What a season it has been.
As elders, we have been seeking the Lord in prayer and His Word for how to navigate the choppy waters of changing health restrictions and life with COVID19.
Scripture calls us in Hebrews 10:25 to "not neglect meeting together" and our hearts have been encouraged to see that, in a season where the "normal" gathering has been interrupted out of a concern for the wellbeing of our community, our church has not "neglected" (disregarded, ignored, forgotten) the gathering. In fact, Hebrews 10:24 gives us one of the reasons we gather - "to stir up one another to love and good works." And Harvest has been doing great in this time of a limited large group gathering to continue to stir each other up by:
- meeting in smaller groups
- reaching out to each other (phone calls, FaceTime, texts, drop-ins, etc)
- serving each other and serving with each other
- living out the “one anothers” of Scripture
- not forgetting those who are isolated or wandering
- and more!
We have seen our church take up the "10-10 Challenge" of connecting with 10 people in our church family and 10 people who don't know Jesus and the testimonies coming in were so encouraging (including salvation!).
This pandemic has increased a lot of stress on families and people. Our pastors, elders, deacons, directors, key leaders and so many more have been hard at work seeking to meet the growing needs. Thank you so much for not just being a church full of spectators but instead being people who fully participate in the work of being a church! We continue to pray for and reach out to people who are feeling isolated and scattered.
We have seen our church rally to those in need as our Care Teams have been coming alongside so many people with meals, financial assistance, practical help, counselling, visits, etc.
We have seen our church being active in supporting local businesses — even to the point of so generously helping one business owner at risk of losing her business that she responded:
"People that I have never met,
have reached out to me and helped
in more ways than I can even begin to thank them for.
I may not believe in God.
But apparently, He believes in me.”
While we are doing our best to serve God in the midst of different lockdowns and restrictions we have also been active to implore our government officials to consider church an "essential service". Here is a letter we sent during the last lockdown.
There is much happening at Harvest and much to be thankful for as we look forward with anticipation for what God has for us in the days ahead. We send out these updates as a way to regularly keep you updated. If you have any questions after reading this latest Elder Update, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We continue to call out to the Lord with hearts filled with both dependence (humbly knowing that outside of God’s work we have nothing) and expectation (faithfully knowing that God can and will do the miraculous).
Together on this amazing mission,
The Elders of Harvest Church
One blessing that came out of the restrictions and lockdowns was that they were very revealing about where we have some weaknesses as a church. We've seen that we've lost some of the clarity and simplicity of our mission as we've grown larger. We've also discovered that, while our Sunday Morning services have had deep impact, we have grown thin on our "life on life" weekly discipleship and care. Our pastoral staff has been working hard to address these weaknesses and create greater clarity and simplicity on who we are and how we do discipleship and outreach.
We have been working as elders, staff, EST, and other leaders in anticipation to roll out this clearer, simpler more sustainable, and recaptured effective mission and discipleship.
As we continue to refine this mission, vision, and discipleship plan we will be meeting with our Small Group Leaders, Coaches, Deacons, and Directors and then meeting with all our Members. An invite will be coming for both of these meetings. We will have a Zoom option for those who cannot attend these meetings in person.
Muskoka Leadership Meeting
April 12th @ 7pm
Muskoka Member's Meeting
April 29th @7pm
Location: We continue to work with our Bracebridge Leadership Team to determine the best plan moving forward; current options include rental of a facility, purchase of an existing facility, or building of a new church facility on our land in Bracebridge. Last weekend we joined with our BracebridgeTeam for a 'Prayer Walk' through our property and we are now exploring both short term and long term plans for possible property development including potential construction of a new church facility.
Pray that we will be directed by God in our discussions with both municipal officials and development professionals so that His will is made evident.
Lead Pastor: Our pastoral search team has prayerfully recommended three individuals to Harvest Church leadership (Elders and staff) who are currently in dialogue with these potential candidates.
Please pray that the individual of God's appointment is revealed to us in His plans, purpose, and timing -- all for His glory.
It has been exciting to finally gather together again in Parry Sound for the first time on March 14th since Christmas Eve! As expected, we've had strong and consistent numbers attending as well as more first-time local visitors!
Throughout lockdowns, "The Market" ministry has successfully continued. We've served over 200 meals so far this year and are also helping people in the community periodically during the week. We will also now be including Bible devotionals with the meals we deliver, so please pray that God's Word would be received and change hearts as we serve Parry Sound.
We are currently working on the cost of installing air conditioning in the church building. As this cost becomes apparent, we will then have greater clarity on how best to move forward with some of the other projects, such as finishing the downstairs to add a breakout room for our Harvest Kids Ministry and joining the 2 buildings together so that we can provide a nursery space for our parents with young kids. These projects will greatly enhance our ministries and our ability to disciple and welcome others as we gather together.
We have been incredibly blessed by the amazing generosity of the GCC and even most recently Hope Church Oakville, who donated another $10,000 to financially support the Harvest Parry Sound Church building renovations.
The Board of Elders has approved the Harvest Church 2021 budget. The highlights include:
- A Bracebridge Lead Pastor
- A Discipleship/Executive Pastor
- BMLSS rental starting Sept. 1
- A Bracebridge Harvest Kids Coordinator starting Sept. 1
The 2021 approved budget of $1,063,000 is slightly lower than the 2020 budget of $1,095,000 due to less facility costs and less expenses in 2021.
Please pray that God sends the staff that He wants us to have and that the facility requirements in Bracebridge become available as assumed above.
Please also pray for our 2022 budget which will include:
- The full year impact of the above 2021 items which will result in a 2022 budget of about $1,230,000, and
- With the ONE campaign ending Dec.31/21, the debt remaining will need to be addressed as part of our 2022 financial plan/budget.
PREVIOUS ELDER UPDATES
Mini-Sabbatical for Kaj
As most of you know we have been planning a Sabbatical for Kaj for some time - a time for him to seek the Lord to refresh his mind, body and soul. We like to say it this way: mind off, hands off and heart engaged.
Simply put this means keeping his mind from having to worry about the business of the church, his hand’s off - releasing him completely from any church responsibility, and having his heart engaged to seek and hear from the Lord. This planned sabbatical has been cancelled a few times over the last couple of years due to seasons of church life that would have made it difficult for us as a church. As elders we see an opportunity now for a short Mini-Sabbatical which will start this December 21st and end January 31st.
We know some of you are thinking, “Really, right in the middle of COVID is a good time to take a Sabbatical when we need your leadership the most?”
Let us gently remind all of us of two truths:
1. There is never an ideal time in leadership to take a rest. There is always some crisis or something that comes up. Like anything else it is something that must be intentionally sought and planned, believing God has great purpose and reason for it. Let’s remember that even Jesus and His disciples went "apart" for times of rest and revitalization.
2. Jesus is our Chief Shepherd. As gifted and talented as Kaj is, he is not the head of our church, Jesus Christ is. We are so grateful that the Lord has blessed us with Kaj, but even without Kaj God will continue to build his church.
So, what does a Mini-Sabbatical mean for Kaj?
First of all, let us clarify this is not intended to replace Kaj’s full Sabbatical which will be a longer period of time, planned and taken at some other time.
This Mini-Sabbatical will be a time to physically rest, reflect, read, study, pray, memorize and study Scripture and journal. In short it is a time for him to seek the Lord and rest. During this time he will not be pastoring, leading or ministering to the church in any way. The elders will help and approve a plan for this time.
So, what does this mean for the church and what will the church be doing on Sundays if Kaj is not preaching? The elders and our Deacon of Mission, Jay Brubacher, have arranged for some guest preachers from Mission Agencies for 3 Sundays and our Pastoral staff will cover 3 Sundays while Kaj is away.
We are asking you as a church to allow Kaj to be fully disengaged during his Sabbatical. This means no counselling, no emails, no texts, no phone calls, no social media posts or going over to his house. Let’s honour our Pastor by giving him a true break.
Before his Sabbatical though, we encourage you to connect with Kaj and let him know how much you appreciate him or how Harvest has blessed or ministered to you.
While Kaj is away you can pray for him and his family. Click here for specific ways and verses you can be praying for Kaj and his family while he is away.
If you have a need while Kaj is away you can find a complete list of our Church Leadership on our website. If you are not sure who to reach out to, please call the church or email email@example.com. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please connect with one of our elders but not Kaj.
