />

quite well with their phones. When we tried to restart in-person<br />

meetings, the group seemed to have vanished, with many<br />

having moved away. As we were moving from Extremadura to<br />

Sevilla, we thought this group had died. Imagine our surprise<br />

when they restarted meeting online! The same core couple<br />

initiated the meetings from their new location, and they do so<br />

consistently every Friday. Not only has the DBS format empowered<br />

them, but the pandemic gave them the confidence to use<br />

a digital tool to follow the group and help it grow in spite of<br />

geographical barriers.<br />

KARIM AND RITA ANAYSSI, FELLOWSHIP MISSIONARIES<br />

AT CEDAR HOME IN LEBANON<br />

Since its inception in 1950, Cedar<br />

Home NEVER shut its doors until<br />

Lebanon was hit with COVID-19<br />

and the Ministry of Social Affairs<br />

required that we shut down our<br />

residential operations. Half of our<br />

girls had no family to go back to.<br />

We had to make the best decisions<br />

in a short amount of time<br />

in order to secure a safe place for<br />

each girl.<br />

There were three factors for success: the first was the amazing<br />

relationship with the families of the girls who had them. After<br />

years of consistent love, trust, and coaching, the girls who had<br />

a parent or extended family were able to go back and live with<br />

them, with all the relief needs of the household provided for<br />

by Cedar Home, along with weekly visits. The second factor<br />

for success was the church: the few girls who had no family or<br />

who, for safety reasons, couldn’t be with their families were<br />

so lovingly taken care of by families from church. The third<br />

factor was our team who maintained the same quality of work<br />

and dedication to make sure our girls continued to receive<br />

love and care.<br />

In 2020, we were allowed to re-open. The girls and team were<br />

so happy to be back, and the pandemic left us with a gift: the<br />

opportunity to start and continue the relief program for needy<br />

families.<br />

...THE PANDEMIC LEFT US WITH A GIFT: THE OPPORTUNITY<br />

TO START AND CONTINUE THE RELIEF PROGRAM FOR NEEDY FAMILIES.


love extended<br />

<strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

FAREWELL FROM DAN SHURR<br />

It has truly been a pleasure for me to serve the last 15 years in the Fellowship National Ministry<br />

Centre, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as FAIR Director since 2015. This has<br />

been a passion for me, not just a job. I sensed deeply God’s calling and gifting for this role.<br />

Seeing God at work in our world has been a special opportunity, and sharing these experiences<br />

with Fellowship churches and donors has been a highlight. I want to thank each<br />

person I have served with in the FAIR department over the years; more recently, Norman<br />

