On May 8th, the Board and staff of the bridge made their way to Atlanta for the Drive Conference at North Point Community Church.  This is a conference for church leaders who are continually shifting gears to keep up with the demands of ministry. There were four main sessions with Lead Pastor Andy Stanley, and many breakout sessions that provided opportunities to dive deep into ministry areas that are of value to our setting in Markham.

We networked with others, got to know each other as we traveled together, and we worshiped with over 2,000 other church leaders from around the world. North Point’s passion is to be a church that unchurched people love to attend. That resonated with us. It was an affirmation of our DNA, as the bridge. To be that kind of church, we all need to share a passion for leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

As a group, we were affirmed in our discipleship process of “gather, group and go”, and the conference especially enlivened our passion for the “go” component. What if we were to see our “going” as our primary purpose and priority as a church?  It was inspiring to see how North Point rises above other churches.  It’s a church for the unchurched. Their primary identity is not the church gathered, but the church going…the church is preoccupied with those who are not yet in the fold. For North Point, it all starts there. Their gatherings (worship services) and their groupings (discipleship and growth) are informed and shaped by their going (building connections or bridges to the world that surrounds them).  Jesus demonstrates this approach in being willing to prioritize and purpose towards the “lost”, as illustrated in Luke 15.

Since the Drive Conference in May, the staff and the Board have separately retreated for a couple of days to build our teams, to think through purposes and priorities, and to begin planning for the next couple of years. Each leader is tasked with roles and responsibilities and is building ministry plans that will honour Christ, build people, and reach the unchurched or de-churched.

Here are a few things that we think we should bring to your attention…

This fall we will not be offering the Saturday night service.  The primary reason is the cost, or toll, on too few people.  We acknowledge that, for some, Saturday nights provided an alternative and convenient solution for getting out to a worship service.  Scheduling can be difficult with so many things distracting us. However, to pull off a third service requires tremendous resources. At this time, with what is before us by way of staff with young families, the expansion of our facility, the demand of two great Sunday services, and all the other ministry initiatives that we see unfolding in the near future, we need to focus our vision, marshal our resources, come together, and build cohesion and momentum.  It’s been great to see, hear, and feel the fullness and volume of our Sunday morning services since Easter. We will continue to enjoy this and offer powerful services to our community through the upcoming fall season.

We are in the process of looking for a staff person who will have, as their primary responsibility, the bridge’s mission to connect our community and world to Jesus, the life-changer. Jesus came communicating…we need to be good at communicating.  Jesus came ministering to hurts and needs…we need to be good at ministering to hurts and needs. Jesus came bringing hope and healing to a broken humanity…we need to bring hope and healing to a broken humanity.  Communicating, ministering, and healing are what Jesus, the life-changer, did. We need to do the same, with excellence. This is what it means for the bridge to “Go”, to perpetuate the mission and ministry of Jesus.

We have hired a new Worship and Creative Arts Pastor.  Jeff Boadway is wrapping up his tenure at Springvale Baptist Church in Stouffville and will be joining us on September 5th.  Pastor Jeff and his team will be primarily responsible for the “Gathering”. This is such a large team!  Pro-Presenter, Lighting, Sound, Service Direction, Stage Design, Vocalists, Musicians, and Tech are the teams that bring life to our gatherings/worship experiences. Through the discipline of the arts, we desire to bring Jesus and His teachings into perspective each and every week. We are excited to welcome Pastor Jeff, Rachel, and their three children Tessa, C.J., and Bryce.

We have just added a new pastor to the Assimilation Ministry of the bridge. We have asked Anna Anandarajan to join Pastor Karen’s team, to elevate her commitment to the Care component of this ministry and to assume the role of Care Ministry Pastor. This role will help us fulfill our vision for how people make their way towards full-on engagement here at the bridge.  Through these initiatives of care in prayer, crisis response, and seasonal groups, we believe we are able to bring the whole church to a greater realization of Jesus’ command to put love into practice.

As the bridge continues to grow, helpful adjustments are being made. For example, a growing community within our church is the Young Adults and Young Marrieds.  Paul Yoon has been giving excellent leadership to the Young Adult Ministry but has been communicating clearly the need for the bridge to invest a pastor into this growing group. Simultaneously, our Pastor Sam, who has given excellent leadership to both of our youth ministries, has been sensing that God has been leading him to discover some new avenues of pastoring. While working on his doctoral degree he has been focusing on youth culture and family development. Young Adults, and eventually Young Marrieds, have become an obvious point of direction and development for Pastor Sam and the bridge. It’s a fit! The transition is underway.

