Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Toronto (Page 2 of 3)

One Idea and One Resource for Evangelism

What if I told you that you could help us in the work of evangelizing our community? And what if I told you that it wouldn’t take a huge time commitment, cost you any money, or even necessitate you moving away from your desk at work? What if I told you there was a way you could be encouraged to evangelism and equipped for evangelism from the seat that you’re in right now?

I have both an idea and a resource that I would like to offer you.
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Good News for Toronto!

Some of you may remember that a while ago Paul McDonald was authoring a blog called ‘Good News for Toronto’. Well, I have some good news: Paul has begun blogging again!

His blog is devoted to experiences, questions, reflections, and thoughts on evangelism in the city of Toronto. It is an excellent resource and an excellent read. He has already written two posts this week. Here is an excerpt from the first:

Whatever happened to that evangelism blog? Wasn’t it called Good News for Toronto … or something like that? It was, it still is; in fact, it has been resurrected!

My last post was in May of 2010 (yikes! … it was  year of Sabbath rest!). Lots has happened since. Caleb was born (Dec 4, 2010) – Georgie and I love him so much!!! Praise be to God for such kindness to us! I served as Pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church for a year! And well … lots of other stuff too.

Something really cool just happened a couple of weeks ago. My dear brothers and sisters at the Grace Fellowship Church plant in Don Mills hired me to help in the work of establishing the Church! Georgie and I have long standing friendships with many of them so we are very humbled to receive this mercy – this opportunity to walk in the works that God has prepared for us here (Eph 2.10).

Read more…

I highly recommend you adding Paul’s blog to your RSS feed.

Looking for a Great Church in Toronto?

** Updated: October 30, 2014 **

Sometimes the assumption is that church planters plant churches because they believe what they will do is better than what has come before. Sometimes church plants do actually think their church is the only real church around. Sometimes church planters envision themselves as being the saviour of their city. Thankfully, that’s not the case with our church plant.

I’m so thankful to God to be able to write this post and actually have something to say about good churches in the Greater Toronto Area. There was a time not too long ago when I didn’t know that many great churches to recommend. Now, however, by God’s grace, there are many churches I would happily recommend in and around our city. Of course, there is always a need for more great churches and more godly, Christ-exalting, gospel-loving, church-planting pastors. But I think God is at work in our city, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Below is a list and a map. The list is broken down into different categories.

Our Church

Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills

I’m a little bit partial to this one, as it’s the church where I serve. Our church was planted in Don Mills in January 2011. I happen to love this place most of all. The people of this church love their Saviour. I count it pure joy to be one of them.

Churches with whom We Are Organically Connected

Grace Fellowship Church Rexdale

Founding pastor Paul Martin has served the church since it’s plant in 2000. I was a founding member and know no other church like this one. I was a member for 10 years and was pastored by Paul for 3 years before that. Since I left, Tim Challies has come on to serve in the full-time ministry there as well, and I recommend his ministry as highly as anyone I can think of. I cannot recommend this church enough. Sound doctrine, genuine fellowship, authentic worship, and biblical expository preaching. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this church.

New City Baptist Church

Planted by my good friend John Bell with the support and commissioning of GFC Rexdale. I’ve known John for years and still feel like I have much to learn from him. I’ve been blessed to watch this church grow under his leadership. You will be blessed by the teaching and the fellowship at this wonderful church in the downtown core.

Churches whose Pastors I Know and Trust

  • Sovereign Grace Church Toronto – Pastor Tim Kerr is one of the godliest men I have ever had the privilege of meeting. This church is associated with Sovereign Grace Ministries and is a Reformed Charismatic church plant meeting in King City.
  • West Toronto Baptist Church – Pastor Justin Galotti is a close friend of mine whom I highly respect. He is labouring to renew this urban church in a part of the city that is close to my heart (the West Toronto Junction).
  • Westminster Chapel – Pastor Joe Boot is well-known both nationally and internationally. The church has recently moved to the High Park area.
  • Grace Toronto Church – Trained and sent by Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Pastor Dan MacDonald is a gifted communicator, evangelist, and theologian. He has a heart for the city and this church has grown tremendously under his ministry.
  • Liberty Grace Church – Led by my friends Darryl Dash and Nathan Fullerton, Liberty Grace is a church plant opening its doors to reach the Liberty Village neighbourhood with the gospel of Jesus in September 2013.
  • Thistletown Baptist Church – Another church in Rexdale pastored by my friend Hassan Bell, who I know as a man who deeply loves the church and her Saviour
  • Covenant Baptist Church – Pastored by Chris Powell, Covenant just celebrated their 40th anniversary of ministry in the city of Toronto.
  • Harvest Durham Region – Pastor Ian Hales has been used of God to work mightily in the lives of some of my friends. I know him to be a humble, gracious, gospel-loving brother.
  • Harvest Brampton – A church plant of the Harvest Bible Fellowship out of Harvest Oakville. This plant is led by Chris Shippley, a personal friend and a godly man.
  • Mount Pleasant Road Baptist Church – Pastor Lucien Atchale is a friend of mine from seminary days and they are placed in a strategic location for reaching the city.
  • Harvest Oakville – Pastor Robbie Symons is a man whose love for Jesus is so evident and joy-filled that it is contagious
  • Harvest Toronto West – Another church plant of the Harvest Bible Fellowship out of Harvest Oakville. This plant is led by Jason Matta and launched in 2013.
  • Faith Reformed Baptist Church – I have known Pastor Brian Robinson for many years and have been blessed to witness his faithfulness in preaching the word and loving the people of God on the east end of Scarborough.