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of our discipleship at Harvest we have decided to modify our Discipleship Model to include a smaller weekly gathering that we call Life Groups. In order to comply with COVID19 restrictions we will launch these smaller groups before we begin gathering in larger monthly Community Groups. The primary purpose of Life Groups is to encourage each other to seek the Lord and be in God’s Word for ourselves! To learn more about our Discipleship Model as a whole, and more specifically about Life Groups, please click here.
If you are interested in being a Life Group Leader, we are excited to invite you to join us on Monday January 11th at 7pm at our Huntsville location for our Discipleship Life Group Launch meeting. Please note that this meeting is for our Muskoka locations.
After much prayer and discussion with both staff and leadership, we have decided to pursue a new Executive Pastor of Discipleship. As a church we put a high value on intentional discipleship and so it has become very clear to both elders and staff how critical this role is within our church. This does not mean we are going to stop our search for a Bracebridge Lead Pastor but rather we will pray and seek the Lord for both simultaneously. More details about the Executive Pastor of Discipleship will be coming soon!
Please continue to pray for the Lord’s direction in pursuing both a Lead Pastor and location for Bracebridge to be able to meet.
We are pleased to announce that Jesse Landin will be filling the role as Harvest Kid’s Coordinator for Muskoka. Jesse Landin continues to work for Camp Mini-Yo-We and comes with children's ministry experience as their Boys Camp Director. We are excited to have Jesse join our team and we encourage you to pray for Jesse and his family as they faithfully serve in both of these ministries. To reach Jesse you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parry Sound Update:
Praise God for how He is moving in Parry Sound!
We are GROWING!
We were excited to hold our first Harvest Essentials on November 22nd since covid restrictions were lifted, with 10 new people desiring to make Harvest home!
Over the past weeks we have had a number of people attend our services simply because they were walking by down the main street and heard our worship music! We have been able to give these people Bibles and pray with them, praise God for how He is drawing people in to hear His Word.
Harvest Youth Begins!
Harvest Youth also officially launched for the first time in November and we are again seeking the Lord to grow and expand this ministry to reach the youth both in our church and our town.
The Market ministry continues to flourish, with the ministry having moved to meals being picked-up in person at our church building. Please pray that as these people become comfortable and familiar with our team and that they will desire to attend on Sunday's. We are also praying for a point-person to oversee and lead this ministry moving forward.
The Road to Financial Sustainability
We are extremely thankful for the continued support of our wider church family, both in Muskoka, and the GCC. Following a recent board meeting the GCC has committed to providing $10,000 for our Parry Sound ministry this year, as well as a further $10,000 for our 2021 ministry efforts! Praise God! The long-term goal is to see our church family in Parry Sound grow and become self-sustaining. This funding is being provided with an appreciation of how Muskoka has and continues to support the church development and the GCC has felt led to support us further. We praise God for the generous hearts of our local brothers and sisters in Christ as well as the greater collection of our churches!
Over the next 2 years we are praying that Parry Sound can become financially sustainable so that we can be a church location that is no longer in the "church planting" phase, but rather, ready to partner and support future church plants like ours!
Moving into 2021, we see a need to distinguish Harvest Church more in what makes us “distinct” as a church in order to promote unity and make sure theologically we are all on the same page. This will be evident in the doctrinal positional paper we are working towards as well as other issues which make up the DNA of our church. Pray for us as we navigate through these.
As elders we have completed a doctrinal statement on discipline which can be found here.
We encourage you to speak with one of our elders if you have any questions or concerns about this particular doctrinal statement.
Deacon of Care:
Deacon of Care is a relatively new position within Harvest Church. The deacon of care will assist the church by praying and caring for those who put in prayer requests but also visiting those who are in the hospital (when able to do so) and working at times closely with the Deacon of Benevolence to show the love of Christ in practical and thoughtful ways.
Chuck Payne was just recently installed as the Deacon of Care for our Bracebridge location and we are currently pursuing someone for our Huntsville location.
As many of you know Gary Webster has served faithfully in this role for many years now. Gary will be focusing his efforts as he continues to lead our Executive Support Team and therefore transitioning the role of Treasurer to Jesse DeRoy who will be our new Treasurer come 2021.
Please continue to pray for all your church leaders as they press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!
Together on this amazing mission,
The Elders of Harvest Church
The 2020 Wilderness
The part of Scripture that seems to sum up a lot of what this season feels like is the “wilderness wandering” of the Israelites as, for many, 2020 is a God-ordained time of struggle, barrenness, isolation, and deprivation.
Because we believe that nothing is outside of God’s sovereign care (even this “wilderness season”) we can ask: “God, what are you up to as you lead us into this time of wilderness?”
In Deuteronomy, Moses gives us some insight into how we can approach this question (it was also the same text that Jesus turned to in his own wilderness experience):
GOD REVEALS OUR HEARTS.
God uses the wilderness to show “what is in our hearts” and reveal the extent of our worship and obedience. Reading through Scripture we see where the Israelites’ hearts were laid bare in the wilderness as they turned to grumbling and complaining and seeking after idols.
What has 2020 revealed in your heart?
Has this wilderness revealed where comfort or personal preference is a higher priority than you had thought?
Has the wilderness revealed grumbling and complaining?
Has it revealed any idols?
A great way to have God do a deeper work through this season is to lean into Him and ask the 1st question this way:
Let this be a time for us to take a humble and honest look at what really matters.
Has a mask, or a longer drive, or the ease of just staying home on a Sunday morning changed the priority of corporate worship in your life? Have you found yourself less on mission with the gospel and more huddled up and hiding out?
During this difficult season, the prayer of our Elder Team has been this
Jesus is better
than any trial that comes
or any blessing this world can ever offer.”
In the days and weeks and months of this COVID season, our hearts as a church have definitely been tested. Do we really believe that Jesus is better in this season? Even in the struggles? Better than the comfort we may seek? Better than the sin we may often run to?
May our friends and neighbours see the reality that Jesus is truly better in the midst of the struggles that COVID has caused and that it will take more than a mask or a longer drive to stop us from gathering to worship or live our lives on mission!
Even as God reveals our hearts, we are so thankful for His grace shown in Christ -- when our faith fails and our worship is weak, God is greater than our hearts! We can confess our sin and weakness and ask Him for the faith to submit to whatever wilderness He ordains for our good and for His glory. And that’s a prayer He loves to answer.
What Is Church In This Next Season?
To determine what church will look like in light of so many changing restrictions, as elders, we are praying for greater wisdom through time in God’s Word, prayer, fasting, and with the counsel of other godly and wise people.
In all of this, we affirm that Jesus is not stepping off of His throne to pace back in forth in Heaven saying, "Well this COVID19 changes everything!" Jesus established the Church once and for all and will continue to build it until He returns for His bride.
It is first important to have a good biblical definition of "the church":
"Church is a local group of Christians who regularly gather in Christ's name and officially affirm and oversee one another's membership in Jesus Christ and his kingdom through gospel preaching and gospel ordinances and then go out together on gospel mission."
Some have found it helpful to use the analogy of a sports team. The stadium is not the definition of the team just as the building does not define a church. You are defined by the gathered group.
In saying that, the team is still a team when they’re not gathered. As the athletes drive separately to the stadium in their cars, they are still a team. During the shutdown, each team was not gathered for months and yet they were all still a team. But if they never, or rarely, gathered together it would be hard to envision much of a team left.
For a season we were not able to physically gather as the church. This was not easy and we definitely saw the impact of too long of a time without gathering: relationships grew distant, shared growth under the Word diminished, and eventually, if we continued to not gather, it would be hard to envision much of a church left. And so we are boldly calling those who can, to come back to regather to worship, grow in community, and be sent out on mission.
Since the lockdown was lifted at the end of June we have started to get back to gathering together. It has been so good to be together, although we understand that there are still things we are prayerfully working hard to figure out in this season:
- how to gather with only two physical locations available (Huntsville and Parry Sound) and limited size restrictions
- how to provide Kids Ministry with so few volunteers
- how to have the Lord’s Supper and baptisms
- how to gather in Small Groups, Equipping Studies, etc.
In our lifetime, gathering as the church has never been more inconvenient than it is right now, but by God's grace, for 2000 years, the church has endured pandemics, persecution, pestilence, and wars - Jesus was not surprised by any of it and He will continue to build His church!
