ONE YEAR IN THE MAKING
The Story Behind Interaction – Year 1
February 2013 – Looking out the window of the Starbucks on St-Jean and gazing at the ice cold sky, I pondered and prayed over the direction of what seemed to me like a great sinking ship the church in Montreal had become. On my iPad I had drawn a sketch of the island and its surroundings – Vaudreuil, Laval, the South Shore – and marked the approximate areas where the main church bodies were.
I sipped on my tea – graciously offered to me by none other than Ryan Simunic, one of the young adult worship leaders from Westview Bible Church – and tried myself to figure out how one could organize the church to be more effective in reaching the world – united, truth-bearing and bold.
Then I looked back up to the sky.
Flashes of the past year came to mind. It was a hard year. Heartbreak. Division. Isolation. Exams ahead. I had left my old church plant after a number of embarrassing internal difficulties. Having been involved there on pretty much a continuous weekly basis, I was somewhat relieved that I finally had the chance to visit other churches in the area. It had been quite a while since I had been to any other church, and I wanted to get an idea about what our Christian community looked like in the West Island. So off I went merrily church-hopping, greeting and being greeted by many faces, beautiful faces, all seemingly yearning for the same thing for their small congregations: that they could reach the West Island for Christ.
I noticed a few other things too. Firstly, there was a retention problem – we were barely holding onto a mere few of the young upcoming generation. I was encouraged though that I saw a focus on children’s ministry, even high school ministry, but something serious was lacking. What was happening to all the University students? Were they ever going to return to their home churches and fuel a re-evangelism? It didn’t seem likely.
Also, churches were intensely suspicious of any mention of crossing denominational lines – or even just walking across the street to see how their neighbouring church was doing! What a scary thought – that we were totally impotent in demonstrating the love for one another that Jesus commanded, so that the world could know that we truly are Jesus’ disciples.
What could anyone do to renew the vision for the church here at home? Oh, the despair… Yet in all this, a glimmer of hope from the South-East: another flashback.
Enter ‘Impact Jeunesse’, the teen and young adult group of Église Nouvelle Vie in Longueuil. I first encountered them online and was struck by the liveliness and sense of humour of their Young Adult Pastor, David Pothier. And the online messages hit home with me: practical godly advice on career, dating and growing in the knowledge of God.
And then I went in person. I had actually been encouraged by folk in my old church to check them out since they had heard there seemed to be a lot of young people there.
And young people there were. Many young people. Like 500 young people. Worshiping. Every. Single. Week. And there were 5-10 new people each week! More than that, within 7 months of my attending their Friday night services, they announced that they were collectively going to plant a brand new church on the island of Montreal – to reach the French community in the downtown area.
Boom! Discipleship. Growth. Evangelism. Something was going on – dare I say it… Revival?
We needed that. Like desperately. Right here – in the West Island. But how?!
Then the answer came. My eyes dropped down back onto the map I had sketched.
We needed an ‘Impact Jeunesse’ in the West Island. But not just any kind of ‘Impact Jeunesse’. We needed a bilingual, inter-church ‘Impact Jeunesse’.
Boom! Unity in the Body propelling growth and sustainability for the future. This was amazing. Why didn’t anybody else think of this? Maybe it was already happening and I didn’t know about it? What could I do?
I got up and went for a walk. Actually I drove to Centennial Park – where I went for a walk – and climbed the hill across the lake. From that vantage point, I felt even closer to God and beheld a breath-taking view over Montreal and the West Island. Yes, it had to be. We needed this. Young worshipers of Jesus working together, crossing denominational and language barriers, and being His hands and feet to the poor in our communities.
Was this just some beautiful idealistic dream of something so perfect, yet realistically unattainable?
But we have a big God – and that makes all the difference. Through many trials and tribulations shall we enter the kingdom of God – but oh, is it ever worth it!
And so, one whole year after having received this vision – this dream – I have the utmost joy in announcing that it has actually become a reality!
As of today, February 1st, 2014, Interaction is now a local West Island teen and young adult program run by Montreal Youth Unlimited based at Terra Nova in Dorval and La Corde in Cloverdale, with full-time employees who have the heart it takes for reaching young people with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
We’ll be launching a Discipleship Training Course in a few weeks and developing a replicable multi-site model for the CoffeeHouse as a laid-back inter-church worship and mingling soirée, where you can bring your friends to hear about Jesus.
Oh yes, it’s all about Jesus. And all the glory belongs to Him who sent Him!
Come and see! ;)