During the most recent trustee meeting of the North American Mission Board in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Aryn and I had the opportunity to take a vision tour of the city and see how three different church plants were pushing back the darkness in what has been termed the most lost city in North America. Montreal is one of our SEND cities (cities that receive special focus from NAMB and church planters), and rightly so. The city as a whole (and especially the Old City) was beautiful, charming, and welcoming, but there was no denying the spiritual darkness that could be palpably felt wherever we went. I wanted to share just a few things with you about our mission work in Montreal and how you can pray for our church planters there.
- The statistic that stood out most to me about Montreal was that 0.5% of the population were Evangelical Christians (of any denomination). As you walk through Montreal, you get the impression that this is a very European city – and that comparison includes attitudes toward faith. There is a desperate need for more church planting missionaries here. Please pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers to these fields.
- Montreal has local laws prohibiting new churches from being started in areas that are zoned commercial or business. What’s more, there are also local laws prohibiting businesses from renting their space to churches. If you know much about church planting, you know that many of these new churches start out in such areas, renting space from strip malls, businesses, or schools. Clearly, these laws are intended to prevent churches from being started in this area. Still, churches are being planted in those areas, by the grace of God. As one such planter noted, the city is rather selective in its enforcement of these laws, focusing on Christian and Jewish places of worship while refusing to apply the laws to mosques. That’s not to say they will always shut down a church or synagogue. Again, the city is selective, and as the church planter further explained, so long as the city receives its money (taxes) and the church remains small, they will largely be left alone. As the church grows, however…well, the city will often try to shut it down. Please pray for these planters, that they can navigate these troubling and difficult ordinances while standing firm for the faith.
- There are some exciting stories of the Lord’s movement in Montreal. La Chapelle, a church plant that has also planted other churches in the city, has seen record setting and record breaking plants come out of it. Hundreds of people are attending these churches, hundreds of whom are not believers. They have seen numerous salvations and baptisms over the past few years, all to the glory of God. They have developed an excellent model for church planting, including leadership identification and development designed specifically for their local context. Please pray for La Chapelle as they continue to punch holes in the darkness.
- Our enemy is not allowing these successes to go unchallenged, however. The spiritual warfare in Montreal is intense. Before each launch of a new church, the pastor of La Chapelle and his family experienced very real, physical manifestations of demonic attacks. Satan will resist any advancement of the Kingdom. Please pray that those who are involved in this missions movement will be clothed in the armor of God and are able, through His power, to stand firm despite the attacks.
- Finally, one of the church planters told us, “If you want to see how you will be ministering in the US in ten years, come to Montreal.” That is very true. In our county, 67% are not affiliated with any faith, and only 14% are Evangelical Christians. These figures are in decline. Please pray and ask God to show you how you can be used by Him in a missionary way right here in our own backyard.
Just something to think about…