Nielsen, Denise Wicks, and Paul Hildebrand — you have enriched my life.<br />

With much gratitude,<br />

Dan Shurr, FAIR Director 2015-2023<br />

WEATHERING THE STORM<br />

APPEAL: UPDATE by Sunny Lee<br />

LOVE EXTENDED: FAIR<br />

The pandemic may feel like a distant memory, but it<br />

wasn’t too long ago that our Fellowship International<br />

missionaries had to pivot their entire ministries. It affected<br />

every part of our lives, including how we got our groceries,<br />

how we attended church, how we interacted with our family<br />

and friends, and beyond.<br />

In the Fall of 2020, FAIR responded to the pandemic with<br />

the Weathering the Storm appeal. Thanks to your generosity,<br />

we raised $160,000, doubling our initial fundraising goal!<br />

Funds were used to purchase food and household essentials<br />

and, in some cases, provide rent support for families.<br />

Your giving impacted thousands of lives through our<br />

Fellowship missionaries and their ministries: Diego and<br />

Claudia Cardona (Colombia), Karim and Rita Anayssi and<br />

Bechara and Roula Karkafi (Lebanon), Edwin and Helmi<br />

Karwur (Indonesia), Ronald Jeyaseelan (Sri Lanka), the<br />

Walls (France), stranded international students in Canada,<br />

and in the area surrounding Shikarpur Christian Hospital<br />

(Pakistan).<br />

One country that was notably impacted by the pandemic<br />

was Lebanon, where Karim and Rita Anayssi run Cedar<br />

Home, and Bechara and Roula Karkafi oversee Clementia


thrive-magazine.ca<br />

thrive / 9<br />

Life Centre. In 2020, not only was Lebanon affected by<br />

COVID-19 like the rest of the world, but they were also facing<br />

the aftermath of the Beirut explosion and a staggering influx<br />

of Syrian refugees. During this crippling darkness, your donations<br />

through FAIR’s Weathering the Storm appeal allowed<br />

our missionaries to shine Christ’s light.<br />

Roula shares, “Thanks to your support, we were able to<br />

launch the vocational training program for Syrian refugee<br />

teenagers who had to join the workforce to assist their<br />

families, preventing them from continuing their education<br />

with us!”<br />

Today, our missionaries and their ministries are thriving,<br />

having overcome the difficulties of the pandemic.<br />

Thank you for your ongoing prayer and financial<br />

support that propels us in our mission to alleviate<br />

suffering and injustice in Christ’s name.<br />

— Sunny Lee is an Administrative Assistant for<br />

Fellowship International.<br />

INTRODUCING<br />

NORTON LAGES:<br />

THE FELLOWSHIP’S<br />

NEXT FAIR DIRECTOR!<br />

We are pleased to announce<br />

that Norton Lages of Montréal,<br />

QC has accepted the call to<br />

become our next FAIR Director,<br />

commencing March 1, <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

Norton is married to Tatiana (Tati)<br />

and together they followed God’s<br />

clear call nine years ago to leave<br />

Brazil to serve God in Québec. They<br />

have been church planters (with Église 21), and Norton<br />

is cofounder of Mission Québec and is current Director of<br />

Development for AEBEQ. Norton and Tati served with World<br />

Changers International and Metamorfose, two relief ministries<br />

working in impoverished neighbourhoods in Salvador,<br />

Brazil, along with serving on the Baptist World Alliance Human<br />

Rights Advocacy Committee working in areas of freedom and<br />

justice.<br />

Norton is Brazilian by birth and a Canadian citizen. He is fluent<br />

in four languages: Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish–a<br />

tremendous asset as many FAIR projects are located in countries<br />

where these languages are predominant. He has a Master<br />

of Missiology (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, North<br />

Carolina), a Master of Business Administration (Salvador University,<br />

Salvador, Brazil), and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Communications in<br />

Marketing (Polifucs College, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil).<br />

Join us as we welcome Norton to the Fellowship National staff this<br />

March!


10 / thrive <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

CATCH<br />

THE VISION<br />

OF FAIR by<br />

Denise Wicks


thrive-magazine.ca<br />

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ON THE<br />

RECEIVING END OF THE GIFT OF<br />

MERCY AND COMPASSION? I HAVE.<br />

My son was born with a lung defect in March 2021. We spent the<br />

first week of his life in the NICU in a hospital that was a 45-minute<br />

drive from our home. During that time, we were blessed by a<br />

well-known secular charity which fed and housed us only one short<br />

block away from the hospital. The first day we arrived there, I wept and praised God for His<br />

provision in a time of great need. The organization may not have done their work in the<br />

name of Christ, but God surely used them to minister to us in those days.<br />

I often think of the care we received. It met our physical needs more completely than we<br />

could have imagined. The only thing it lacked was spiritual care. In our case, my husband<br />

and I had hope and faith in Christ, and we had our church family, who prayed with us and<br />

encouraged us every step of the way. But what about the other families? Was there anyone<br />

praying for them through the isolation of hospital visits in the midst of pandemic restrictions?<br />

Where were they placing their hope? I also think about families in countries where<br />

healthcare is difficult to access. How devastating to know that your child is fighting for<br />

their life and you can’t help them. What hope do they cling to in times of need?<br />

Life has taught me the importance of serving with both word and deed. You can’t truly meet<br />

a person’s needs without the truth and hope of the Gospel.<br />

FAIR’s mission is to alleviate human suffering and social injustice. How this plays out is<br />

different in each situation, but the core principle remains – providing holistic care through<br />

local believers. There’s no perfect formula, but when the global Church gives so that the local<br />

Church can minister in the name of Christ to the whole person, hearts become open to<br />

hearing the Gospel, and God’s Kingdom is built.<br />

This winter, FAIR’s Catch the Vision special appeal seeks to highlight four FAIR projects and<br />

raise $160,000 to help provide holistic care through Fellowship International missionaries<br />

and the local Church. Whether it’s surgical training in Madagascar, helping marginalized<br />

communities in Sri Lanka, vocational training in Pakistan, or supports for inmates in the<br />

MENA and Stan regions, each project offers both the truth of the Gospel and tangible love<br />

in action.<br />

I hope and pray you will “catch the vision” of FAIR and choose to help bring mercy and<br />

compassion to those who need it through this special appeal.<br />

— Denise Wicks is a FAIR Projects and Promotion Coordinator.<br />

PARTNERING TO END ONLINE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION<br />

OF CHILDREN IN THE PHILIPPINES<br />

International Justice Mission (IJM) has been one of FAIR’s partner organizations since 2015. Since the beginning,<br />

the partnership has been focused on supporting their work to end online sexual exploitation of<br />

children in the Philippines. Over the years, FAIR has promoted three special appeals which have raised<br />

