By: Viviana Spicer
It has been almost 28 months since Scotland Baptist Church, now known as New Harvest, met inside a church building. In 2018, the members unanimously voted to sell the building, and in May 2018, that is exactly what happened. These last 28 months have brought many changes: a name change, the sale of a building, and most notably, the departure of the former pastors. The new congregation has no paid staff, led by a small trained team with diverse talents and giftings, freely giving of time and energy to see this church grow and thrive. This has been an intentional decision, a philosophy of ministry, a string of questions we decided to try and answer:
“What would church look like if we genuinely believed that everyone has a unique gift that is necessary to the health and well-being of our congregation? What if every member brought their gifts and contributed as partners, investing in this community, rather than customers seeing what it has to offer them?”
What does it look like? Well, lean in, I’ll tell you.
It looks like having a rotating team of teachers on Sunday mornings, each with their distinct strengths and weaknesses, each with their styles and teaching preferences. It means we have a small (but growing) congregation, allowing the flexibility and intimacy of open discussions, and Sunday sermons interrupted by, “Excuse me. Can I ask a question about that?” and maybe some of the theoretical points get stopped by a, “But what does that actually look like?” It means a sermon turns into a discussion, where the teacher becomes a facilitator, ensuring that you cannot come and be a pew warmer—except we don’t have pews, but you get my point. It looks like teaching and learning from the Bible, but with the goal of seeing lives transformed. Because what’s the point if we walk away the same?
It looks like a church that believes in community living, giving up time and energy to prioritize relationships and friendships. Yes, even during COVID. It looks like you knocking on my door on your morning walk and me knocking on yours, asking for a cup of sugar. It looks like church-wide game nights on Zoom, and virtual prayer meetings, and church hikes. It looks like loving your neighbour as yourself, with our finances reflecting a goal of 50% of our budget focused overseas; the money coming in is generally on its way out. It looks like outdoor, backyard services during warmer weather and our children’s church in the neighbouring yard. It looks like unchurched youth coming to walk on stilts, play birdie golf, and make s’mores around the campfire.
It looks like you disagreeing with me, and me disagreeing with you. But more than that, it looks like us coming together, standing in unity knowing that our differences are smaller than our common belief in Jesus and the transforming power we’ve personally experienced. It looks like us coming together for a beautiful cause of reaching our village, our county, our surrounding towns through real relationships, and real conversations about the real issues our real neighbours are facing.
I could tell you more, but really, these things are best experienced in person. Join us this week, as we meet in a church building for the first time in 28 months! See you Sundays at 1:30 pm at Burford Fellowship Baptist Church (whose building we are extremely grateful to borrow!).
Viviana Spicer is one of the members of the leadership team along with her husband, Lucas. They juggle a busy household with (usually) four young children, though as foster parents, this number varies from time to time. Though she has attended church since a young child, being part of this new re-plant has been the first time she has experienced true excitement from church involvement.
By: Viviana Spicer