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Peace for Church Planting in a Global Pandemic

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Have you ever wished people would peaceably welcome an idea God put on your heart? Planting Connexion Rockland amid a global pandemic has helped me reflect on the advent theme of peace in very tangible ways. The response I have witnessed to the idea of planting a healthy church focused on discipling, in Rockland, Ontario, has revealed to me the extraordinary power of God’s prevenient grace and the importance of seeking peace.

Peace in Church Planting

My wife Madeleine and I had been looking for a couple who would labor with us to plant a church in the eastern part of Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. When I called a friend to see if he would be interested in praying about the idea of co-planting a church in Rockland, he was open to it. Through prayer, our two couples sensed peace to move forward. Once I received from God the green light to talk to people about the church planting initiative in Rockland, the first couple we talked to shared with us that the burden God had put on our hearts was an answer to their prayers. “And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10:6) God prepares persons of peace to welcome those He sends. Not long after, I met a group of people who had been disconnected from their local church, on the heals of doctrinal decisions made by the church’s association. When I introduced myself to members of this group as a church planter exploring options to plant a church in Rockland, the idea of starting a doctrinally healthy church in Rockland was welcome with peace. I received similar feedback from French- and English-speaking people in Rockland who were in church transition. I had not foreseen that a number of Christians living in Rockland were looking for a viable church option, in that town. God had prepared persons of peace who welcomed the idea of learning how to follow Jesus in French and English. The idea of a bilingual church raised a number of questions, partly because it was new to them. The limited experience they had with implementations of the concept of a bilingual church was not appealing to them. We knew there was a Gospel-focused approach to gathering linguistically diverse people to follow Jesus, in a way that displays the multi-faceted glory of our triune God. The feedback we have received from people with a wide spectrum of fluency in French and English has been encouraging. Practicing life-on-life discipling week-in and week-out was not familiar for a number of people who have joined Connexion Rockland. However, people persevere in developing meaningful (i.e. honest non-superficial) relationships revolving around Jesus and marked with Bible engagement and prayer. Admiring the perseverance of Connexion Rockland, amid a global pandemic puts my heart at peace. I have witnessed Christians respond differently to Romans 13, with respect to Government-issued social gathering regulations. However, God has preserved unity. God’s peace is needed and abiding. The idea of fixing our house to sell it and move to Rockland was a trigger for anxiety in our family. Speedily, however, we received an email, out of nowhere, offering help for house renovation, at no cost, from people who had joined Connexion Rockland. We were speechless. God had just injected our hearts with peace surpassing understanding. Church planting in Rockland is God’s initiative. We just happen to be in line with His plans, at the right time and the right place.

Spoons of Peace from God’s Word

The human condition includes times without peace and conflict. There is a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:8)

God is a God of peace. Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. (Judges 6:24) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23) May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

The God of compassion promises peace. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. (Leviticus 26:6)

The Most High grants peace to those who seek Him. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3) “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10) I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. (Ezekiel 37:26) And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)

The Father gives peace through Jesus. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1) Through Jesus, God has reconciled to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:20)

The Creator gives peace through the Holy Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)

Jesus gives peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Christ is the peace of those who follow Him. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)

The Good Shepherd comes with peace. As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:36)

The Lord grants peace to those He heals. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34) And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50) And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

God's work in his children is marked with peace. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

Planning peace leads to joy. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. (Proverbs 12:20)

Therefore, it makes sense that peace would be the object of our prayers. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:26) “Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” (Psalm 122:7) To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13) May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (Romans 15:33) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

However, peace with the wicked is not to be desired by Jesus’ followers. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever. (Deuteronomy 23:6)

Indeed, Jesus brings division with those opposed to Him. Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (Luke 12:51) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Romans 16:20)

Blessed are those who make peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

The Gospel is a message of peace. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all). (Acts 10:36) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17) And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:17) Put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)

People who follow Jesus are to seek peace. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:18) But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15) Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11) Let us, therefore, be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3) Let us, therefore, esteem (spiritual leaders) very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:13) So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22) Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14) Let us turn away from evil and do good; let us seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:11) Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:14) A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18)

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