WORSHIP THIS SEASON
IN-PERSON GATHERED WORSHIP
We are offering in-person worship at our Huntsville location and our Parry Sound location. As has been said, while we seek out another Bracebridge option we would encourage those in South Muskoka to take the extra drive to Huntsville until we can start up the Bracebridge location again.
It has been so good to gather together and be under God's Word together and to lift our voices in worship together. If you haven't been out yet, let us encourage you to re-engage in worship and the Word with your church family. We are willing to offer as many services on a Sunday that are needed! Click here to sign up.
We will continue to follow the protocols set out by our Health Department (masks, physical distancing, limited to 30% of building capacity, and disinfecting between services). Masks are awkward and even a bit uncomfortable, but they have not stopped us from gathering to worship!
WHAT ABOUT MY KIDS?
We also know that gathering at church with young kids is not easy. Here are a couple of things to consider if you have young kids:
1. We are SUPER gracious to parents ... a cry out, a giggle, a loud, "Hey Mom!" have been sounds we've become accustomed to over the last weeks of gathering all together in worship. Please feel relaxed that everyone "gets it" and are not annoyed but are, in fact, cheering you on as you worship alongside your kids!
Let us encourage you to see the amazing opportunity you have to worship WITH your kids! Stand them up on the chair beside you so they can see, hear, and join in as we worship together. As much as possible engage them in the worship experience.
You can use HKTV during the sermon by jumping onto our Youtube channel and using church WIFI to connect with a phone or tablet and headphones ... or you can connect with your kids during the sermon by whispering questions or comments to help keep them engaged.
Kids are kids and they won't always be able to be still for an entire 30-40 minute sermon ... and that's okay! They can, at the same time, be hugely impacted by worship and surprise us with what they've learned or discerned!
So don't worry if they squirm! There's something about child-like faith that God seeks and loves - "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs." (Matthew 19:14). And maybe there's something we can learn from our kids during worship too. There is nothing like hearing your kids sing praise
2. We are slowly opening up our HK Ministry. Details for which classrooms are opening will be sent out over social media and our E-News.
AT HOME GATHERED WORSHIP
Knowing that there are brothers and sisters in our church who cannot gather in a large group due to different concerns over COVID19, we will continue to offer Online Worship. In fact, starting this Sunday we will be moving away from a pre-recorded service to live-streaming our services.
Here is our heart for those who cannot gather on a Sunday:
If possible, consider inviting another family, who you feel safe being in close contact with, to worship with you. Reach out to us if you need help to find a smaller "At Home Gathered Worship" option.
We have heard great stories of people with health concerns gathering with one or two other families on a Sunday for worship and great discussion and prayer after.
Church Location Updates
In Parry Sound we officially launched out and celebrated our new church building on Sunday Sept 13th!
Celebration Sunday was an amazing morning of worship, fellowship and giving God all the glory for the miracle of His provision. Thank-you to all of you who have given so generously to see the Lord’s mission accomplished.
Pastor Godfrey and Chris Somers were able to give an update on the current progress of the building and the outstanding needs to bring it about to completion. There was also an update on The Market, Harvest Kids and the beginning of Harvest Youth in Parry Sound as part of that Celebration Service.
The video clip from that service can be watched here
The current needs and status of the building project along with the funds raised can be found by visiting myharvestchurch.ca/1mcmurray
The Market ministry has transitioned from doorstep delivery of meals to people picking up food and items at our church door. Please be in prayer as we seek to meet the needs of those in our town and for the direction of this Ministry as we consider how and when to grow this ministry with further initiatives. Over the last few weeks, we have had new people attend our church on a Sunday morning as a direct result of The Market ministry.
We were immensely blessed by the outside services held at the Bracebridge Fair Grounds. It was the first time since COVID began that we were able to have live worship. On August 30th Harvest held 4 services with 100 people attending each service – praise God!
Please pray with us as we are pursuing meeting space options for Bracebridge. Besides our Elders and our Bracebridge Leadership Team, we also have a couple of groups of people prayerfully working with the elders toward what God would have for us in Bracebridge:
1. Pastor Search Team
A small group of people has been meeting to help us search for and interview potential pastors to help with the preaching and pastoring load that comes with multiple locations. This team is going to be announcing some nights of prayer for people to join together and call out to God for His provision.
2. Building Search Team
A small group of people is searching for a suitable location for Sunday worship and weekly ministry in Bracebridge. Please pray with us (and let us know if you have options or ideas of spaces).
As we continue to seek God’s plan in this (and in the uncertain season we are in), we are being careful to be wise with our resources of finances and people. There were many lessons learned with the Huntsville building that we want to take with us in this next step toward a Bracebridge facility.
As we wait for God to open up some options, please join us on Sundays in Huntsville so we can be united together for the purpose of reaching more people with the good news of Jesus Christ! We don’t know God’s timing for Bracebridge but we will keep you updated along the way as we worship and work as one big united church worshiping and waiting on God.
As elders, we take seriously our call to watch over the doctrine of the church. Over the last while we have had a number of people ask us about our use of Bethel songs in our worship services in light of increasing concerns over Bethel’s theology, practices, leadership, and teachings.
As elders and pastors, we are encouraged by the questions as they point to the fact that people are carefully thinking about life and worship through a biblical lens.
Pastor Eric examines the content and implications of every song we sing – regardless of who wrote or produced it – as a way to care for those God calls us to shepherd. (Acts 20:28-30; Hebrews 13:17). In the upcoming months, Eric will be taking some time with other Worship Pastors in the GCC and with our elders to come to a wise position.
We desire to lead with humble, godly conviction. We won’t ever sing a song just because of its popularity – we will sing songs that are true and will grow us all in our faith and love and worship of God.
Katelyn Niemi has gone on maternity leave to focus on her family and the newest addition to their family, Jensen Syl Niemi born on September 2nd. Both mom and Jensen are doing great!
Future Staff Potentials
Be in prayer as we seek the Lord for what new staff hires we may need to fill. Here are the possible roles:
1. Executive Pastor of Discipleship
2. Another Lead Preaching Pastor as we launch out again in Bracebridge
3. Worship/Production Director
Discipleship: Missional Groups
Before COVID hit we had been doing a deep evaluation of our Small Group Ministry.
The vision of the Discipleship Ministry of Harvest has always been to faithfully encounter Jesus in His Word (WORSHIP) together in genuine biblical community (COMMUNITY) and seeking to put that faith into action (MISSION).
Our Small Group ministry has been effective in so many ways and yet we have seen a few areas that need attention:
- Small Group Leaders feeling wore out.
- Not enough encouragement/opportunity for regular “self-feeding” in the Word.
- Limited intentional missional movement.
- Too much focused on the method instead of the purpose of worship, community, and mission.
As we roll out discipleship ministries in the next month we are excited to see God use this next season for deeper growth in discipleship and a wider reach of mission into our neighbourhoods with the good news of the gospel.
We want to ensure that the METHOD of our Discipleship Ministry is never held on tighter than our PURPOSE. And so, we want to be sure that we communicate clearly our purpose and then give greater freedom to the methods.
While we will be seeking to support various Bible Study Groups gathering, more Equipping Studies, Men's and Women's Ministry here is a quick overview of the main structure we will be rolling out:
There are 2 main aspects to this model:
Monthly Community Groups
At least once a month Community Groups will gather around a meal. As families, one of the best places to engage in conversation is around the dinner table so, as the family of God, we want to provide a simple and safe opportunity for hospitality, fellowship, laughter, conversation, listening, learning about each other, prayer and care. These also become a place to invite the lost into community or to go out as a group into your neighbourhoods on mission.
Weekly Life Groups
Once a week we will have smaller gatherings of 2-5 believers of the same gender from our Community Groups who will “go deeper” through individual accountability and study of the Bible deeply and to know God more deeply and be known deeply by one another.
Whether people land fully in this model or engage in other options (Equipping, Men's, Women's, etc.) we want the focus to be raising disciples who "feed themselves" on the word, engage in authentic community, and engage in intentional/specific mission of declaring and demonstrating the gospel to people in their community.
