I Am, You Are: A Call to Worship

I have mentioned a number of times that one key element of worship at Grace Fellowship Church is the Call to Worship. This call sometimes involves reading a passage of scripture, but other times combines several texts into a responsive or back-and-forth format. Here’s an example that might bless you this morning as you prepare to worship. It contrasts who we are with who God is and, in that way, reminds us that God alone is worthy of our worship. …

Solemnity and Celebration, Exclusivity and Inclusivity

The Lord’s Supper is an occasion that is both solemn and celebratory. In the Lord’s Supper we remember the suffering and death of the innocent Son of God and we confess that it was our sin that made it necessary. In the Lord’s Supper we rejoice that God made a way for us to be saved and we proclaim with confidence that Christ is alive and will come again. In these ways we express, in turn, both sorrow and joy, …

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The Local Church Was Made To Serve The Christian, Not The Christian The Local Church

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. Sabbath is a gift God has given us for our good. We are feeble creatures who need rest, yet foolish creatures who would otherwise work ourselves to the bone. The sabbath is a reminder of our weakness, of our finiteness, of our inability. It is a reminder of all of these in a physical sense and, more ultimately, in a spiritual sense, for so much of what is true …

Learning To Thrive as a Diverse Church

Toronto is the most diverse city in the world which means that Toronto churches are among the most diverse churches in the world. If over fifty percent of the people who live in the city were born in a country other than Canada, which is exactly the case, then in all probability over fifty percent of the people who attend church in the city were born in a country other than Canada. It is rare that a church here does …

When Unanimity is the Enemy of Unity

It is God’s desire that there be unity between his people, and for that reason Christian unity is a prominent theme in the New Testament. Jesus prays for it in his High Priestly prayer, Luke describes it in his history of the early church, Paul demands it of the congregations he writes to, Peter appeals for it in his epistles, and John displays it in its final perfection in his vision of what is to come. As we each live …

Lessons In Becoming a Better Listener

It is one thing to hear, but another thing to listen. Good communication and healthy relationships depend upon not only on hearing the words other people say, but on carefully listening to what they mean to communicate. To listen is to love. But if we are honest, few of us are good listeners. It’s easy enough to hear others, but very difficult to truly listen to them. That may be particularly true and particularly important in the context of the …

Are Churches “A Major Source of Coronavirus Cases?”

The New York Times recently ran a column headlined “Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are a Major Source of Coronavirus Cases.” The lede is alarming: “The virus has infiltrated Sunday services, church meetings and youth camps. More than 650 cases have been linked to reopened religious facilities.” Here’s how the story begins: Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the …

A Gasp of Pain, A Sigh of Relief

The lockdowns are slowly ending and churches are tentatively re-opening. Of course most are opening during vacation season so have begun with a much-reduced schedule of programming—typically Sunday morning services and not a whole lot else. But summer will soon be past and the busy fall season will be upon us. It’s safe to assume that come August or September, most churches will hope to start up the rest of their programs—youth groups and men’s breakfasts and women’s meetings and …

The Safest Place for the Weakest People

It has been a blessing to hear from friends and family across America whose churches are beginning to meet again after the period of forced separation. It has been fascinating (though a little strange) to see photographs of the spaced-out seating, the masks, the deliberate distancing, the omnipresent bottles of hand sanitizer. While I expect it will be some time before we gain the privilege in Ontario, I look forward to the day when we, too, can once again worship …

A Pastoral Prayer

Our Father, we are so thankful that you are a God who loves. In fact, you are not just a God who loves, but a God who is love. For you, love is not merely something you do, but it is who you are. To be God is to be love, to be the very source the very fountain of love. For all eternity, you have existed in a relationship of love with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loving one …