$426,000 to help fund rescue operations and establish an aftercare and specialized foster program for survivors.<br />

There is still much work to be done, but we celebrate every young life rescued and pray for justice for<br />

perpetrators and survivors alike.


ground work<br />

<strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

HOW THE PANDEMIC AFFECTED<br />

EVANGELISM AND CHURCH PLANTING<br />

PROJECTS IN QUÉBEC<br />

by Hugo Éthier<br />

GROUND WORK: FRANCOPHONE MINISTRY<br />

Like the majority of people on our<br />

planet, evangelism and church<br />

planting projects in Québec have<br />

been affected by the recent pandemic.<br />

Looking at the various effects, we can<br />

see both rejoicing and heart-breaking<br />

examples. Among the encouraging<br />

effects, we can mention the switch to<br />

online broadcasting of worship services<br />

and preaching. During the pandemic, we heard several<br />

stories of people coming closer to the Gospel, and even<br />

being converted, thanks to going online. Churches have<br />

also had to learn to meet virtually, and what was at first<br />

bizarre became advantageous for many. Of course, we miss<br />

some of the important elements of face-to-face meetings,<br />

but we can come together more often, in greater numbers,<br />

to share and pray. The pandemic also increased worry and<br />

anxiety levels, which prompted many people to seek answers<br />

and security in the area of faith. Several testimonies<br />

were given of contacts and even conversions to Christ due<br />

to the anxiety created by the pandemic.<br />

What was less encouraging was the fact that many people,<br />

who had previously been weak in their faith, dropped out<br />

of various groups’ meetings. Considering that evangelism<br />

and church planting projects often include seekers and/<br />

or new Christians, some of them were drawn away from<br />

the faith. Many young church plants experienced financial<br />

pressure as well.<br />

What we can conclude is that the Lord Jesus is sovereign,<br />

that we have seen His good hand throughout this surprising<br />

period, and that the “final balance sheet” is generally<br />

encouraging.<br />

— Hugo Éthier is lead pastor at Renaissance Evangelical<br />

Baptist Church in Rivière-des-Prairies, Montréal, a<br />

former church planter in Riviere-du-Loup, and a former<br />

mathematics teacher. He serves as Fellowship National's<br />

Francophone Coordinator.<br />

If you’d like to learn more about evangelistic and church planting projects<br />

in Québec or to see how you can partner with us, join us for our next virtual<br />

Québec Vision Tour on March 7, <strong>2024</strong>. Contact Hugo Éthier by email at<br />

hethier@fellowship.ca or by phone at 514.799.7704.


thrive-magazine.ca thrive / 13<br />

DID COVID-19 CHANGE<br />

CHAPLAINCY? by Larry Freeman<br />

When one thinks of chaplaincy<br />

ministry, the phrase “ministry of<br />

presence” often comes to mind — being<br />

physically present in the life and lifesituations<br />

of others. The pandemic was<br />

both a challenge and a blessing to our<br />

Fellowship chaplains. Some could no longer<br />

be present physically and had to pivot<br />

to the use of technology, while others<br />

had doors of opportunity open up. Where are we now? Here are<br />

comments from three Fellowship chaplains:<br />

Mike Garabedian, lead chaplain at Toronto Pearson<br />

International Airport writes: “Our opportunities have shifted<br />

since the pandemic. We used to experience steady numbers<br />

at our ‘services’, but we have never recovered those numbers.<br />

We’re coming across many who have disconnected from their<br />

local churches. This has caused us to rethink some of our approaches.<br />

First, we’re mentoring and equipping our chaplains<br />

to minister in this context, and second, we’re offering them<br />

resources that can be applied in short timeframes. Since most<br />

of our ministry revolves around airport employees, we can be<br />

intentional in our subsequent interactions as we follow up with<br />

their progress.”<br />

Alex Krause is a military chaplain in Cold Lake, AB and he<br />

writes: “The military chaplain context changed during the<br />

pandemic because many of us were unable to do ministry of<br />

presence in a regular way. So, as with everyone else, we had to<br />

get creative and put things online. We also started doing online<br />

Sunday services. Many chaplains were busy helping military<br />

members with obtaining religious exemption from getting the<br />

COVID-19 vaccine. This was a hard time for many chaplains<br />

weighing religious belief against government mandate. For the<br />

most part, however, things have gotten back to normal for military<br />

chaplains.”<br />

The last word will go to Charlie Lyons, Legislative chaplain at<br />

Queens Park in Ontario. He writes: “Pandemic-era chaplaincy<br />

revealed a palpable two-edged sword of presence. Early on, we<br />

learned the tough lesson that more could be accomplished by<br />

meeting virtually than many of us initially thought; virtual<br />

connections played a critical role when in-person appointments<br />

were impossible. Then, as restrictions loosened and in-person<br />

engagement returned, the growing realization was that our<br />

temporary pandemic screen time was the digital understudy to<br />

the leading star role of physical proximity — a less-than-ideal yet<br />

necessary component of the holistic performance of presence.”<br />

— Larry Freeman is Fellowship Chaplaincy Coordinator.


<strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

PANDEMIC LESSONS FROM COAST<br />

TO COAST: REGIONAL UPDATES<br />

by Valerie Heaton<br />

Each of our five Fellowship Regions faced different circumstances and challenges during the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic. Below we hear from our Regional Directors about the changes their Regions<br />

underwent and the lessons learned throughout the last four years.<br />

UP TO SPEED: REGIONAL UPDATES<br />

Q: What lessons have our church leaders learned since the pandemic<br />

ended?<br />

Andrew Swanson, Acting Regional<br />

Director, Fellowship Atlantic:<br />

“Church leaders have had to learn to be<br />

flexible, and that most of our normal<br />

statistics could not help us define what<br />

success looked like during the pandemic.<br />

Mostly, they have had to learn<br />

to hope in God. They have also had to<br />

discern where to adapt ministry to our changing world and<br />

where to stand firm.”<br />

Louis Bourque, Regional Director,<br />

AEBEQ:<br />

“We saw opened doors for government<br />

and society to dialogue about why<br />

churches are important, useful, and an<br />

essential community service. The strain<br />

highlighted which church members<br />

were engaged and which were consumers.<br />

COVID-19 exhausted our leaders because none of us<br />

knew how to react, and those who were the most exhausted<br />

tended to be rigid or limited with technology.”<br />

Tom Haines, Regional Director,<br />

FEB Central:<br />

“Leaders have learned that the<br />

Church has been in greater need<br />

of renewal than we previously<br />

thought. Many realized events<br />

and strategies can’t replace zeal for<br />

the Gospel. Leaders were forced<br />

to answer the question: ‘what are the right hills to die<br />

on?’ They learned how easy it is for third-level truths<br />

to become first-level when the Church is not deeply<br />

grounded in the Great Commandment and the Great<br />

Commission.”<br />

Mark Breitkreuz, Regional<br />

Director, Fellowship Prairies<br />

“Our leaders learned that it’s possible<br />

to have different ‘sides’ of an<br />

issue and not have to see the other<br />

side as sinful or ungodly. It can<br />

simply be a different perspective,<br />

or a different scenario that shapes the best response in a<br />

particular church’s context.”