Many more details will be coming as our Small Group Leaders, Coaches, Elders and Pastors continue to iron out all the details over the next couple of weeks. We will then provide all the finalized details and start to gather. If you are currently in a Small Group, many are still just staying connected as best as they can under the new government restrictions. We’ll be putting together a “transition plan” for current Small Groups. Stayed tuned and be in prayer!
A verse that has always been central to how we lead as elders is that much more important in the season we find ourselves:
"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12b
Please continue to pray along with us as we seek to see Jesus. The government regulations may continue to change and the coronavirus may continue to impact us ... we don't have everything figured out but we do know this: We need Jesus and want to glorify Him!
Together on this amazing mission,
The Elders of Harvest
It has been quite a different spring and summer than anyone anticipated. We have seen unprecedented events for us as a church and a community as our "normal", in almost every area of life, has been disrupted. Church has definitely not been "normal" but by God's grace (and an unbelievable staff and volunteer team!) we have been able to carry on as a church in Worship, living out uncommon Community, and being on Mission.
Church life has been different and yet it has been so good to be able to continue to lift high the name of Jesus in worship as families and friends at home, be challenged and encouraged by the Word, and step out on mission wherever God has called us. The church has not been stopped!
We are so thankful for how God continues to work in our hearts even in the midst of COVID19. For many, the first weeks of lockdown were an opportunity to spend valuable time with family, root out idols that were always there but not easily identified because of the busyness of life, and grow deeper in our relationship with Christ as He led us beside still waters in the midst of the chaos happening all around us.
In shepherding our church during this time, our elders wanted to make sure of two things: (1) our people were well cared for; and (2) our people were continuing to put their hope and trust in Christ regardless of the season. Each elder was given a list of members and attendees not currently in a Small Group to be able to connect with them, pray with them, see if the church could do anything to care for them, and to encourage them to get plugged into a Small Group as the most practical way for the body of Christ to care for one another (especially during this time).
We were greatly blessed to get to speak to so many and hear how God is at work and to hear of so many who are eager to help out in any way possible.
While we miss gathering together, we are grateful for technology such as Zoom and our “Worship at Home” and HKTV ministry. And now, even as we are able to meet at 30% capacity in the Huntsville building, we still see miss the full worship experience, an active Harvest Kids Ministry, and the opportunity to hug, shake hands and connect with everyone. In saying that, as we connected with people in our church these things were clearly heard over and over again:
- Our God provides for and protects His people.
- His faithfulness and steadfast love abound in our church.
- As believers, we long to gather together to lift high the name of Jesus and fellowship with one another.
COVID 19 UPDATE
Starting this week, the government is supporting new COVID19 regulations requiring us all to wear masks as we gather together for "In-Person Worship" in the building. We know that there may be some of you who have been enjoying "In-Person Worship" who, due to medical reasons, cannot wear a mask so we are thankful for our "Worship at Home" ministry for you to continue to be able to worship at home. We also know that this news has been a welcome announcement for those of you who were not attending because masks were not mandatory.
A video announcement will be coming out this week from our staff to give all the details regarding these new regulations.
Thank you for being a church so full of grace as we walk through these confusing times. And thank you for being an example of those who walk in love for their neighbours, rest in faith in God's sovereign rule and live out a joy that a virus or a mask can't take away!
A lot has been happening with our staff during this season.
We were saddened that COVID19 made it impossible to be together on a Sunday to pray over and show our appreciation for Jon and Summer and their family as he moved on this past March from serving as ourDiscipleship Pastor.
Jon gave his whole heart to the ministry here at Harvest and many were blessed greatly by his life and work. While we weren't able to bless them with a Sunday send-off, we were able to give them some added time off for rest and renewal, a financial gift to say thank you, and put together a video from staff, elders, Small Group Leaders and Coaches letting them know how much we love them and are thankful for the time God had them here with us.
Jon started a new role as the Senior Pastor of Lambton Baptist Church just south of Sarnia. We are praying for the Fitters and cheering them on in this new exciting season!
Bob has been slowly working toward retirement and has decided that this season is the best time for him to fully retire from his role asPastor of Care and Connections.
Harvest has been greatly blessed by Bob and Jolanda from very early on in the life of our church. They have served so faithfully as volunteers and, for the last number of years, on staff.
Again, we are saddened to not be able to have a Sunday together with them to properly thank them, but are anticipating a day soon when we will all be together again. We blessed them with a financial gift and encourage you to reach out with a word of thanks or encouragement.
Bob and Jolanda are building a home to retire right here in Muskoka so will continue to be an integral part of our church family.
Katelyn is soon taking maternity leave. We are not going to fill her role during this COVID season as no Harvest Kids onsite ministry means that we can accomplish everything we need to do in HK with the current staffing and volunteers. We are incredibly thankful for Katelyn and the work and heart she has poured into HK and we are praying for the Niemi's as they soon add another little one to their family!
The Existing Staff Team:
We have been blessed to see our existing staff and key volunteers step into this season with joy and passion for the mission. Our staff have taken on extra roles or different roles in order for us to accomplish what we've been called to as a church with less staff and during these difficult days of COVID shutdown/regulations. We have seen some great volunteers step up into key roles (Jeff Spence has been amazing to step in as a volunteer to keep a steady hand on our Small Group ministry!) and we have been so encouraged by the number of people ready to serve wherever there is a need!
We continue to lift up the staff in prayer and are so thankful that there is a great unity and joy amongst them as they are lean into the Lord together for His strength and all for His glory.
With all the added work of video production, Eric and Marshal have been putting in an immense amount of extra work. In light of the fact that we are going to continue to offer both "Worship at Home"AND"In-Person Worship," we have just hired Jesse Ricottone as ourProduction Assistant for a short contract position while looking to maybe create this role more permanently. He will take care of all our video production and lead us as we start to create 'live-stream services."
We are also praying and seeking for how we take care ofCare and Connections,Small Group Ministry,and our 2 separate Muskoka Worship Locations. Please continue to pray for God's leading in this and we will keep you updated with any plans we have moving forward. The Executive Support Team (EST) and our Bracebridge Leadership Team continue to work closely with the elders as we prayerfully seek a place to worship in Bracebridge and seek the Lord for His wisdom, timing, and provision for any staff or pastoral hires for our Bracebridge location.
ELDER TEAM UPDATE
Bob and Roger are both taking a season away from the Elder Team. Bob has decided to step away from the Elder Team as he gets his feet under him in retirement as they also build a new home. Roger is walking through a family issue that requires him to be down in the city and give enough time and attention that he cannot also fill the role of an elder at this time.
Over the last few months, we have interviewed a number of individuals as potential elders and are continuing to pray and pursue what direction God will have us move. We will hopefully soon put names before Harvest Members to pray with us as we prayerfully consider who to add to the Elder Team.
We are excited to put Jay Brubacher's name before our Harvest Members to serve as ourDeacon of Missions. As you prayerfully consider Jay,here is a great article to help you discern, with us, Jay's calling to serve in this capacity. If you are a Harvest Member and want to connect with an elder regarding Jay, we will give the next month for any feedback before we officially announce Jay as our Deacon of Missions.
The article is also helpful in seeing how we search for and choose Deacons ... and to help you as you think of men or women you may want to encourage toward the role of Deacon.
We love you and are excited to worship with you all again. Please continue to pray for us and with us as we pursue our Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and seek to follow Him in all things. If you have any questions, concerns, or want to send a word of encouragement, email elders@myharvestchurch.
Thank you for your prayers, support, and passion for the mission God has called us to as a church.
Together on this amazing mission,
The Elders of Harvest Church
Good Afternoon Church family,
In case you missed this past Sunday or you were serving in Harvest Kids we want to let you know of some things that were announced as part of an Elders' update. We have a lot going on and want to keep you up to speed with some new things coming our way as a church.
HARVEST KIDS BRACEBRIDGE
This summer Melissa Simmons moved from a key serving role in Harvest Kids at our Bracebridge location onto a staff role as the Harvest Kids Director. Just recently she decided to move back to a volunteer serving role. We are so thankful for the work she did over these past months rolling out new curriculum and keeping things moving forward as we seek more volunteers. We’re also very thankful for her serving as a volunteer again.
Our Bracebridge location is blessed to have two of our key Huntsville leaders (Krista Brubacher and Natasha Ellis) move into a partnering staff role for our Bracebridge Harvest Kids. They will serve in this position while we prayerfully seek a more permanent solution.
