Why plant a church on Prince Edward Island?
It’s a good question and there are a few good answers. I offer them to you in no particular order, and I will not try to rank them by importance. Like many things in life, there is not just one good reason for this endeavour.
1. God’s People Asked
My wife and I first considered the idea of church planting on PEI, because the people of God asked us to consider it. A dear, Christian brother reached out to me a couple of years ago and floated the idea of a church plant in Charlottetown past me. When I followed up with him a little while later, it was clear that he and a group of faithful Christians had been asking the Lord and others for someone to come and help for quite some time.
The request reminds me of the request that Paul receives in Acts 16. In a vision, a man from Macedonia speaks to the Apostle Paul and says, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). Though I did not receive a vision like Paul, God spoke through his people and made it clear that there was a desire for someone to come and a desire for someone to help. It was this call that got my wife and I praying and discerning about church planting on PEI, and it was this call that we ultimately answered with a ‘yes’.
2. There is a need
Contrary to the preconceived notions of many, PEI is a growing place, in fact, it is Canada’s fastest growing province. Furthermore, it is the only province in the country where the median age is going down. To put it another way, PEI is getting younger and younger. This population growth is being driven by an influx of immigrants who are coming from across the country and from around the world.
PEI is Canada’s fastest growing province.
There are Christians moving to the Island who will be in need of a church and there are non-Christians moving to the Island who are in desperate need of the Gospel. It would be a foolish thing indeed to adopt a scarcity mentality when it comes to PEI. There is more than enough good, Gospel work to be done on the Island and more than enough people to do it with.
As the Lord once said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). This brings me to my next point.
3. PEI and the rest of Canada Could do with more Churches
There are few, if any, parts of this country that are ‘Gospel-saturated’ or ‘church-saturated’. I have yet to visit a town in this country where everyone is at church on a Sunday. Though church buildings still dominate the street corners of many of our hamlets, villages, towns, and cities, these are not the monuments of a healthy and robust Christian culture. Rather, most of these buildings are near empty, and more and more as the days go by, they are being converted into coffee shops, antique stores, or community halls.
I am not trying to be pessimistic, far from it, I am simply trying to say that there is great need and therefore an opportunity for Gospel ministry almost everywhere in this country. Canada could do with a renewed missionary effort coming to its shores. Canada could do with a re-evangelization. Whatever you want to call such an endeavour, the point is that Canada is not full up on churches, she could do with some more. Lots more.
4. I was told that I Could take it slow
When I received the call to plant on PEI, the call was partnered with an assurance that such an endeavour would have to be undertaken ‘lowly and slowly’. The good folk on the Island did not ask me to bring revival to the Island, nor did they expect me to be the best thing since sliced bread (because I can assure you, I am not). Rather, they wanted a minister who would, by the grace of God, preach the pure Word of God and duly administer the Sacraments according to Christ’s ordinance (Article XIX, Articles of Religion). Simple stuff, but important stuff.
I appreciated this approach and was grateful that I did not have to put together and fund a Gospel S.W.A.T Team that would storm the red shores of PEI and take the Island for the Gospel. Be assured, I do hope to see many people come to trust in Christ and I would love to see the Gospel go far and wide, but I believe this will come not by using “underhanded ways” or “cunning”, but by “the open statement of the truth” (2 Corinthians 4:3). The folks at our church plant knew that they were getting a meat-and-potatoes guy to do a meat-and-potatoes job.
I also appreciated this approach, because it seems to appreciate the fact that there are other faithful churches on the Island led by faithful ministers. Like I said before, I’m not the next best thing, my hope is to simply be one more faithful minister, serving a faithful church, in a place that needs one.
I love this quote from Bishop Ryle, “The longer I live the more I am convinced that the world needs no new Gospel, as some profess to think. I am thoroughly persuaded that the world needs nothing but a bold, full, unflinching teaching of the “old paths”. The heart of man is the same in every age. The spiritual medicine which it requires is always the same.”
5. I have a Passion for Rural Ministry
This is a personal point. Both my wife and I have a burden for rural ministry and we both love living in smaller places that are just a little bit out of the way. We like the pace. We don’t know what people are talking about when they say that there’s nothing to do and we love the opportunities that come with living in a place like PEI.
These are just a few reasons why we’re planting a church in PEI. There are many more, but the point is, we think it’s more than worthwhile. My prayer is that many more will be inspired to plant churches on this Island and in this country; in every nook, cranny, province, and territory. “From sea to sea [to sea], and from the River to the ends of the earth!” (Psalm 72:8).