Canadian Churches Helping Canadian Churches
While most people skip past the introductions and benedictions of the Epistles, I’m oddly drawn to them. I’ve always found it interesting to see how an inspired writer would begin to communicate the God-given truth He had been entrusted with to his audience. There are so many truths that get missed in these overlooked verses, after all every word is inspired by God right? One passage that has always stuck with me is Philippians 1.
Most people jump right to verse 6, but verses 3-5 are just as critical in the life of the church. Paul writes, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Paul begins this letter with praise to God for the brothers and sisters in Philippi. While many theologians would say that the “partnership” mentioned in verse 5 is alluding to the financial gift of chapter 4. They overlook the phrase “from the first day until now.” So while this may include the recent financial gift, it certainly is not limited to it. This partnership goes beyond this recent gift and speaks of ongoing support, both financial and spiritual.
Chapter 4 verse 15 tells us that the Philippian church was the first to enter into partnership with Paul in Macedonia. So they held a special place in Paul’s heart as not just a missionary thanks his supporting churches, but as a church that helps churches. This is what the Philippians did, even sending people, namely Epaphroditus, to help Paul in his mission. The Philippian church had a passion for helping other churches be established and strengthened. What a beautiful thought, a church that helps churches. Our context of Western Canada needs churches like the Philippian church.
Canadian Churches should help Canadian Churches by sending Greetings.
One of the main problems that I see within the churches of Western Canada is that many do not know one another. Few fellowships or associations are spiritually healthy and so many Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting churches have decided to be on their own. While this may work in many cases, what happens when, like Paul, you need help? To whom shall you go and ask for partnership? Strangers? No, churches should know likeminded churches in their local contexts. Not just for their own benefit, but for the benefit of that other church. Imagine what God could do through those Gospel-centered friendships between churches!
Canadian Churches should help Canadian churches by sending resources.
The church at Philippi gave sacrificially so that other churches could be built up in the faith and others planted. They didn’t have a missions budget that was sitting with some extra cash in it. They gave up food, clothing, and business opportunities because they valued the Gospel and wanted to see it proclaimed to more people. Many Gospel-preaching churches are struggling, they won’t be able to meet their budgets, not for lack of trying, rather they will go far in the red this year. Some churches are dreaming about being able to pull off that big mission based event, but don't have the cash or volunteers for it. While other churches are either wondering what to do with their excess funds or have decided to sit on it “just in case.” Canadian churches should follow the example of the Philippian church and give sacrificially so that the Gospel can go forth all over their province and our country.
Canadian Churches should help Canadian churches by sending people.
Giving money is one thing, but sending people is another story, right? Wrong. The Philippian church, like many churches in Paul day, gave up some of their most gifted leaders to assist Paul in his work. There are pastors and churches who are desperate for someone, or even better a family or two, to come and help them in their work. This is the precedent that the Epistles clearly lay out, but have you ever seen or even heard of a church doing this? Probably not. People, and especially gifted leaders, are a precious resource in the local church, but think about it this way, how is your church stewarding those gifted leaders well by hoarding them rather then sending them? Sending these leaders out to help other churches does not need to be forever, nor does it have to be that far. There are most likely good and solid churches within just a few hours drive that could use their help even on a part-time basis.
So why not be a church that helps churches? Not just around the world, which is great, but right here in your city, your province, our country. We know there is need for it, so why are we not helping likeminded churches with this great need? The church at Philippi did, we should too. So let us be humble and generous as we partner in the Gospel together throughout Western Canada.