Lessons from the Church in Eastern Canada: Get Creative
*Editor’s Note: Tim Cook is a RENEW.org regional director in Nova Scotia, Canada. As a church planter in a heavily post-Christian context, he has much to teach us all about how to keep focus and maintain joy despite societal shifts away from Christianity. I recently caught up with Tim and picked his brain about making disciples in a post-Christian world. For Part 1 of the conversation, click here.
Q: How is the perception of church in Canada?
We joke that we’re 20 years behind Toronto, so you can still see a lot of traditional stuff in churches: pews, the wood panels on the walls, the giving numbers, pink carpet. Many longstanding churches are closing their doors.
Q: Speaking of being “years behind,” I have heard that the United States isn’t too far behind Canada. What advice do you have for the American church from your perspective in Canada?
My American pastor friends tell me the churches that were healthy before COVID are the ones that are still healthy now. It’s the churches which are making disciples. Whether or not you have big churches and big staff or not, it’s all about putting more resources into helping disciples making disciples who make disciples.
Q: What’s your advice for the church leader who has seen enough division and discouragement to where he’s mentally crossed a threshold: We’ll get through COVID, and then I’m going to go sell insurance.
Fast and pray. Ask the Lord to remind you what He’s called you to. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to do.
In Canada, gone are the days when you can expect to raise enough money to plant a church and go full-time as a ministry. As we’re called into ministry (and I think in fifteen years the US will be here too), ministers will need to go bivocational (I’ve got my day job and do ministry on the weekends) and covocational (e.g., how we can have a coffee shop where we can raise money to have a church in the coffee shop too). At Maritime Christian College, we’re anticipating this with our class called “Lean Startup” which teaches entrepreneurship in order to realistically be able to do ministry.
If I join God in His vision, I can’t lose.
Q: You’re thinking creatively.
We have no choice. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong about going back into the secular world if you’re making disciples.
Q: What verse keeps you going on hard ministry days?
Habbakuk 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” I believe that’s God’s vision and I know He will make His vision happen. If I join Him in His vision, I can’t lose.