THE MAXSON FAMILY
Ryan Maxson has served faithfully as our Deacon of Missions and Hannah Maxson has served as one of our Worship Leaders. They have felt a call to full-time ministry (and Ryan even left his job this past year to pursue schooling) and were trusting that the Lord would open doors. It is a bittersweet time for us as a church as God has opened a door! Ryan has taken the position of Senior Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Huntsville. We are sad to lose them, but excited to see God’s leading and are cheering them on as they move into this new ministry opportunity. We will pray for and send them off on Sunday, March 29th.
HARVEST CHURCH BRACEBRIDGE ELDERS
Peter and Beth Gibson are moving from our Huntsville location to our Bracebridge location so he can serve as an "elder on the ground in Bracebridge” while we continue to prayerfully seek out elders from Bracebridge.
BELIEVING FIRMLY IN THE POWER OF PRAYER
As Elders, we made a commitment to grow our prayer focus as a church. To help continue this we have asked Pastor Eric to take this on as part of his pastoral responsibilities. He is passionate to see our church grow in prayer and will give leadership to regular Harvest Prays nights, prayer before Sunday morning services and helping us grow a culture of prayer.
With overseeing two locations (you may notice that you don’t get to see him lead at your location every Sunday as he alternates his time) he would covet your prayers in this newly added area of leadership.
HARVEST CHURCH PARRY SOUND NEW BUILDING
Harvest Parry Sound will be leaving their mall location in 2 weeks to begin to meet at the new church location! Praise God for His provision for us to get out of the lease early without any penalties. As we begin to meet in the new building we are looking forward to an official public launch on Easter Sunday, April 12th.
Harvest Parry Sound has been hard at work with multiple work nights and yet there is still much work to be done to finish the renovations in time. To make raising the necessary funds more simple than donating to the ONE Campaign (which covers all three locations) we have set up a separate specific Parry Sound Building Fund.
If you click here you can give online or you can mark a cheque or envelope with PSBF to ensure the funds go directly to this project.
Finally, it was also announced this Sunday that Jon Fitter has stepped down as our Discipleship Pastor. You can read his letter to the church here. While this will be difficult for both our church family and the Fitter family we are praying that God continues to lead us and continues to show Himself faithful to Jon and Summer as He leads them forward for the next mission He has for them.
Prior to Jon’s resignation, we gave Jon an extended vacation as a way of saying, ‘thank you’ for all the work he has poured into this past season and to give him and his family a time of rest. So, Jon will be away for the next 3 weeks but when he returns, we will be blessed to give them our love and thanks and prayers with a proper send-off!
The Executive Support Team (Gary Webster, Lisa McMurray, Sandy Jennings, Peter Gibson, Kaj Ballantyne) are meeting this week to begin to put together a strategic plan for this next season. It will include a short-term plan for Discipleship Ministries as well as a long-term plan for the next staff hire. We will also be including outside assistance in the search and hiring process.
Thank you for your active engagement at Harvest Church - we are blessed by your sacrificial partnership in the gospel to see God glorified in Muskoka, Parry Sound and to the nations. If you have questions or comments, send them to email@example.com. We would be happy to interact regarding these or any other items. Join us in praying for God to do in our church and in our lives all that He wants to accomplish, for His glory!
Together on this amazing mission,
The Elders of Harvest Church
Peter Gibson, Adam Cormier, Godfrey Wilkinson, Bob Galashan, Roger Samuel & Kaj Ballantyne
As Elders we want to make sure we are communicating to you the things heavy on our hearts as we seek the Lord together but also the victories and triumphs we get to celebrate as a church.
In Psalm 69 David says, “I will magnify him with thanksgiving!” In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are called to "give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you!"
Today we want to remind you of just a few of the blessings we saw in 2019:
Our church supporting and being a part of:
- Children giving their lives to Christ through CEF’s summer program
- Christine’s Place and Hope Pregnancy Center both supporting and counselling pregnant women, advocating for life and helping to facilitate adoptions if necessary;
- Rugged Tree reaching into the Ojibwe First Nations in the Georgian Bay Area
- Pastor Omar and the church in Mexico City continues to be used by God to reach more people
- YFC in Ecuador (Abner and Aimee), The Door, and so much more!
- At the Wood Bee we saw two large truck loads of wood cut and split for firewood for those who are in need
- Short term assistance: food or gas bills, diapers, clothing, etc.
- Medium assistance: helping with mortgage payments, car repairs, building repairs, etc.
- Large assistance: helping families struggling with addiction, assisting with funeral costs, etc.
Here are a few more reasons for us to give thanks:
- Our Huntsville campus launching
- The new staff that came on board supporting the ministries
- Gary Webster volunteering to fill the role of Executive Director
- Harvest Mexico building a café to reach the lost for Christ
- Pastor Matt’s health and strength returning/Pastor Bob’s health and strength returning
- People coming to the Lord through Back of Beyond’s family fun day
- Our largest Christmas Eve Service ever!
- People being added to our church and accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour
- And again, so much more!
For February 2020 there are 11 people signed up for baptism and are ready to share their testimony how Jesus brought them from death to life! Jesus teaches for his disciples to be baptized. If you haven’t been baptized as a believer, we encourage you to take this step of obedience and share your testimony to family, friends and your church family. You can contact Pastor Bob Galashan for more information. Click here for more information or to fill out the online baptismal application.
Parry Sound Update
Continue to pray for Parry Sound, who hope to launch in their new building this Easter! There is still much to do. Please contact Chris Somers if you have time and/or resources to help them get ready for launch.
Please click here to see our latest financial update.
1. Our budget shortfall was reduced from $167K to $33K in December 2019 – praise God!
- Thank you so much for you generosity and partnership in seeing the mission of the gospel accomplished in Muskoka, Parry Sound and to the nations! Our monthly need is almost $100,000 and our December givings were $230,000 which resulted in our 2019 budget shortfall being reduced to $33,000
- We met and exceeded our budget needs in Huntsville and Bracebridge and only fell short slightly in Parry Sound. Parry Sound has been a "mission church" since we launched it and we have, until this past year, been able to support it with the excess giving in Muskoka
- Our 2020 budget needs to be realistic as our annual givings have dropped slightly each year since 2017. Unless giving increases we will need to find $100k in this year’s budget to be consistent with the savings we always need at the start of the year when giving seems to be down
- Please join us in praying for the Lords direction for 2020 in leading the staff, Gary (our current Treasurer), Sandy (our Deacon of Finance) and the Executive Support Team as they prepare this year’s budget
- Pray also for wisdom and God’s timing for future hires as we continue to rely on God for provision for our 3 church locations.
2. Construction Loans for $1.5M (short term loan of $400K and Mortgage of $1.1M) are now in place.
- ONE Campaign pledges will pay for these two loans for 2020 and 2021, after which we will assess how we pay the balance, eg. probably one long term mortgage
Thank you for your partnership with us in the Gospel as we seek to lift high the name of Jesus, boldly proclaim his Word, pray fervently without ceasing, passionately worship Christ and courageously share the Gospel with those around us! We pray that the Lord will fill us with the joy of the Lord and with His Spirit as we head into 2020. May your name be magnified Lord Jesus as we give you thanks!
Together on this amazing mission,
The Elders of Harvest Church
Elder Update: Finances
November 26, 2019
Our Members Meeting on November 13th was focused predominately on our Bracebridge and Huntsville locations, providing vision, direction and clarity for how we as a church body plan to move forward. The following financial Elder update is to communicate to all three of our locations some important financial progress that has been made.
As was explained at our All Church Meeting in June, the final cost of the Huntsville Building was $2.1M. We paid for this through a Construction Loan of $1.2M, two private interest free loans ($174K & $150K) and pledges through the ONE Campaign.
This leaves us with a current debt of $1.524M. Given that the construction loan has a high interest rate of 6.75%, we have been pursuing financing to pay the above debt at a lower interest rate. Praise God for our strong financial position that has allowed us to pursue traditional mortgages.
The Royal Bank was very interested in helping us out after seeing our financial situation and had an interest rate in the low 4% range but could only provide $1.2M. The company that holds the construction mortgage (CSS) could only offer interest rates in the low 5% range, while Kindred Credit Union is able to take the full debt in the high 4% range. So, our plan is to pursue the Kindred Credit Union.