thrive-magazine.ca<br />

thrive / 15<br />

David Horita, Regional Director,<br />

Fellowship Pacific<br />

“There are very differing opinions<br />

amongst church adherents about many<br />

important matters. We don’t all just ‘get<br />

along’. Many seem to equate their faith<br />

with freedom and rights, seeing any infringement<br />

on the part of governments as<br />

an affront to their faith.”<br />

Q: Have our priorities, ministries, or gathering spaces changed<br />

post-pandemic?<br />

Andrew: “Many of our churches have done a good job of<br />

thinking through how to better minister to our communities.<br />

We have also leaned into shared ministry between churches.<br />

Fellowship Atlantic has increasingly found that we are stronger<br />

together than we are apart.”<br />

Louis: “They developed greater intentionality and creativity<br />

in taking care of those who are isolated, sick, lonely, elderly, or<br />

unfamiliar with technology and unable to attend in person. The<br />

polarization that arose challenged our churches to remain loving<br />

and united.”<br />

“THE POLARIZATION THAT AROSE<br />

CHALLENGED OUR CHURCHES TO<br />

REMAIN LOVING AND UNITED.”<br />

Tom: “It forced them to evaluate outreach, discipleship, and<br />

worship — are we doing these effectively?”<br />

Mark: “Some have prioritized small groups more than before.<br />

Online ministry has developed and has been maintained.<br />

Gathering spaces have stayed for the most part, but leaders are<br />

more open to looking to options in the future.”<br />

David: “Ministries gradually changed back to ‘normal’ postpandemic,<br />

but we are seeing more and more interest in online<br />

church in larger churches as well as satellite churches/<br />

campuses.”<br />

Q: What have we learned about remote ministry and live streaming<br />

over the past two years, since the lockdown and restrictions were<br />

lifted? Is remote ministry here to stay? Why or why not?<br />

Andrew: “Many pastors and church leaders have expressed that<br />

they are encouraged by the ministry streaming allows them to<br />

have in their communities, but are also concerned about the<br />

number of people who think that remote ministry is of equal<br />

value as gathering in person with other believers.”<br />

Louis: “It helped us understand the importance of having online<br />

resources for the younger generation, since many will visit<br />

a church online before visiting it in person. The experience led<br />

many churches to keep an online presence in order to remain<br />

connected with our culture.”<br />

Tom: “The pandemic helped clarify the use of technology.<br />

Leaders learned not to give everything away remotely. Offer<br />

something, but also recognize that there should be more in person.<br />

Tech should be a connection point to be built on. Online<br />

services were a good touchpoint, but in-person gatherings are<br />

necessary for the ongoing health of the local church.”<br />

Mark: “I believe it is here to stay. Churches have seen it as a<br />

great outreach for non-Christians. Being able to access services<br />

online also made it easier to send to someone you feel would<br />

connect with it, or for those who can’t attend a particular<br />

Sunday to enjoy the service later.”<br />

David: “A certain (small) percentage of people/families prefer<br />

online ongoing — enough to keep it going, but not enough to<br />

see it ever rival live services.”<br />

Q: What did we learn about the Church’s relationship with government<br />

throughout and after lockdowns?<br />

Andrew: “We learned that it is always time to pray for those in<br />

authority and that we should have a heart of submission to God<br />

and those He has placed in leadership over us. We also acknowledge<br />

that we are sometimes confused about how to best live as<br />

neighbours in communities and as servants of Jesus Christ.”<br />

Louis: “COVID-19 forced a positive dialog between churches<br />

and government, either through MPs or through organizations<br />

that represent churches before the government, which has<br />

lasted — that’s a first for Québec!”<br />

Tom: “The post-Christian culture came clearly into view. We<br />

do not live in a Christian nation any longer, if we ever did. The<br />

Church is not a political entity.<br />

Leaders learned that they may<br />

have been putting too much confidence<br />

in government.”<br />

Mark: “Some relationships between<br />

church and government<br />

are good, and some are not. Some<br />

people within both groups are<br />

easier/harder to love. The simplicity<br />

of ‘love God, love others’ was<br />

helpful during times that we just<br />

lived through; that had incredible<br />

complexity built into it.”<br />

David: “Government doesn’t have<br />

to be seen as an enemy. They take<br />

the ministry community seriously<br />

and are interested in our<br />

feedback, but they cannot/do not<br />

THE SIMPLICITY<br />

OF ‘LOVE GOD,<br />

LOVE OTHERS’<br />

WAS HELPFUL<br />

DURING TIMES<br />

THAT WE JUST<br />

LIVED THROUGH;<br />

THAT HAD<br />

INCREDIBLE<br />

COMPLEXITY<br />

BUILT INTO IT.<br />

differentiate between faith groups. They see denominational offices<br />

as ‘representative’ voices of their congregations and expect<br />

them to provide feedback on behalf of their churches, which<br />

some churches do not appreciate. Pastors value being brought<br />

together, even if online, to share what’s going on in their local<br />

contexts and to see/hear how others are facing similar issues.”


16 / thrive <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

A WORD FROM<br />

THE LOCAL CHURCH:<br />

FELLOWSHIP PASTORS REFLEC


thrive-magazine.ca<br />

thrive / 17<br />

T ON LESSONS LEARNED<br />

The Fellowship is a collection of over 500 local churches, each with unique cultures<br />

and community. The challenges faced by churches in Nova Scotia were different<br />

from those experienced by churches in British Columbia, and the lessons each congregation<br />

learned reflect this. Below we’ve gathered testimonials from Fellowship<br />

pastors and church staff across Canada sharing what their churches encountered<br />

throughout COVID-19 and beyond.<br />

Colin McMahon, Associate Pastor, Parker’s Cove Baptist Church, Granville<br />

Ferry, NS:<br />

“Due to the lack of decent internet access here, we never had the opportunity<br />

to engage in livestreaming. We would pre-record services and post<br />

them (oftentimes an upload would take 12-14 hours for a single service).<br />

We quickly realized that the effort that went into this was well worth it as<br />

those who were unable to attend church for various reasons, even postpandemic,<br />

were still able to be ministered to.”<br />

Derik Fuller, Co-Lead Pastor, Forward Church, Cambridge, ON:<br />

“We learned that the tools that allow us to do ministry online are incredible<br />

blessings that we shouldn’t throw away but instead should figure out<br />

how to best leverage for the sake of making disciples. Our online presence<br />

is the front door for people who are looking to engage with us in person.<br />

Our online services allow people to invite someone to check out a service<br />

without them having to worry that they are going to be trapped for 60 – 90<br />

minutes.<br />

“Online ministry also lets us better minister to people we have neglected in the past like shutins,<br />

parents who are stuck at home with sick kids, people who have to work on Sunday, or<br />

missionaries in the field. Whether we like it or not, our people, especially those under 40, live<br />

their lives online and in-person. To vacate the digital world is to leave where the next generation<br />

is living. If we’re serious about reaching and discipling people, we should be figuring out<br />

how to better engage them in the spaces they live — not just on Sunday, but Monday through<br />

