Focus of ministry must be on Jesus, not new building

Published October 1, 2000

AS I BEGIN writing this article I am surrounded by chaos; but it is creative chaos! One week from now our new church building opens in Streetsville, and the place is a hive of business as trades people and parishioners work to make sure that everything is ready.

In the spring of 1998 I wrote in this column of the senseless destruction of our nearly completed building by arson. Just months away from completing a major renovation and beginning a new chapter in our ministry, the whole building was burned to the ground. We were devastated, and in that column I asked for your prayers.

The mood is much different today. Through more than two years of insurance negotiations, fund raising, redesigning, and construction, God has taken care of us, and the congregation has continued to thrive. As we prepare for the opening, it is fascinating for us to realize that many members of today’s congregation have never worshipped with us anywhere but in a school gymnasium. We joke that they are really going to miss the basketball nets in the new building.

This Sunday will be our last service in the school gym. We will give thanks to God for his faithfulness during this difficult time, and we will read Psalm 126 together: “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like people who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

But even as we rejoice together and celebrate this exciting new beginning, we are aware of the dangers and temptations this new, state-of-the-art building will bring. Probably the greatest of these will be to let this new building become the focus of our ministry. Already, in these last-minute preparations with all the details, we have seen how much of our energy it can take.

Our mission is still to learn to follow Jesus, to learn to live the life of God’s kingdom, to live to the glory of God, and in doing so to bring people to faith in Christ and into lives of discipleship. It would be a poor trade-off to lose sight of this for the sake of a building, no matter how magnificent.

A woman in our congregation summed it up well for me recently. As we met in the parking lot I asked her, “So how do you like our new church?” With a smile she answered, “I have always loved our church, and I like our new building too.” Exactly.

These are exciting times in the life of this congregation. Easter does follow Good Friday, because God is always good. We cannot always understand his ways but we know that we can always trust his heart. Thank you so much for your prayers and support during our difficult times. Please continue to pray that God will keep us faithful, and that our ministry will be blessed.

May this new building truly be “to the glory of God.” Canon Harold Percy is rector of Trinity Anglican Church in Streetsville, Ont., and the author of several books on evangelism.


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