You become a Christian “by yourself” in the sense that the decision to respond with faith to God’s grace in Jesus Christ is yours alone. But when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and are born again, adopted, made alive, redeemed, justified, washed clean – we enter into a New Covenant created by God. This means we live under the Lord’s affection, rule and care with all the redeemed. In other words, we do not live the Christian life alone, but with others.
The main way this is worked out is by belonging to a local church where the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) are administered as the Lord directed. We must not only gather together on the Lord’s Day to worship Him and receive grace, but we also have other ways to know and support each other. However, even a local church is not meant to be alone. Here are four ways that Messiah (the church I pastor) walks and lives with other gospel-shaped churches.
First, cross-denominational associations or partnerships are very important. The Gospel Coalition Canada (TGCC) is a cross-denominational partnership of churches in the “Baptistic”, Reformed and Anglican traditions. I should mention that Messiah has been involved in TGCC from the very start – I am one of the founding Council members, and with the Messiah council approval, TGCC was formed in our ministry space.
Second, the Ottawa Compassion Collective is another partnership of Messiah. We have partnered with West Village Church, The Gathering, Calvary Baptist and Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church to “adopt”, through Compassion, a region in Guatemala. The unveiling of this Collective took place this past Wednesday, and we are hoping several other churches will join. Compassion is a great organization.
Louise and I have sponsored a child through Compassion for many years now. We will have a “Compassion Sunday” this Fall encouraging prayer for Guatemala, and sponsoring children in “our” region. This Collective opens up the door to raise money for specific projects and also to visit the region and projects. These visits will be organized by Compassion and allow a group of us from different churches to get exposure of the need and how God is using local Guatemalan churches to meet the needs and share the Gospel. Our hope is this Collective will work together for quite a few years, building relationships in Ottawa and Guatemala.
Third, briefly, Ryle Seminary is run by Messiah, but works cross-denominationally to train church leaders, curious laity and future pastors. We were the main sponsor of the Renew Arts and Apologetics Conference which worked cross-denominationally and had its inaugural conference yesterday. We are a founding sponsor church of the yearly Dig and Delve Apologetics Conference.
Fourth, we are a part of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). In fact, we were involved from the beginning as the Lord built our new “denomination” and we were one of the eight founding churches of ANiC. We are part of like-minded churches in North America as part of the Anglican Church in North America. We are also linked to 80% of all Anglicans worldwide through GAFCON.
Please pray for all of these endeavours and support them (or ones like them) as best you can.