Saturday.”<br />

Jennifer Alder, Music Director, Main Street Baptist Church, Sackville, NB:<br />

“We had to evaluate how government commands lined up with God’s<br />

commands — for the first time. Most churches were able to successfully<br />

navigate continuing with ministry while honouring the government.<br />

There were times when we felt our government was not recognizing the<br />

importance of the church’s role in the spiritual health of our communities,<br />

and were able to push back by writing to our government representatives<br />

as opposed to just breaking laws. Just how much control the government<br />

had of our gathering and movement is disconcerting; I’m thankful that we don’t live in a country<br />

where that kind of oversight is a normal part of life. I pray we don’t end up back in that type<br />

of situation again.”


18 / thrive <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

Hugo Éthier, Pastor, Église Baptiste<br />

Évangélique de Rivière-des-Prairies,<br />

Montréal, QC:<br />

“In talking with several church leaders in<br />

Québec, I’ve found that we live in a country<br />

with a lot of individual freedoms, and if<br />

government wants to restrict our individual<br />

rights and freedoms we are reactive. Many<br />

of our churches experienced internal tensions, either at the leadership<br />

level or with members in general. Most churches found<br />

themselves somewhere between compliance and rebellion. At<br />

the theological level, we have been pushed to reflect on the Holy<br />

Scriptures and past experiences in the history of the Church to<br />

try to find the best response in the face of extraordinary governmental<br />

demands.”<br />

Pierre Tang, Senior Pastor, North York<br />

Chinese Baptist Church, Toronto, ON<br />

“Our church has three language congregations:<br />

Cantonese (Hong Kong), Mandarin<br />

(Mainland and Taiwan), and English (second<br />

and third generation). It was challenging<br />

for our leadership to maintain unity<br />

throughout the pandemic. Both Cantonese<br />

and Mandarin church members were hesitant to resume<br />

in-person meetings. As of today, we still have about 40% of<br />

Cantonese and Mandarin congregants joining the online<br />

Sunday services. Our pastoral theology is to observe communion<br />

in person, not online, which upset some. We also decided<br />

not to post worship/sermon recordings after the services.<br />

In the end, we chose to uphold the value of church life!”<br />

prolonged isolation coupled with immersion in digital media<br />

have significantly affected children and adults. So, apart from<br />

being ready to counsel, we’ve oriented our ministries around<br />

rebuilding community and strengthening relationships that<br />

have frayed over the last two years. As we’ve been intentional<br />

about deepening our love for one another, the Lord has been<br />

opening opportunities to give the Gospel to people around us.”<br />

Matt Rudd, Lead Pastor, Calvary Baptist<br />

Church, Ottawa, ON:<br />

“For our church, they’re here to stay,<br />

though perhaps in a more marginal manner<br />

than some might have imagined.<br />

We have used livestreams for outreach,<br />

blasting out videos into our community.<br />

Our small groups and board meetings are<br />

often now using hybrid formats to include people who would<br />

have been absent otherwise.<br />

“We’re both grateful for the blessings of virtual ministry and<br />

aware of its limitations. A ‘like’ or an emoji or even a ‘Good<br />

Steve Hiltz, Senior Pastor, Faith<br />

Baptist Church, NS:<br />

“We have realized afresh the<br />

value of fellowship and the great<br />

importance of building and<br />

maintaining relationships over<br />

being programmed to death, or<br />

for the sake of simply ‘running<br />

the machine’ of programs and busyness. It has<br />

made us reevaluate the root purpose of everything<br />

we do and do not do as a local church.”<br />

RJ Umandap, Lead Pastor,<br />

Crestwicke Baptist<br />

Church, Guelph, ON:<br />

“At Crestwicke, we’ve<br />

deliberately slowed<br />

down our postpandemic<br />

ministry<br />

efforts. Our leadership<br />

has been careful to allow our key<br />

ministry leaders and members ample<br />

time for rest. We also recognize that


thrive-magazine.ca<br />

thrive / 19<br />

morning!’ online is no substitute for a real smile, hug, greeting,<br />

or welcome. Singing with many voices is much more edifying<br />

to the soul than singing along with a video. Hearing the<br />

Word of God face-to-face is far superior to having the message<br />

mediated through a screen. Partaking of the physical elements<br />

of the Lord’s Supper when we come together seems to be how<br />

God intended it to happen. And the ability to pull someone<br />

aside for a conversation or to pray with them just isn't the<br />

same online.”<br />

Paul Park, Lead Pastor, South Delta Baptist<br />

