By Jennifer Taylor
According to Jim Tune, senior minister with Churchill Meadows Christian Church and director of Impact Ministry Group (both Ontario, Canada), the area is home to only six other Christian churches—and their combined attendance is less than 500.
So CMCC’s new building—and the more than 1,200 people who attended the opening services in March—is a milestone for Canadian church planting.
“Churches are closing faster in Canada than any other area, including Western Europe,” Tune says. “Church just isn’t on the radar. In fact, people assumed our building was an industrial complex or school because they don’t have an experience with large churches.”
The new facility, the recipient of Church Development Fund’s (Irvine, CA) first international loan, includes a 700-seat worship space, extensive children’s programming area, gymnasium, and more.
Churchill Meadows has quickly grown from 600 to 900 in average worship attendance, and the church is already using the building to serve its diverse community.
“In our area only 45 percent of the population speaks English as their first language, and Muslims and Hindus outnumber Christians of every stripe,” Tune says. “Two-thirds of our congregation is nonwhite.”
In response to the large numbers of people moving to Canada, the church’s “Amigos” ministry provides friendship, support, and practical help to refugees and immigrants in the city’s shelters. Although it began as a group of Spanish-speaking CMCC members, today the ministry welcomes new residents from every background; the manager of the shelters recently asked the Amigos to extend the program and offered to hire translators.
“The group meets a lot of needs,” Tune says. “Rides for someone without a car, help with a résumé, assistance in setting up a bank account, English conversation classes, temporary housing. We even have a team that will pet sit so a new resident can be at a job interview.”
Tune believes this ministry, as well as CMCC’s other community service and outreach projects, is a reason behind the church’s unusual growth.
“In Toronto there’s no ‘if you build it, they will come,’ for churches,” he says. “But on a typical Sunday we have people from more than 40 nations.”