Many people attend Christmas church services who would never otherwise set foot in a church building – and the season is upon us. How will churches host Christmas and Advent gatherings during COVID-19? How can we share the gospel during a time when so many people are ready for hope and peace?
These are questions Resonate Global Mission ministry leaders ask every day. And in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Holy Spirit is drawing people closer to Christ in new ways.
“There are different expressions of church that are taking shape by the community centered around Jesus,” said Sam K*, a Resonate ministry leader who partners with Trellis Collective. Sam lives in Halifax, where he serves as a community chaplain and provides support for grassroots ministry efforts.
In the neighbourhoods where Sam works, he meets people who are interested in learning more about Jesus and God’s kingdom but will not attend a traditional church event. Some people are newcomers from a Muslim background and feel pressure from family and friends. Some First Nations individuals have been told by the church that they need to lose their culture in order to embrace Jesus.
Some people have been hurt by the church. Whatever the reasons for staying away, many people are often not reached by traditional church ministries. “It really closes the door to getting to know Jesus more or meeting believers,” said Sam.
But the Holy Spirit has been at work in Halifax outside of the walls of a church building – even before COVID-19 restrictions. And this Christmas season, people are still learning about the hope, peace, and love of Christ.
A small group of people regularly gather together in a living room for a Bible study hosted by a mother and daughter who came to Halifax from El Salvador as refugees. “None of them feel like they can be part of an established church in the city, but have found each other in our home gatherings where we encounter Christ together,” said Sam.
While not everyone considers this small group “church,” Sam recognizes how this community of faith supports seekers and believers
as they pursue Christ.
“It came out in our Bible study that two of those among us didn’t have parents they could rely on for love and acceptance. They needed Jesus to be that for them,” said Sam.
The two believers shared what it meant for them to find love from God when they haven’t received love from their earthly parents. “And here in this home . . . it’s a refugee mother and daughter who prayed with them and continue to walk with them in their healing,” said Sam.
This is just one of the new expressions of church that Sam, Resonate, and Trellis Collective support in Halifax. Sam said these small gatherings have especially been helpful through COVID-19 restrictions because people can still gather safely through the Christmas season and beyond.
“The focus is: where is Jesus at work? Where is the Spirit dancing? And how do we join Jesus and form church there?”
*Because of the nature of his work, Sam isn’t comfortable publicizing his last name, in fear that it would hinder his ability to form relationships with new people in the future.
This article was made possible through a partnership with CRC Ministries within Canada.