Church, Delta, BC<br />

“The pandemic revealed the lack of<br />

meaningful community in our society.<br />

Despite having thousands of followers<br />

on Instagram, many people lack genuine<br />

community to which they belong. People<br />

in Vancouver frequently express that our<br />

city is a lonely city. Coming out of the pandemic, we learned<br />

that we, as a church, could offer the world a radically hospitable<br />

and meaningfully connected community that is centred<br />

around Jesus Christ—the most hospitable host that invites us<br />

to dine with Him at His royal table. Please go and read 2 Samuel<br />

9:11 and you’ll find a beautiful picture of God’s hospitality: ‘So<br />

Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons.’<br />

How can we invite our community to dine at God’s table as His<br />

children?”<br />

Nathan Klahsen, Lead Pastor, Knollwood<br />

Baptist Church, London, ON<br />

“Our priorities shifted to starting small<br />

groups in order to help our members care<br />

for one another. Much of our church<br />

shifted to online tools, such as financial<br />

giving and a church app to help keep our<br />

people connected and in the loop. Our gathering space changed<br />

as we renovated during the pandemic, allowing us to update<br />

our technology to allow for online streaming and needed cosmetic<br />

changes. We’ve also shifted to a plurality of elders model<br />

to help care for our congregation.”<br />

WE ALSO<br />

RECOGNIZE THAT<br />

PROLONGED<br />

ISOLATION<br />

COUPLED WITH<br />

IMMERSION<br />

IN DIGITAL<br />

MEDIA HAVE<br />

SIGNIFICANTLY<br />

AFFECTED<br />

CHILDREN AND<br />

ADULTS.


truth talk<br />

<strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

SEMINARIES<br />

POST-PANDEMIC:<br />

WHAT HAS<br />

CHANGED?<br />

Just as many aspects of our daily lives were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bible Colleges and<br />

Seminaries within our Fellowship had to change and adapt in order for students to continue their studies<br />

both during the time of restrictions and after. Below we read how these necessary changes affected life for<br />

students and staff at Northwest Seminary and College in Langley, BC, and Heritage College & Seminary in<br />

Cambridge, ON.<br />

TRUTH TALK: THEOLOGY AND TRENDS<br />

BARTON PRIEBE, PRESIDENT,<br />

NORTHWEST SEMINARY AND<br />

COLLEGE<br />

Prior to the pandemic, Northwest conducted<br />

research in our constituency<br />

(with students, alumni, ministry leaders,<br />

and mentors) that showed an overwhelming<br />

need for us to offer resources<br />

in and beyond our credentialed programs to help ministry<br />

leaders cultivate mental health in their own lives and the<br />

lives of the people they are caring for, serving, and leading.<br />

The pandemic confirmed this research and motivated us to<br />

shape the way we approach the pastoral care aspects of the<br />

curriculum and life-long learning resources we design to<br />

prepare ministry leaders for their vital work in and beyond<br />

the local church. In response, we also created a new position<br />

for Student Support, and were more proactive in prayer,<br />

reaching out to students, and accommodating student needs.<br />

Finally, we connected with Christian charities that excel in<br />

these areas and are actively seeking ways to partner with<br />

them to meet this significant need in our faith communities.<br />

Our Competency Based Theological Education (CBTE) model<br />

was already fully distance-based prior to the pandemic,<br />

except for instructional seminars, which made it easier<br />

to move to fully online seminars once restrictions hit.<br />

Our recent building expansion included the design of a<br />

classroom outfitted with high-end technology for video,<br />

sound, and lighting. Students reported a much better<br />

online experience than through regular Zoom calls.<br />

Likewise, our research and investment in an innovative<br />

learning management system has really helped us<br />

provide an engaging learning experience for our many<br />

students who complete their coursework while they are<br />

embedded in their ministry contexts.<br />

Since embracing our CBTE model, the school building<br />

is no longer the hub of social or community life because<br />

students are immersed in their local community<br />

contexts. Alongside their ministry relationships, we<br />

provide planned gatherings like fall and spring retreats,<br />

online meetings, short intensive life-long learning opportunities,<br />

and discussion groups. One of the challenges<br />

of the post-pandemic world is that people want<br />

community, but can feel like it is too much given everything<br />

else they carry in their daily lives. We are seeking<br />

to learn what works practically for our students so that<br />

community is a joy and not a burden.


