February 14, 2018
Every time a new church is planted it's like the book of Acts opening up all over again...
Proximity Church, a New Venture launched in Ottawa, ON on January 21, 2017, began its first service by returning to Acts.
When Jay and Heather Williamson held their first service at the Holiday Inn in Kanata, their first problem was a good one: the room they were assigned was too small for the crowd that gathered.
After happily settling into a bigger room, Jay began their first service by retelling Acts 2, walking the gathering of just over 100 through the early church's first description. Now that Jesus had ascended to heaven and returned to the Father, what did the early church, the newly formed body of Christ on earth, do?
They gathered and as they did they were filled with His Holy Spirit.
And then how did they continue meeting?
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...selling their possessions and goods they gave to anyone as he had need... (Acts 2:42-45)
As a newly formed community, Proximity began by asking themselves: "What does it mean to be the church today?" Their collective responses were written on huge sticky notes and put up for all to contemplate. Even the children were asked to participate by drawing their understanding of "church" for young and old to consider.
Jay unpacks Acts 2
Reflections on "church"
The community's first offering was taken, prayers were prayed, and communion shared.
The stripped back nature of most elements (no mics, no soundboard, no power point) was a perfect setting in which to focus on what was essential to their faith community; Jay shared the story behind Matt Redman's song, "The Heart of Worship" as a reminder that above all the extra things with which we've come to associate church, the heart of our worship and gathering is Christ Himself.
Proximity is blessed to begin as an intergenerational gathering: young families with young kids; folks in their 70s-80s, singles, couples, empty-nesters, and a mix of cultures too.
Jay closed with a reminder that Proximity's heart is to keep things proximate -- close, relatable, intimate enough; his vision of growth involves dividing and multiplying communities, as soon as they are stable an strong enough to do so. Jay and Heather hope to build a community where Christ followers don't have much incentive to be spectators or passive receivers, but rather, they take part as active ministers of God's grace to all. A return to the Spirit of the early church indeed.
May His Spirit descend on them in power and ignite this new community.