The Seed That Dies
As a pastor, I have been entrusted with the sacred duty of shepherding a flock of believers and guiding them in their spiritual journeys.
So it is with a heavy heart that I now stand face to face with a difficult decision: the “closure” of our beloved church organization. However, in spite of the heartbreak, this type of ending does not signify failure nor does it show a lack of power in the community of faith.
Within Trinity Life we have always defined success as hearing God’s voice and obeying it. We succeed if we listen to Jesus. We fail if we don’t. There were many times we heard God’s voice and some times when we didn’t. But it has been God’s voice that has led us here to the end. Just like a flower that blooms in its season and eventually fades away, our church has served its purpose, bringing beauty and nourishment to those who crossed our path.
The Blooming Season
Every church has a unique beginning, filled with hope, dreams, and the desire to make a difference in the world. Our beginning together was no exception. We defined the process as “Discovering identity and destiny in Christ in order to influence our city and the world.” Three initial families from different places in the world all heard the call to come to Toronto to plant a church. We each obeyed that call, met one another, and decided the wind of the spirit was blowing us together.
In 2013 we began our work in Toronto. We planted the seeds of faith, and watered them with love, compassion and boldness. We watched as our community grew and flourished. Trinity Life became a sanctuary where people found purpose, hope, healing, and the strength to face life’s challenges. Together, we cultivated a beautiful garden of faith and adventure.
Like a flower in full bloom, the church was vibrant, radiating joy and love. Our gatherings, far from fancy or professional, echoed with heartfelt worship, contextual teaching, and the unity of a congregation bound by a common purpose. Many of these times were fueled by faithful servants who first gathered sustenance (stuffed their faces) at the bagel bar before receiving the crowds who would come to worship at the large gathering.
We witnessed lives transformed, relationships restored, and individuals finding their true calling. And I’ll always remember the small crowd who would come in off the streets simply to eat breakfast and then return to their adventure without joining our time of worship together. Even those folks received the grace of Jesus–the grace of a meal. The church served as a beacon of light in a world filled with darkness, drawing people closer to the divine.
Those who called Trinity Life Church their home will likely be most proud of our community not for the beautiful ways we gathered, but rather for the ways we scattered throughout the city to engage. We partnered with organizations, other charities, community groups and more to bless our neighbourhoods and the families and individuals therein.
The Nurturing Season
Just as flowers require care and nurturing, the church too required continuous attention. As leaders, we devoted countless hours to tending the spiritual needs of our congregation, creating discipleship pathways, community partnerships, and fostering a sense of family.
We embraced change, adapting our methods and reaching out to the ever-evolving world around us. To those outside the leadership circle it may have felt a little schizophrenic at times as we adapted to our growing community and our context, but overall we had a singular purpose, the Kingdom of God. So we gathered as disciples to engage society and see the church arise.
Like all living things, though, the church also faced challenges. We weathered storms of doubt, conflict, a global pandemic and societal shifts that tested our resolve. We encountered seasons of pruning and growth, sometimes experiencing pain and loss along the way. We will miss many of the friends who fell away on the journey. These stories will be a wound of memory for us for many years. Maybe our entire lives. But through it all, we held fast to our mission, trusting in the wisdom of Jesus.
The Fading Season
Now, with a heavy heart, we find ourselves in the fading season. In acknowledging the wounds we have suffered as a community we have sensed that the Lord Jesus has given us a grace of freedom and care as we look towards a type of ending. But let us not view this as a failure.
Instead, let us see it as the natural order of things–the completion of a beautiful cycle. Just as a flower’s petals wither and fall, the fading out of the organizational entity that is Trinity Life marks the end of a specific chapter. But the beauty that our church produced and the impact it had on people’s lives will not diminish. The memories, the spiritual growth, and the seeds of faith sown within our congregation will continue to blossom and bear fruit, even beyond the organizational “walls” of this church.
The Legacy of Beauty
Like a flower that disperses its seeds to create new life, our church’s legacy will live on through the lives of those who were nurtured within its embrace. Some of these seeds will fall directly to the ground and be reborn in place. Some will float off by the winds of the Spirit and land in new places. Seeing the eternal impact of this redistribution should bring us great wonder and excitement!
The bonds we formed, the lessons we learned, and the love we shared will forever shape the individuals who were part of our church family. The beauty that our church produced will be carried forward, inspiring and influencing the world in ways we may never fully comprehend. Imagine the new stories that are being written even now that we will not understand for a few years or decades!
The Resilience of the Church
The fact of our church’s closure is not unique, though our story is different from any other. Throughout history countless churches have risen, flourished, and eventually passed into memory. But the church, as a divine concept, remains resilient. It transcends the physical structures that house it, adapting to find new avenues to express faith in Jesus, love, and community.
Just as a flower’s life cycle continues in the soil, nourishing the earth and preparing it for future growth, the church’s influence extends far beyond its material existence. The principles and values instilled within Trinity Life will find new expressions, new communities to embrace, and new hearts to touch. New people will discover identity and destiny in Christ. New people will begin to influence their local communities and the world.
In the grand tapestry of existence our church played its part by enriching lives, spreading Christ’s love, and igniting spiritual flames within the individuals who found home with us. Like a flower that blooms and fades, we have embodied the essence of beauty and growth in its season.
Now, as we bid farewell to whatever parts of Trinity Life as an organization we felt attached to, let us remember that our church was not defined by its “walls” but by the love it shared and the lives it transformed. Carry those truths with you. May the seeds sown within our congregation find fertile ground, sprouting new communities and perpetuating the legacy of faith and compassion.
Jesus reminds us of the natural Kingdom rhythm that we find ourselves in now with these words “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
As ironic as it may be, let’s pray we find joy in this death. I’m excited for the new fruit that’s coming for you, your family, and the new communities we will find ourselves integrating into.