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thrive / 21<br />

RICK REED, CHANCELLOR, HERITAGE<br />

COLLEGE & SEMINARY<br />

The impact of the pandemic was felt in all sectors<br />

of society—including educational institutions<br />

like Heritage College & Seminary.<br />

From my perspective, the impact was more<br />

pronounced in our college than our seminary.<br />

Campus life for our college students, many of<br />

whom live in residence halls, was disrupted as we followed provincial<br />

health requirements related to social distancing and reduced limits<br />

for gatherings. Our Heritage Student Services Team worked hard to<br />

help those struggling with mental health issues related to pandemic<br />

realities. We were extremely grateful for the resilient response from<br />

college students who adapted to the challenges and made the best of a<br />

difficult situation. God’s grace was evident and ample.<br />

Since all our seminary students live off campus, the impact of<br />

COVID-19 was reduced for seminarians. We were already set up to<br />

livestream classes, which allowed learning to continue<br />

without interruption. I was impressed with the way our<br />

IT team assisted professors in making sure classes went<br />

smoothly. We also continued to upgrade our classroom<br />

technology which has enhanced the quality of the seminary<br />

experience for those who join classes online.<br />

We continue to develop our capacity to deliver excellent<br />

online courses while also emphasizing the value of having<br />

seminary students take courses on campus. Currently, we<br />

are constructing a new home for the seminary that will<br />

allow us to provide top-quality training for both students<br />

who come to campus and those who join online.<br />

Our mission at Heritage is to serve the Church by helping<br />

students major in the Word of God so they can help<br />

churches make a world of difference. We are grateful to be<br />

partners with the Fellowship in the vital work it does in<br />

Canada and around the world.<br />

A GLORIOUS FELLOWSHIP OF CHURCHES<br />

Explore the rich heritage of The Fellowship in the newly revised and updated edition of A Glorious Fellowship<br />

of Churches: The History of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, 1953-2023.<br />

To purchase your copy today, call the Fellowship office at 519.821.4830. Cost is $30 + shipping.


<strong>Winter</strong> 2023<br />

IS IT TIME TO SHUT DOWN<br />

THE LIVESTREAM? by Paul Carter<br />

THE LAST WORD<br />

The loss of large-group worship<br />

gatherings over the course of the<br />

recent pandemic was undoubtedly a<br />

hardship for the Church, but in the<br />

Providence of God, it may have been<br />

the catalyst for the development of<br />

some much-needed tools and resources.<br />

Almost every church in Canada<br />

figured out how to record and broadcast<br />

services, but now that the pandemic is over, the question<br />

remains: what should we do with these new capacities?<br />

Many churches that were having a hard time regathering<br />

their people after the pandemic made the decision to<br />

restrict access to their livestream. If people were sick or<br />

traveling, they could request a password, but otherwise, the<br />

service would remain unavailable to the general public.<br />

I certainly sympathize with those concerns, but I wonder<br />

if a more direct, pastoral approach could solve the problem<br />

without sacrificing the benefit of keeping our services<br />

online. Almost everyone’s first visit to a church now,<br />

post-pandemic, is online. If we aren’t online, we don’t exist<br />

for most people under 30. If we want to reach younger<br />

Canadians with the Gospel, we need to maintain our presence<br />

on the internet — not as a substitute for physical presence,<br />

but as an on-ramp.<br />

Streaming our services can also be a blessing to people living<br />

in remote communities. It can be used as an outreach<br />

tool by our members attempting to evangelize their friends<br />

and neighbours.<br />

Will this technology have to be managed? Absolutely. But<br />

properly used and strategically leveraged, this new capacity<br />

can be a net gain for the Great Commission moving<br />

forward.<br />

O God, help!<br />

— Paul Carter is Lead Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist<br />

Church in Orillia, ON, and the host of the Into the Word<br />

podcast.


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Car & Home Insurance Program.<br />

To receive a FREE no obligation quote on your CAR and HOME or TENANT<br />

Insurance through our partnership, please get in touch with one of our<br />

friendly customer service advisors.<br />

Find the right insurance for you:<br />

CAR<br />

HOME<br />

SMALL BUSINESS<br />

COMMERICAL<br />

1-855-633-1964<br />

www.deeksinsurance.ca<br />

Servicing the Evangelical<br />

Community in Canada since 1981.<br />

D.L. Deeks Insurance Services Inc. (“Deeks Insurance”) is a licensed insurance intermediary. Auto and home insurance policies are primarily underwritten, and claims handled, by Unifund<br />

Assurance Company (“Unifund”). Described coverage and benefits applicable only to policies underwritten by Unifund. Auto insurance not available in BC, MB or SK. Home and auto<br />

insurance not available in QC, NWT, NU, or YK. Deeks Insurance and Unifund share common ownership. D.L Deeks & Design is a registered trademark of Deeks Insurance.

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