In order to receive $1.5M in financing, Kindred needs the security of the Huntsville Church, ie the $2.2M appraised value of the Huntsville Church allows them to loan us 60% of this appraised value, ie $1.32M. In order to receive the $180K to get to a total loan of $1.5M, Kindred needs the security of the Parry Sound Church as well.
The financing plan includes a short term loan of $400K and a long term mortgage of $1.1M. There are 2 more years left on the pledge campaign, which has gone well as we have actually exceeded the pledged amounts.
This means that, if giving continues through to the end of the pledge campaign, we will have a loan/mortgage of slightly more than $1M as 2022 begins. This should allow the security on the Parry Sound Church to be released.
Work is continuing with Kindred; final approval is expected in about 4 weeks.
Thank you so much for your active serving at Harvest, particularly as we ramped up a new ministry year and launching out a new location. We also thank God for your generosity and commitment to your ONE Campaign pledges. We are currently tracking above the pledged totals in giving.
We are going to be sending out these regular updates with the goal of keeping you informed about various items under consideration by the elders and important happenings in our church. Here’s what is on our plate right now:
SUNDAY MORNING MINISTRY
We have had a great start to our ministry year after a summer with Pastor Kaj being given time away from the pulpit for some rest and recovery after a busy season. We have seen new families at all three of our locations and the Lord continues to draw people who have never heard the gospel.
The service times have been working out great for our two Muskoka locations. Bracebridge Set Up Teams have been able to do set up without having to arrive so early and Pastor Kaj has had plenty of time to be able to still connect with people after the service in Huntsville while getting to Bracebridge in time to preach. We will continue to monitor how this arrangement works out in the months ahead.
It was an unexpected blessing to have our permit cancelled at BMLSS for a couple of Sundays due to the labour strike as it gave an opportunity for our two Muskoka locations to be able to reunite as one location at our new facility in Huntsville. The Huntsville plant was blessed by seeing Bracebridge people make the journey north!
Parry Sound continues to meet in the mall while we renovate the new building in Parry Sound. We are looking forward to this Saturday, November 9th for a Men’s Breakfast for all three locations to then spend the rest of the day working at the Parry Sound Church building. The renovation has been moving along slowly as finances and workers are available.
BRACEBRIDGE KIDS MINISTRY
An area of great concern for our Sunday Morning Ministry is our Bracebridge Kids Ministry. We have had to regularly close down kid’s rooms due to a shortage of servers. This has meant turning away kids from families (many visiting for the first time) who then turn around as a family and leave – unable to worship and sit under the Word.
Please pray with us for more people to step up into this need for our Bracebridge location to be able to continue to minister to families. If you currently don’t serve, please consider this a great opportunity for you to partner with the church in reaching new people with the gospel and caring for those in your church family.
We have been praying for and with Matt through his whole journey and are praising God for His grace in the suffering and His grace in the recovery. Matt is now on a “back to work plan” from his doctors which will allow him to begin working on a limited basis. His doctors have cleared him for a couple of days a week in the Huntsville offices (due to the elevator) providing leadership again for our Soul Care Ministry from a high level. As his mind continues to recover, he will slowly move back into counseling and adding more days.
We are excited to have our new Youth Director, Marshal Burnham finally here! It was a prayerful process in seeking out a new long-term Youth Director and we believe that the Lord brought us Marshal.
Marshal has worked with the Salvation Army in London, ON caring for the homeless. He then spent a decade as a Behavioural Counselor for youth in the jail system and in a Section 21 school. He also served as the Youth Director at West Park Baptist Church before moving to the Yukon as a Regional Housing Manager and MTO manager. Marshal then moved back to London to work in the Housing Division where he specialized in files that were victims of Human Trafficking and Refugee assault, as well as women and children in domestic abuse situations.
Marshal is a gifted communicator, an author, a visionary leader and has a huge heart for discipleship and leading our students on mission for Christ.
Please pray for Marshal and Megan and their 3 kids (Kezzie, Zoey and Beaux … as well as one on the way!) as Marshal steps in to provide leadership for our Student Ministries.
We also want to thank Pastor Jon for stepping in to lead our Jr. High Ministry and Pastor Kaj and Libby for stepping in to lead our Sr. High Ministries while we were waiting for Marshal to arrive.
Charity has been serving as our Kids Coordinator and Admin Assistant in Parry Sound but is looking to step away from working to be with her family. Pray with us as we search for someone to fill that role in Parry Sound.
Gary Webster has been a phenomenal blessing volunteering full time as our Executive Director. Part of his responsibilities have included acting as our Treasurer. Gary sees his strengths being be better utilized as an Executive Director by having someone with a greater financial background (accounting, not for profit bookkeeping, etc.) stepping into the role of Treasurer. We’re actively pursuing people for this role.
SEEKING MORE ELDERS
With the launching of our Huntsville Location we are looking to add to our Elder team. As of now we do not have any Elders from the South Muskoka area nor Parry Sound and so are praying for God to raise up the right people to step into this role.
Part of the Elder process will include a season of development for those who sense God’s calling to this role. Depending on your experience the development process will include doctrine, servant leadership and godly character.
If you have a desire for this ministry please reach out to one of our elders to begin the process or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DETAILS ABOUT BEING AN ELDER AT HARVEST
Elders carry the ultimate responsibility and authority to see that the church remains on a true biblical course. Elders seek to see that the church family is being appropriately shepherded, well fed through accurate and applicational biblical teaching and that the life and mission of the church is being well managed with the assistance of competent and godly leaders.
At Harvest, our elders:
- Guard the body of Christ against harmful influences, confronting those who are contradicting biblical truth or continuing in a pattern of sinful behavior.
- Shepherd the church by being an example and role model.
- Care about the spiritual and physical well-being of congregants; pray regularly for the sick.
- Oversee all three locations together as an Elder team and also (when enough Elders are in place) provide specific oversight and care of the church location where they live.
The role of an Elder is to work in plurality with the other Elders to provide leadership and care for the church in Doctrine, Discipline, Direction and Discipleship.
- Doctrine – Elders are to teach, guard, and advance God’s truth by holding strong to the Word of God and calling our church to do the same. Doctrine is to be accurately and soundly taught and applied to individuals in ways that instruct, exhort, correct and equip the church to walk in the truth, focused on Jesus and illuminated and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Titus 1:9; Acts 20:28-31; Acts 15:1-2; 1 Timothy 3:2).
- Direction – Elders have a biblical and practical responsibility to provide direction for the overall ministry and the ministry leaders of the church as they prayerfully seek to be filled and guided by the Spirit regarding His will and way for His Body, the church. They are under-shepherds following Christ’s leading as the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 15:22; Acts 20:28-31; Hebrews 13:17).
- Discipleship – Elders are to be models and reproducers of Bible-centered, Christ-focused, Spirit-energized, transforming disciple makers. They are to be engaged as “shepherds” as they give their lives to protecting, living alongside, guiding and feeding, the church (James 5:14; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
- Discipline (Biblical Reconciliation/Restoration) – Elders are called to lead out in teaching and equipping the body to live in harmony and unity. They are to live and lead as those who help restore relationships, deal with sin in pursuit of holiness, forgiveness and healing, and establish ways for the body to grow stronger and healthier in all aspects of their lives. Elders will administer the process of church discipline in love and humility as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-4; Titus 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, and Romans 16:17.
Biblical Qualities of Elders
As well as fulfilling the role of Elder through Doctrine, Direction, Discipleship and Discipline, Elders are called to live a life of character outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-8. We evaluate potential Elders on “Four C’s” (Character; Competence; Chemistry; Courage) with the primary focus on the first “C” of Character.
- Above reproach—Elders must lead by example and demonstrate a lifestyle free from patterns of sin.
- Husband of one wife—Elders, if married, must be devoted spouses.
- Temperate—Elders must be self-controlled, enslaved to nothing, and free from excesses.
- Prudent—Elders must be sober, sensible, wise, balanced in judgment, not given to quick, superficial decisions based on immature thinking.
- Respectable—Elders must demonstrate a well-ordered life and honourable behavior.
- Hospitable—Elders must be unselfish with personal resources, willing to share blessings with others.
- Able to teach—Elders must be able to communicate truth and sound doctrine.
- Not addicted to wine—Elders must be free from addictions and willing to limit their liberty for the sake of others.
