For Those Who Never Left
I’m done the Toronto series. Honest. Well, almost. I thought I was done until I received this comment on Friday:
Thanks for your recent posts about Toronto. It has definitely been both an eye/heart opener. For those of us that do not have to actually move back since we never left, what is God calling us to do?
Great question. Here’s how I would answer.
First: Ask God to give you a heart for Toronto. There are lots of people who live in Toronto who don’t love it, and who aren’t praying for it. Don’t be one of them. Ask God to break your heart for the people who live here, and get on your knees and pray for revival. Refuse to settle for maintenance-level Christianity. Plead with God. Long for God’s presence and power. I’m convinced it begins here.
Second: Commit to the basics. When I interviewed Dan MacDonald, he said, “I was stunned at how much Christians in this city struggle with temptations, and with upholding basic Christian disciplines, ethics, and priorities. Like the effect of Mordor on Frodo, this city wears down disciples of Jesus.” Everything will drag us away from basic Christian disciplines, so our discipleship must be intentional. Pursue Christ. Spend time in the Word and prayer. Serve your church.
I’ve found that it only takes a few people who are seeking God’s heart for Toronto, and practicing the basics, to significantly change the temperature of a church.
Third: Think like a missionary. In his book Evangelism in the Early Church, Michael Green says that, according to historians, early Christianity’s explosive growth “was in reality accomplished by means of informal missionaries…in homes and wine shops, on walks, and around market stalls…they did it naturally, enthusiastically.”
The most effective missionaries I know in Toronto aren’t in vocational ministry, but have arranged their entire lives, including where they live and work, around mission. They do great work in their vocations, and are intentional about building relationships with neighbors. They’re open about their weaknesses, and they marvel at the gospel with anyone, including unbelievers.
Fourth: Consider where you can serve. I’m not a fan of church-hopping or church-shopping. I am, however, a fan of pastors who encourage members to consider joining church plants. I would love to develop a vision, along with other churches, of deploying our best people into plants and churches that need revitalization. Right now, there are churches in Toronto that would be changed with an infusion of 5 people. Or 2 people. It may be that your church is ready for this conversation. If so, pursue it.
Five: Give it time. David Fitch suggests we commit to a neighborhood for ten years. I think he’s on to something.
These are some of my ideas. I’d love to hear yours.
- Understanding Toronto
- From Canada’s Bible Belt To Toronto: An Interview With Tim Strickland
- The Spiritual Condition of Toronto
- As Toronto Goes: An Interview With Bert Thomson
- The “Move Back” Idea
- Toronto As A Ministry Incubator: An Interview With Barry Parker
- Pray for Toronto
- The City Of Borrowed Gospel Ethics: An Interview With Dan MacDonald
- What I Learned Blogging About Toronto
- Let’s Try Toronto: An Interview With Daniel Yang