And the map to prove it…

View Great Churches in Toronto in a larger map

What about you?

What churches have I missed? Are there other great churches in Toronto? Anything you’d add to what I’ve said?

The ‘New’ Calvinism: Stupid, Salvation, or Save-able?

It is interesting to me that there in the last couple of weeks I have happened across several different takes on what is commonly being called ‘the New Calvinism’. The range in perspectives has been interesting to observe.

In one article, David Fitch suggests that the New Calvinism is perhaps nothing more than a new fundamentalism. It’s a place where people who think alike (and who alike think they alone know truth) can gather to feel safe as they exclude others in their arrogance. If this is true, the New Calvinism is stupid. Fitch doesn’t say that, but if that is what the movement amounts to, then it’s the obvious conclusion.

Another writer, Craig Carter, suggests that the New Calvinism is the best kind of theology, most ‘capable of sustaining a vigorous Evangelicalism’ over the long haul, preventing an evangelical slide back into liberalism. At the January Theology Pub here in Toronto, Dr Carter will lead a discussion with the heading, ‘Why the Young, Restless and Reformed will Save Evangelicalism in the Next Few Decades. From that view, the New Calvinism sounds like salvation (at least for evangelicalism).

Somewhere in the middle of those two positions, I think, lies two particularly helpful cautions. One is the video I recently posted, where John Piper warns the New Calvinists about ‘dangling, unconnected wires’ in their lives which hang between doctrine and practice, between the sovereignty being preached and the sanctification of those preaching (see the video here). Piper reminds the young Calvinists that while their ‘movement’ has the potential to do great things, if their practice doesn’t match their preaching, the whole movement will fall apart.

Just this morning I read a brilliant little article on a similar vein from Tony Reinke, called Young, Restless, Reformed, and Humbled. There we are reminded of the absolute necessity of humility (especially!) in those who claim to be Calvinists of any sort. To believe in the doctrines of grace, but not be humbled by them and your ability to live them is profoundly inconsistent. Reinke writes, ‘First, look at the depth of your theological convictions. Thank God for that–it’s a gift. Second, compare those convictions with the shallow daily decisions that are made totally uninfluenced by them.’

What I appreciate in what both Piper and Reinke are saying is this: The movement in and of itself is nothing; but it may be something, if we let the gospel do its full-orbed work of changing us from the inside out. If we are changed by what we preach and live like what we preach is really true, then maybe this movement is save-able. Maybe God really will use it to do great things for his great name in our day, in our part of this world.

That’s my hope, anyway.

East Toronto Church Plant

By God’s grace, I’ve been called by the elders of Grace Fellowship Church to lead a church planting effort on the east side of Toronto. I just posted this update on the church website, so I thought I’d post it here as well.

Needless to say, I’m super-excited to see what God will do to get himself glory through such weak vessels.


A Little History

When we were in the very beginning stages of planting Grace Fellowship Church of West Toronto, back in the year 2000, I (Julian) remember hearing talk of planting another church. I remember thinking that was crazy. After all, we were such a small group! How could it be that we would think about planting?

Well, here we are 10 years later, and I’m the one that the leaders of GFC have called on to begin the work of church planting. God moves in marvellous and mysterious ways!

What’s the Plan?

We are currently in the process of assembling a core group of committed members who will come with us to establish this new work. Our hope is to begin meeting together to pray and study the Word of God. We want to think hard together about who God is calling us to be and what God is calling us to do for the sake of his gospel and his glory in the city. We will continue to worship together at Grace Fellowship Church in Rexdale until we are ready to launch out on our own.

Once the core group is established, we will begin holding Sunday morning services in addition to the prayer meeting. God willing that will begin sometime around January 2011.

What’s the Location?

We are on the hunt now for a suitable place to meet for Sunday morning worship. Our target area is somewhere around the DVP / 401 intersection, or south, toward the city a little more. If you’re familiar with the area and know somewhere suitable, feel free to suggest it to us!

In the interim, we will meet in homes of families who are involved in the work.

What Will the Church Believe?

At the core, we as a church, will aim to devote ourselves to the teaching of the apostles’ gospel, to prayer, to the ordinances which remind of Jesus, and to the fellowship of the saints. Since the gospel is the power of God for salvation, we are primarily committed to the preaching and teaching of the gospel in and through every ministry and every meeting of the church.

For further statements about what the church believes, see the founding documents of Grace Fellowship Church of West Toronto.

What is the Goal of the Church?

The goal of the church plant is to do corporately fulfill purpose for which God created all people: To glorify him by delighting in him. We aim to do this, as the church is called to do, by functioning as a pillar and buttress of gospel-truth.

Want to Know More? Want to Be Involved?

Contact us! We’d love to have you along!

Conversations That Count

I’m excited about what God is doing in our city, in particular, in some of the local churches in our city. Below is the info for an event being hosted by Grace Toronto and run by the Ezra Institute (which is run out of Westminster Chapel). The event is coming up on Saturday, May 29 and will help us learn how to engage people in conversations and relationships that go beyond the weather and sports and get to the more meaningful matters of life.

If you, like me, would like to learn how to better love and share the gospel with your neighbour, then this is a great event for you to consider attending!

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