- Not pugnacious or quick-tempered—Elders must be gentle, patient and able to exercise self-control in difficult situations.
- Uncontentious—Elders must not be given to quarrelling or selfish argumentation.
- Free from the love of money—Elders must not be stingy, greedy or preoccupied with amassing material things.
- Manage own household—Elders must have a well-ordered household and a healthy family life.
- Not a new convert/not a new believer—Elders must not be new believers. They must have been a Christian long enough to demonstrate the reality of their conversion and depth of spirituality.
- Good reputation with outsiders—Elders must be well-respected by unbelievers and free from hypocrisy.
- Not self-willed—Elders must not be stubborn, or prone to forcing their opinions on others or abusing authority. They must be servant minded.
- Loving what is good—Elders must desire the will of God in every decision.
- Just—Elders must desire to be fair and impartial. Their judgments must be based on scriptural principles.
- Devout—Elders must be devoted Christ followers, seeking to be conformed to His image. They must be committed to prayer, worship, the study of Scripture, and the guarding of their spiritual walk.
- Holding fast the faithful Word—Elders must be stable in the faith, obedient to the Word of God, and continually seeking to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Demonstrated spiritual gifts and abilities as well as proficiencies acquired through training and life experience.
The intangible quality of being able to “fit” within the existing team and the “culture” of our church to help move forward with the mission we are called to together as a church.
The ability to lean into difficult situations to defend the faith and/or walk with those in sin or in deep struggle. It will be seen in the ability to speak the truth in love.
Time Commitment for Elders
- Elder’s meeting – every other week
- GCC Conference – once a year.
- Eight to ten hours (on average) per month for meeting preparation, doctrinal study/presentation, teaching, discipleship, direction, etc.
- If serious issues arise that require immediate attention by the Elder Board, additional hours may be required outside of regular Elders’ meetings and duties.
– The Elders of Harvest Church –
Peter Gibson, Adam Cormier, Godfrey Wilkinson, Bob Galashan, Roger Samuel & Kaj Ballantyne
The ONE Campaign Meeting on Wednesday, June 12th was a time of looking back on the mission of ONE Church - Three Locations and the Huntsville building renovation. It was also an opportunity to look forward. We looked back to see how we got to where we are today and in doing so we have seen where leadership owns both error and improvement as we prayerfully move forward.
As elders we did not provide clear communication, we did not have enough people in positions of oversight in the building process and we moved ahead assuming the amount of money that would continue to come in toward our goal of $3.5M over three years.
True repentance is not only just owning past failures, but also changing how we do things in moving forward. And so we are committed to making a change by communicating more often and more clearly. Also, leadership roles need clarification and leadership needs to be expanded. Finally, we need to rethink our original goal of $3.5M as a way to see all three locations having a place to worship.
At the Wednesday meeting
and over the proceeding days
there were some great questions raised:
How will you communicate with the church family more often?
Our COMMUNICATION PLAN will include the following:
1. Quarterly Member Meetings.
2. Elder Updates every other month on our website.
3. Developing a staff role with communication as a primary responsibility.
4. Monthly Deacon Updates (alternating between Benevolence, Finance, and Missions).
How will you update those who have given pledges?
Gary Webster is working with our bookkeeper to ensure ongoing updates being sent out to each person who has given pledges.
What is the plan for South Muskoka moving forward?
Our Executive Support Team will be connecting with our developing Bracebridge Vision Team to more fully cultivate a plan for South Muskoka. The plan will include a focused approach to reaching Bracebridge, Port Carling, Gravenhurst and surrounding South Muskoka communities to see the lost saved, the saved matured and the matured multiplied.
We are looking to get into the Rene Caisse Theatre as soon as possible while also seeking for what the Lord may have as a permanent facility for Harvest South Muskoka.
While we have loved being able to use the High School we realize that it is not a guaranteed long term solution as the school has the right to cancel our agreement at any time and we have a desire to be able to have ministry space that can be used 7 days a week.
For more information about our newly begun Bracebridge Vision Team please connect with our office.
What is happening in Parry Sound?
There will be details coming as outside donations are confirmed. Thankful to the Lord for His continued provision! As the funds arrive we will continue to renovate.
Are we revising the ONE Campaign?
The Elders and the Executive Support Team are praying and seeking outside wisdom as we examine what the ONE Campaign will look like in the next 2 years of the original plan and then in the years after.
We have pledges for approximately 1/3 ($1.2M) of our original $3.5M target - praise God! However, approximately only 1/3 of our church has given to the ONE Campaign. Is it possible to continue to hope for the $3.5M need being realized as the whole church contributes collectively, thus having the funds needed to move forward in Bracebridge?
With all this in mind, we are praying and seeking wisdom about the ONE vision, mission, implementation and timing.
Our hope is that, wherever we go with the details of the ONE Campaign moving forward, each church location embraces that we are still on a mission together as ONE Church in three Locations. As we have supported churches being built in Nicaragua, Mexico City, Parry Sound and now Huntsville, so we hope to continue to link arms as ONE Church for what God has for us in Bracebridge (and beyond!).
What is the plan for church leadership (clarified, changed and/or expanded)?
There will be more clarity regarding the roles of ELDER and DEACON.
We will be starting an ELDER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM that will commence this fall. It will take those interested in leadership through a rigorous training and study program digging into leadership, doctrine, church ministry, Harvest Church DNA, godly character, etc. More details will be coming this September.
Combined with this longterm Elder Development Program, we have been searching for godly, qualified men in South Muskoka to join the Elder Team.
We will be bringing on more Deacons ASAP. They too will go through a biblical vetting process.
We will be growing our Executive Support Team.
How can the church family pray most effectively for leaders?
1. Pray we keep our eyes on God.
King Jehoshaphat faced an oncoming force of armies and was lost as to what to do ... except to keep his eyes on the Lord. In any situation, this needs to be our hearts' position.
“For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
2. Pray we will not take a step apart from God’s leading.
Moses prayed this when God said that He wasn't going to go with him any further due to the people's idolatry. Moses said that he wouldn't move anywhere if God wasn't leading him.
“If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here.” (Exodus 33:15)
3. Pray we will not rely on our own strength.
Solomon with all his wisdom (he was the wisest man who ever lived!) said this:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)
4. Pray we will be wise in leading God’s people.
Solomon asked God to give him a “listening heart” as he governed the people of God.
“So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:9)
5. Pray we will weep over sin.
The best shepherds are those who genuinely grieve spiritual brokenness. Like Nehemiah when he heard about the damaged walls of Jerusalem pray that we are also broken when we see the results of spiritual decline in our church and our communities.
“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah. 1:4)
6. Pray we will know when to push away from the crowds to pray.
Jesus was constantly surrounded by ministry opportunities and yet He knew how much He needed intentionally deep time alone with the Father to be renewed for the work.
“But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)
7. Pray we will walk worthy of our calling.
Pray that we walk in obedience and bear fruit, just as Paul prayed for the Colossian believers:
“We haven’t stopped praying for you . . . so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10)
8. Pray we will speak the gospel boldly.
Paul wrote from a prison cell – his punishment for preaching the Word – that the church would pray for him to be able to courageously continue to speak the gospel. If the Apostle Paul needed that kind of prayer, we all sure do too!
“Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
9. Pray we will finish well.
Pray for those who are in leadership that we all can one day echo these words of the Apostle Paul:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7).
KEEPING OUR FOCUS ON THE MISSION IN FRONT OF US AS A CHURCH
THE LOST SAVED
and filling our churches so that we're
bursting at the seems
with brand new believers
changed for eternity.
THE SAVED MATURED
so that they serve and minster the gospel
as they jump on the mission God has called us to
as Christ Followers.
THE MATURED MULTIPLIED
as God uses us to raise up more disciples ...
all for God's glory!
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (JOHN 17:20-21)
We are excited to see God continue to move us forward on a mission to reach Muskoka and Parry Sound with the Good News of Jesus Christ. As we take these next steps of multiplying campuses we are calling the mission ahead, “ONE”.
Why are we calling the campaign, “ONE”?
The target of our whole life is Jesus. It is through Him alone that we are saved, and transformed and so our whole purpose in life is to be filled with the presence of God and live our lives for the purpose of God and the glory of God.
