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The Resilient Church in a Post Christian Culture

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By Mike Toth

Hebrews 12: 1-3: Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness (

The Nfluence Leadership conference was held at West Park Church featuring leaders from the London and St Thomas area. The topic of the training was “The Resilient Church in a Post Christian Culture.”

This first in a series of conferences held to a “Ted Talk” conversational style of presentation with an informal discourse rather than a traditional lecture. Time was taken between each talk for members of each table to discuss the speakers’ points. The six leaders gave their own unique view of the resilient church.

Charles Stone, lead pastor of West Park Church, stated that resilient churches are clear on 5 key questions. He said the members of the church needed to be clear on their churches vision, their churches mission (the “what” of the church), their churches values (the “why” of the church), their churches strategy (the “how” of the church), as well as their churches measure (the “when” of the church). Stone stated that if these are unclear to the congregation or are not clearly and routinely communicated the church cannot be resilient.

Rick Boyes, Lead Pastor of Gateway Church, stated that the church would be unable to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking. He said that resilience starts at the top, and that his church couldn’t be resilient if he wasn’t resilient. He delved much into relational resilience as a key, mastering our own emotions and keeping things clean with regard to wounds and hurts. He also advised to “S-T-R-E-T-C-H,” and step out and do something you never would have done.

Phil Prendergast, London Lead Pastor of the Meeting House said that resilient leaders call people into the awareness of their gifts. He said that his view was summed up in four words: “I see in you.” His vision is that a resilient leader leads from a place of love instead of fear and is a permission giver (leading from a “yes” vision).

Angela Mercer, Music and Creative Assistant at Gateway Church believes that clear, concise, and Biblically correct worship builds resilient churches. She said that many come to church on a Sunday wearied from a week in the world, and worship teaches them about who God is, gives them a language with which to speak out, and allows them into God’s presence. She said this is why sometimes in worship she will allow a five-minute song turn into an eleven minute song. She says that the singing both proceeds, and produces, change.

Jeremy Best, Youth Pastor at Faith Baptist Church in St Thomas related resilient churches to the waves he used to enjoy on the shore of Lake Huron in Sarnia. He said that waves come in sets, but for a wave to reach its’ full potential, the wave before it must pull back, and pass underneath it. As a youth pastor with the heart to prepare the next generation to lead the church older leadership must be willing to pull back in humility like that previous wave to allow that next generation to go to its’ full potential. Jeremy believes that to stem the flow of youth leaving the church we must invest in the youth, build with them by inviting them into leadership roles, and then entrust the work to the next generation.

Jude St John, Lead Pastor of West London Alliance Church, believes that a churches resiliency lies on its’ ordinariness. He believes that the church is most resilient not when it is inhabited with great people, but with ordinary people with ordinary faith living ordinary lives. He believes the church doesn’t need world changers as much as it needs faithful, reliable, ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God. He says that far more people have come to Christ through ordinary Christians being faithful than through any extraordinary believers.

If you are interested in future leadership training, you can contact West Park church at (519) 471-7460 or