I can think of a few reasons not to move to Toronto to pastor or serve.
It’s expensive. It’s the second most expensive city in Canada. It’s still fairly low on the list compared to other cities, but most people who live here would tell you it’s costly, which makes it hard for churches to find pastors.
It’s secular. Jared Wilson recently tweeted that church planters in every town claim to be serving the least churched and most diverse community going. I hate to play that game, but Toronto really is a city that’s diverse and growing with a low percentage of believers. Over 230 different nationalities live here. The BBC named Toronto the most diverse city in the world in 2017. And it’s very secular. Once called the city of churches, almost a third of people claim no religious affiliation. I tell people that it makes Seattle and Portland look like the Bible Belt.
It’s also hard to bridge the subtle cultural differences. If you come to Canada from the States, you will find the culture similar enough that you fit in, but different enough that you don’t quite feel at home. Not every American can make it up here due to the subtle cultural differences.
You may not want to move and serve in Toronto because it’s expensive, secular, and culturally different.
But here’s why I hope that some of you may consider moving, living, and serving in Toronto.
First, I hope you come because it’s a great city. I love living here. I love everything about it except for the weather in winter. I love the different cultures. I love the food. I love exploring the different neighborhoods. I love the relative safety. I love the coffee. If you like cities, Toronto is a great place to live.
Second, I hope you come because of the opportunity. Toronto is ready for people who understand the gospel and want to live on mission. If you want to reach unreached people, Toronto is a great place to live.
So many neighborhoods here need church plants. Some churches need pastors. So many churches could benefit from an infusion of believers who are interested in living on mission and supporting the work. God really could use you to make a difference in this city.
Why am I writing this?
I’m writing out of love for Toronto. One day in 1988, I exited a subway station (Runnymede) and fell in love with this city. Around the same time, an older pastor challenged me to make a lifetime commitment to this city. For 30 years, I’ve pastored here. I’ve seen the challenges and I’ve experienced the joys.
And I’m praying that God would raise up more people with a passion for Toronto.
I’m praying to the Lord of the harvest that he would raise up workers of all kinds who will come to Toronto, love the city, and help to meet its challenges. I’m praying for church planters, pastors, and church members to come out of love and compassion, to pay the cost, and to ask God to use their obedience.
I can think of a few reasons not to come to Toronto. But I can think of some great reasons to come and serve. Perhaps some of you will consider coming to Toronto. But even if you don’t, perhaps you will pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers here for his glory.