Since January 2015, under the new Fellowship Francophone Ministry, we have been encouraging new collaborative relationships with our francophone churches through direct and strategic partnerships. The Fellowship French Region now takes responsibility for its church planting direction, supervision and support just like the other Fellowship regions across Canada. Our current vision calls for 20 Antioch (mother) churches to plant 30 new congregations by 2020, but to reach this goal we still need help from the rest of Canada. Partners are encouraged to share not only in terms of prayer and financial support but also in mentoring and the mutual sharing of experience and resources, including work and ministry teams. At this point in time, there are 74 churches and 37 individuals who have committed to such a partnership. They are partnering either directly with francophone church plants, Antioch churches with a vision to multiply, or with one of two regions of Quebec which have pioneer missionary status due to an absence of Gospel witness.
MUTUAL BENEFITS FOR ALL
An Alberta Connection
The Connexion church in Plessisville, under the leadership of Karl Fortin and Steve Cloutier, has partners in Ontario and British Columbia as well as a coalition of four churches in Alberta who have rallied around this young, smalltown congregation in central Quebec. Although there are regions of the prairies with little or no Gospel witness, there are many small towns that have multiple evangelical congregations. In rural Quebec there are literally dozens of small towns with no Gospel witness whatsoever. The vision of the Plessisville congregation is to see a corporate Gospel witness develop in every town of their region.
One of the first things the Alberta churches did was to invite Karl and Steve to take a tour of the churches in order to introduce them to their congregations. When the churches heard what Connexion was doing in Plessisville, they were motivated to mobilize in their own communities.
Other benefits to the partner churches include: inspiration, encouragement to live missionally, and exposure to the contagious zeal of the young churches in Quebec that has often been lost in older, more established churches. As well, exposure to a young church plant stimulates members of partner churches to be more open to connect with unchurched people in the community.
An Ontario Connection
With the help of both individual and church partners, Ecclesia, a young Antioch church in St. Jérôme, was able to purchase – and is in the process of renovating – an old theatre in the heart of the city. A young couple with architectural training (Marius and Michelle Weideman) moved from Cambridge, Ontario, to Quebec for one year in order to provide onsite expertise in the renovation efforts. Earlier this year, representatives from the partner churches gathered in St. Jérôme to coordinate their assistance to this young church in the renovation work, as well as in preparing it to eventually multiply in its own right.
According to Pastor Jacob Mathieu, the biggest impact for the church has been to receive the love and support from people outside of the congregation. “They believe in us and what we are trying to do. Several pastors of our partner churches have had to deal with major challenges, so they understand what we are experiencing.”
Lasting relationships are being built as Ecclesia has received several work teams to help with the renovations. Church families are becoming accustomed to hosting visitors in their homes and members have joined the teams in their work. We believe that we can effectively reach the francophones in our country within our generation, with God’s empowerment and all hands on deck! Is God calling you or your church to join us in this endeavour? For more information about partnering with a French church, contact Fellowship President Steve Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.