So whatever our plans are as a church we start from this place: Our purpose, our life, and our church is all about Jesus.
Jesus prays that, as we stay connected to Him, we would also be ONE with each other. Being ONE as a church is not optional. Living out Acts 2:42-27 (doing life together, digging into the Word together, pressing into hearts together and laughing, loving, crying, and sharing together) is the reality of Jesus prayer being answered.
The depth of this oneness is more than potlucks and saying good morning on a Sunday. Jesus asks for us to be ONE like He and the Father are ONE!
We will be 3 different church gatherings each Sunday but we will be united in our mission. It means that we will be a bunch of very different people unified in Christ (He is the source of this unity) and unified in our mission to make him known.
Practically, we will have one central administrative hub helping each Campus to be effective on the mission in their community. This shared resource will help us steward God’s resource most wisely by providing the maximum amount of ministry support at a sustainable financial cost.
Jesus says that this unity will be how the world will know that it is a work of God. Our unity as ONE Church will launch us in to our mission.
The whole purpose in this next move as a church is this: God’s will is that the Church is on mission to together.
When we use the word mission it gets it’s roots from the same word used by Jesus in John 17:18 when we says that we are “sent into the world.” Our primary role is “sent ones” or “missionaries”
Practically, it means that our comfort, our position or our safety all comes second to the mission. We sacrifice each of these for the cause … that’s what a mission is.
It will take a sacrifice in our finances.
It will take a sacrifice in our schedules.
It will take a sacrifice in our preferences.
But this all begins with ONE God. We can only sacrifice as much as we trust Him. We will be on ONE Mission as ONE Church when we see that it’s all about ONE God … it’s all about Jesus.
In the mid-16th century Francis Xavier wrote about the dangers as a missionary:
“The danger of all dangers would be to lose trust and confidence in the mercy of God. To distrust him would be a far more terrible thing than any physical evil which all the enemies of God put together could inflict on us, for without God’s permission neither the devils nor their human ministers could hinder us in the slightest degree.”
The greatest danger we face on our mission is not the loss of our stuff, our time, our reputation or even our lives … the greatest danger is to distrust our God. In fact, if that danger is avoided, then all other dangers lose their sting.
Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane a prayer of trust as he completed His mission of salvation … and he prays in John 17 that we would also move in our mission full of trust.
WHAT ABOUT SOME OF THE DETAILS OF THIS MISSION?
Why this campus model?
It is a way to reach more people more efficiently and more effectively.
How much will the North Campus cost?
It will cost a little over $2M. But we have the first $1M already donated in the purchase of the building so we are looking to raise approx. $1.2M (not including any gifts in kind).
What is the timeline?
We have been on a strict timeline since January 1st and are at the stage now where we have the finalized drawings and are waiting on a finalized quote for renovations. We also have financing lined up in case we need funds before our official fundraising campaign begins. We would love to not have to use this bridge financing, so if you are able and feel the Lord calling you to participate financially in these early stages to provide “seed money” you can give to our “Growth Fund.”
The fundraising campaign will officially begin in June.
Over the next few days we will be establishing a leadership team to oversee the construction, the financials, the interior design, etc. Our hope is to see the North Campus completed by late fall.
Along with this “build timeline” we are in the process of also creating a “ministry timeline” to ensure we have each of our ministries well prepared to move to serving another campus (raising up key volunteers and praying through any needed new hires).
What about preaching?
Pastor Kaj will drive between Muskoka North & Muskoka South so that each Campus has live preaching. When we find the need to move to 2 services at either of the 2 Muskoka Campuses we will re-evaluate the Sunday morning preaching strategy.
Our long term plan is that all 3 campus will have their own Preaching Pastor.
What about South Muskoka?
This fundraising campaign is not for the North Muskoka Campus only. We are looking to raise enough funds to also pursue a permanent South Campus facility. As of now, we do not have as much financial clarity for the South Campus facility as we are still looking for a suitable option.
What about the land we own now?
We want to be good stewards and use that land the best way we can financially. We may find that building the South Campus on that land is the best option. Or we may discover that it is better used by selling it and using the funds to build or renovate in another Bracebridge location.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact Jim Beattie here:email@example.com
As was announced early this fall, Harvest Bible Fellowship (the organization that we were serving with as a church) was essentially shut down and many HBF churches were moving away from James MacDonald’s leadership.
When we launched as a church nearly 10 years ago we didn’t plant with HBF because of a brand or because of a particular leader – we were eager to be a part of HBF because of the clarity, urgency and simplicity of the vision and the mission. So while we are thankful for the years with HBF, we move forward with anticipation as we partner with a new fellowship called the Great Commission Collective (GCC).
We are very excited for what God has for us in this new chapter!
As we move forward, what will a GCC church look like?
The GCC exists to empower the local church to fulfill the mission of making disciples in every nation.
This happens through equipping, training and coaching us, as the local church, to raise up pastors and leaders and partner together with other churches to plant more great commission churches around the world.
In the past we participated with HBF through giving 5% of our budget. This money was used by HBF to plant churches. The GCC will only take 2.5% and allow the local church to use the other half to help fund church planting efforts that God places on their hearts.
In doing this, the GCC is striving to move the model from churches supporting an organization that plants churches to being an organization that equips the local church to plant churches.
Harvest Muskoka, as a GCC church, will have at the core of this mission a conviction that a WORSHIPPING Church will be a SENDING Church.
As God finds worshipers who adore Him in spirit and truth, a watching world notices. This invitation to worship is not just an invitation to experience God’s presence; it’s an invitation to share His presence –worshipping and sending.
This conviction is seen in the 6 Distinctives of a GCC Church:
WE ARE A WORSHIPPING CHURCH:
- Fervent Prayer: We will seek the Lord, His Will and His way with hearts humble before him and confident in his plan
- Bold Preaching: We will fearlessly proclaim the truth about God and His Gospel by preaching the Scriptures in context with a dependence on the Holy Spirit to bring eternal life change.
- Passionate Worship: We will join our voices and lives with worshippers from every tribe, tongue and people to exalt Jesus Christ, responding to His matchless name.
WE ARE A SENDING CHURCH:
- Purposeful Disciple-Making: We will unreservedly give ourselves to the multiplication and maturation of Jesus' followers in the pursuit of Christ-likeness together
- Courageous Evangelism: We will invade the darkness of a lost world by proclaiming the truth about Jesus and demonstrating His compassion locally and globally.
- Strategic Church Planting: We will plant churches - irresistible communities committed to the worship of God, the making of disciples, and the sending of multipliers into a world that needs Christ.
We pray that God will continue to use each of us for his mission...as God's people, under God's word, filled with God's Spirit are humbly and desperately calling out to him...we will see God at work!
This summer it was announced that, with over 150 churches, HBF had become too large for a centralized structure (all the churches reporting to one church) and so a process was in place to regionalize the leadership structure.
As was mentioned in the earlier announcement, the Fellowship here in Canada is different than in the US as we are already a fully separate, autonomous legal charity, with our own functioning board. So while the Canadian Harvest Churches have been, in essence, regionalized for years this was now an HBF-wide change.
In this process of regionalization James MacDonald (the founding pastor and head of HBF) chose to abruptly resign from leading HBF.
So, rather than just regionalizing, we are joining a group of churches to form a completely new organization outside of James MacDonald’s leadership.
Please pray for the key leaders who are working to establish a new fellowship (tentatively called, the Great Commission Collective) marked by humility and the call of the gospel.
A group of 189 pastors and leaders, from 9 countries, representing 118 churches (including Pastor Kaj and Godfrey) are meeting in Dallas in a couple of weeks to prayerfully put together the next steps for what this new fellowship of churches will look like.
There is a lot of excitement for what God is building! Please be upholding us in prayer, as this re-establishing of the Fellowship is a significant task.
We will keep you up-to-date as more changes develop in the coming months.
Some FAQ's that you may be asking:
How does this affect our church here in Muskoka and Parry Sound? There is no effect at all to what we are going here in our 2 Campuses. Also, as the organization moves forward there will be the same deep commitment to the same biblical values/ministry model we had since we launched.
Will we be changing our Church name? There are no plans right now to make a name change.
When will more details be coming? When Pastor Kaj returns from meeting in Dallas there will be much more clarity. Until then you can direct any questions to Kaj or any of our other Elders.