With Sam moving into new ministries and ventures, the opening in Youth Ministries has led us to a new leader, Roderick Cohen.  Pastor Rod will be joining our pastoral team mid-July. He will bring his own unique style to the youth and to the Youth Ministries’ objectives. He is looking forward to working with the existing youth leadership teams and to building upon their ministry foundations. We welcome Pastor Roderick, and his wife Hara, to the bridge.

Just over a year ago, Pastor Samuel Mills joined our team.  He has been bringing excellent leadership to our Family Ministries. He has also been warmly welcomed and appreciated as one of our Gathering’s speakers. Another area where his influence has been growing is in communications. Communications was a ministry that our former pastor, Brent Helwig, used to oversee. We greatly appreciate Craig Dickens, a fellow member of the bridge, who has been helping us bridge the gap, while we have looked to discern God’s guidance in staffing towards this role. Communications is a discipline that connects the dots for us. It plays a vital role in bringing ministry, direction, rationale, and purpose to our understanding and consciousness. The right communication leads to movement and ultimately to engagement in the goals and objectives of our church. Communication provides intelligibility (one of our values) regarding the church’s purpose and its initiatives.  Pastor Samuel has a keen interest and ability in this area, and will be giving leadership to the many talented individuals within our church who contribute to our value of intelligibility.

One last team and leadership development area that I need to make you aware of is the Building Committee. This Building Committee was formed by the Board for the purpose of working on its behalf with regard to building and property development.  Kevin Aide, a member of the Board, has generously responded to leading this committee. Right now, the committee is tasked with developing a set of plans that will be submitted to the City of Markham. The sale of the four acres of land for the price of $15,000,000 is contingent upon the plans of Andrin Developments (purchaser of the four acres) and our plans being approved.  Kevin and the committee are meeting weekly to get the job done.

Welcome to the Bridge

All right, I’ve shared a lot here!  Many great and exciting things are happening!  God is so great, so gracious, and so generous.  Please take note of the campaign/initiative that was launched this past weekend.  We are asking that, this summer, you would give yourself to prayerful consideration of how you will give and serve towards what God is doing in and through we who are the bridge.  PRAY. GIVE. SERVE. We are asking you to pray for God’s will to be done, to give generously towards the fulfillment of His will, and to consider where you might serve and find your place in what God is doing.

As our bridge family, you are an essential part in connecting our community and world to Jesus, the life-changer.

Thanks for being an engaged, essential, and effective partner.

Love and appreciation,

Brian Childs

Lead Pastor

Financial Updates

On behalf of the Board, thank you for your engagement in the matters of our church, whether it be in serving, caring, or your faithfulness to God through your financial giving.  Further to April’s financial update, I would like to inform you of the following.

We are now more than three quarters of the way into our fiscal year, and through your financial giving, $1,199,518 has been raised to-date to support the ministries of our church.  We are aiming for $1.6 million by the end of August 2017 and we want to finish well.  Our pastors and staff are looking to fulfill their ministry plans and to see transformed people impacting their world in Christ.  Thank you for your continued sacrifice and generosity – it is only with your support that our ministries can work toward fulfilling the mission and vision of the church.  Our ministry, missions and operational expenses are funded by you, the attendees of our church. Ministry objectives are in many ways defined and dependent upon the financial giving of the church family.  We know that it is together that we can make an impact and transform lives.

We are now two months away from finishing our current fiscal year and starting the new fiscal year. I would like to share with you the process we take here at the bridge to prepare our ministry plans and the budget that supports our ministries.

From May to June, our pastors and staff develop their ministry plans. The Budget Committee also devotes a considerable amount of time (about 25 hours) during the months of June to August to go through a process of building the church budget. We are very conscious that it is God’s money, and we want to assure you that the bridge leadership team commits to being good stewards of the resources we have been given.  We have seen God do so much this past year and we know He will continue to do so much more in the year ahead!

We recognize that some may be wondering about the $15 million from the sale of our property.  As a Board, we continue to plan in accordance with what was communicated at the last annual meeting.  The funds, received only when the sale of the property closes in the spring, will be put towards our current mortgage and the completion of the building project, with our overall objective of leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.  The funds will not be used for the regular expenses of the church.  The church has and will continue to rely on your partnership and support for its various ministry expenses and operational costs.  This includes the upfront costs related to the building project and getting city approval, in order to complete our part of the sales agreement.

So as we aim for $1.6 million by the end of August 2017 and finishing well, we ask that you reflect upon your giving this past year and prayerfully consider what your giving might be as we approach the summer months.  Please remember your church family if you are away.  The staff would be glad to assist you with the various giving options: 1) pre-authorized debit 2) online giving 3) assigned service envelopes or post-dated cheques or 4) stock donations.

We also ask that you pray for the Budget Committee, the pastors and staff, and the Board as they plan for the next ministry year.  Once again, thank you for serving God through the local church, and thank you for giving consideration to participating in God’s agenda by doing your part through your financial giving.

