It is a personal privilege and a sobering responsibility to be serving as the general superintendent of our Fellowship of churches, ministries and credentialed ministers as we head into the second century of our existence. Our 100th anniversary as the PAOC is being celebrated on Pentecost Sunday, June 9, 2019. It is an excellent opportunity to thank the Lord for the faithfulness and fruitfulness of past and present generations of Canadian Pentecostals.
As we cross into the future, it is a responsibility of spiritual leadership to hear what the Lord of the church would say to us by His Spirit at this time.
Pre-eminently, I believe the Lord’s call is for Canadian Pentecostals to remember and return to their “first love” (Revelation 2:4). Our spiritual vitality is rooted in a passionate hunger to love our God in a wholehearted, whole-minded and whole-life manner. From that stems love for our neighbour, which propels witness and service marked by grace, truth, justice and mercy.
From this passion comes the emphasis around our PAOC mission “to make disciples.” We are focusing on our “I am a disciple” commitments (visit everydayfaith.ca) with a lead priority on reaching, discipling and developing the leadership of millennials and those younger.
Reaching and discipling others, especially youth, do not occur without the Spirit’s empowerment and the transforming work of God’s living, active Word taking place. We will continue to call our leaders to model 24-7 life in the Spirit—a walk in the Spirit that is comfortable with the Spirit’s inbreaking while also modelling a commitment to truth that sets people free. Spirit and truth … Spirit and truth which our culture is desperate for followers of Jesus to demonstrate.
The Theological Study Commission, established by the General Executive (GEX) in 2009, continues to do the very important work it was commissioned to do. In 2015 the commission was mandated by the GEX to lead a process of reviewing and refreshing the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths (SOFET) as part of the theological vitality focus of the 2020 Initiative. The “review and refresh” process is not a novel activity in which to engage simply because we’ve got nothing better to do.” It is the result of a Fellowship of churches and leaders recognizing that truth matters, and that the truth must be regularly engaged by a Christian community seeking, in their generation, to practise and proclaim that Word with integrity. For instance, as we interact regarding our statements on eschatology and Spirit baptism, we are attempting to revive our sense that as we consider the imminent return of Jesus, we must continue our witness for Him in the power of the Spirit.
Jesus was very clear that fruitfulness (missional vitality) is the result of an intimate abiding in Him (spiritual vitality) and our abiding in His Word (theological vitality). We choose to believe beyond 2019 that we will see even greater missional fruitfulness in Canada and internationally than we have ever seen before. It will cost us to live out our faith not as a Sunday-lensed, preference-driven family of believers, but as lovers of God, empowered by the Spirit to bring the good news of Jesus to our communities, our nation, and the world.
For that reason, we will continue to place strong emphasis on developing vital churches that are mission focused and outward bound. Gary Taitinger, co-chair of the PAOC’s Church Revitalization Network (CRN), shares several encouraging indicators regarding the renewal of church health among us:
- Each of our districts is fully engaged and now co-ordinating their own leadership, messaging and strategy for church vitality.
- The national team shares progress and effectiveness options across all districts.
- There are early adopter wins already. Several stories of revitalization are on “The Loop” (visit theloop.fyi).
- Cross-provincial cohorts are forming in 2019 to connect grassroots implementers.
Additionally, Paul Fraser, the co-ordinator of the PAOC’s Multiply Network (MN), shares several encouraging indicators regarding our strategy to once again be a church-multiplying movement.
- We have officially launched the Multiply Network to champion and increase the profile of church multiplication in our PAOC family. Go to paoc.org/multiplynetwork for podcasts, articles and interviews.
- The Multiply Network shares church multiplication stories, resources and research each month with over 4,000 leaders across Canada, featuring primarily Canadian content.
- We have assisted and enhanced church multiplication systems, strategies and processes with our districts, and regularly present at our colleges and conferences.
- We continue to identify church multiplication planters, pastors and churches to start a disciple-making community within the next two years.
As a faithful, fruitful movement for the past 100 years, we have always been willing to give of our finest and best to front-line missional ministry. Through International Missions and Mission Canada, we continue to expand our missional footprint, both internationally and nationally. We look forward to releasing an ever-increasing number of global and Mission Canada workers into both new and established areas of mission.
Moving toward 2020 and beyond, we have a gift of faith that there are greater opportunities than ever before to be a spiritually, theologically and missionally vital Fellowship of churches, ministries and people. I urge you to lean in and join us as we experience all that the Lord has in mind for us.
Father, we are so blessed to have the privilege of being Your people in 2019. Thank You for opening doors ahead of us that no one can shut. Inspire and empower us to walk through the doors into the future You have for Your Pentecostal family in Canada. For Your glory, Amen.”
This article appeared in the April/May/June 2019 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.