Thank you.

Jey Anandarajan

Board Member & Chair of the Budget Committee

Building & Committee Update

It’s the developed property and facilities of the church that serve the purposes of God through His people.  Together, we have a responsibility to make full and effective use of our property and building.

With this in mind, the Board has struck a Building Committee.  This committee has been tasked to work on behalf of the Board with our staff, our members, our architect, and the City of Markham with the present and future needs of the various ministries in mind.  We will be sharing updates with you as we move along.

The diverse skill-set of this committee includes those with engineering, finance, administration, and project management experience.  Each committee member has a history within our church and possesses the ability to honour the values, culture, and mission of the bridge.  The committee is comprised of the following individuals:  Ron Cariglia, Dave Chellaiah, Tim Jenkins, Neil Maskery, Kathy McKinlay, Winston Stewart, Cynthia Yoon, and myself.

Between now and the beginning of 2018, we will be working hard to translate the direction and vision of our church into a package that will be presented to the City as an amendment to the existing approval plan. As a committee, we will be working closely with Glenn Reinders of Reinders + Reinders.  Glenn was our architect for previous building projects and his company has been involved in the building and renovation of over 300 churches. Glenn brings an appreciation and understanding of the church’s mission and ministry to this project.

Designing a space that meets the varied needs of the church is a complex challenge and requires a lot of input. A well thought-out design incorporates mission, ministries, and methodologies that honour the diverse congregation that is ours.  Each ministry objective, age and stage of life, and OnMission initiatives are taken into consideration. Ministry teams have completed a “Facility Questionnaire” from our architect, which has been used to prepare a Ministry Requirement Log that further articulates their vision and defines their needs.  The Committee is now reviewing these ministry requirements and working on incorporating them into our future building plans. This summer, all of us are encouraged to take time to consider how we may pray, give and serve. So, we ask that you keep the Committee, the leadership team, and the church in your prayers as we continue to discern and plan for the future of the bridge.

Exciting days ahead!

Regards,

Kevin Aide

Board Member & Chair of the Building Committee

Ministry Update

Gathering:

  • 11 people were baptized on May 28 – incredible excitement and celebration.
  • Guest worship leaders are loving the bridge, and serving us so well.
  • Good Friday and Easter services saw attendance of 1250+.
  • Average weekend attendance in 2017 is 860.

Leadership Development:

  • 38 attended the workshop, discover your purpose: gifts and abilities.
  • Staff retreated for two days for strategic planning for ministry over the next two years.
  • The Board members retreated for a day to hone skills, consider the “essentials”, and to grow as a team.

Groups:

  • Did you know that groups are fundamental to the fulfillment of objectives for both care and missions?  Leaders have been equipped toward both in the last three months.
  • Lifegroups recently completed the fourth series this year of sermon-based discussion questions.  This was a big win for Lifegroups.

Assimilation:

  • 135 connection cards have been received in the last 12 months.
  • 80 people have attended discover the bridge in the last 12 months.

Seasonal Groups:

  • Six Seasonal Groups have been offered since the new year.
  • An entire seasonal group has transitioned into a Lifegroup – huge win!

Care:

  • Post-service prayer in every service has been initiated.  In May approximately 30 people were prayed for.
  • 25 – 35 Care volunteers have attended training since the new year.

Kidzone:

  • During March break, over 400 people got a little taste of Hawaii at our annual “Family Luau”, many of them friends of bridge families.
  • On both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, every age group had an impactful, interactive experience as we explored the Easter story. We had our highest attendance ever – 176 kids on Good Friday and 223 kids on Easter Sunday!

Youth:

  • For our Junior High ministry (Vibe), about 65 students, leaders, and LITs (Leaders in Training) attended the Junior High retreat at Muskoka Bible Centre.  60 high school students and leaders attended the FORGE Senior High (Fearless) retreat.  Several students came to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
  • In our Junior High (Vibe), 63 students and leaders had a blast at our annual overnighter at the church.  Many were grade 5s who were coming up to junior high!

Young Adults:

  • On Wednesday nights during the summer, the YAs are journeying through the Gospel of Mark to discover what it means to be “With Him”.
  • Over 30 young adults attended the YA retreat in June. About half were new to the bridge, new church-goers or grade 12s.  Many have since joined the YA, the drop-in basketball and volleyball nights and have gotten connected.

OnMission:

  • The Good Friday offering gave $16,341.80 to four community partners.
  • SHARE food drive brought in $14,350 in food – that’s 574 bags filled with 5,829 individual food items.
  • Markham Newcomers Network has launched two weekly Language Cafes, one in partnership with the Salvation Army.