At Cold Lake Community Church in Cold Lake, Alta., Christianity is not a spectator sport. The church is driven by a vision to deepen connections to God, to each other and to the wider community. Nurturing these connections requires everyone—young and old—to participate.
Once a month, the regular Sunday service becomes a Connect Sunday designed to connect individuals to God’s Word and to each other. Chairs are arranged around tables instead of in rows. There are opportunities for dialogue throughout the service and a time for prayer at the end.
“The last Sunday of every month we intend to mix things up a little and to be highly relational. Rather than it just be a monologue, we want it to be a little bit more of a dialogue,” says lead pastor Mark McMillan. “This will help us recognize that we all have something to give and also something to glean from others.”
Each quarter, the church holds an Engage Sunday. During these services, the focus turns outward to pray for and show love to the surrounding community. Each Engage Sunday is unique, but all of them serve the same overarching purpose.
On the Engage Sunday in October 2020, the pandemic didn’t stop the church from creatively blessing their community; church members encouraged the local RCMP detachment and visited Points West, a nearby seniors’ home.
“We did a performance for the residents at Points West through the window. We ran speakers in and our kids did a performance for them. Our kids’ ministry had made gifts and cards and distributed them to the residents,” Pastor Mark says.
In October 2021, the church held a prayer service for the community followed by pie deliveries to homes in the neighbourhood. The point of the exercise was two-fold: first, to connect with neighbours and offer a no-strings-attached Thanksgiving gift and, second, to deliberately push congregation members outside their comfort zones.
Some church members felt dismissed or had doors closed in their faces. Other times, people were receptive. For one elderly couple in the neighbourhood, the pie delivery was their first social visit in months and they enjoyed a porch conversation. Another woman received a pie and quickly closed her door, but came to the church later that week to give a $100 donation.
“She said, ‘I don’t know anyone here, but someone came and knocked on my door and gave me a pie. I was really quick about it and shut the door, but afterwards it really spoke to my heart. I was really touched by it and I just wanted to come to give a donation to say keep doing stuff like this, because it makes a difference,’” Pastor Mark shared with the congregation.
The Sunday before Easter 2022, the church held another Engage Sunday. This time, however, the service was focused on prayer rather than action.
“This Engage Sunday it’s not about just blitzing our community. Today, we want to take the time to seek Holy Spirit and ask, ‘Who could we invite? Who in my sphere of influence would You have me invite to Good Friday and Easter Sunday?’” Pastor Mark shared in the April 10 service.
Before leaving, each person was offered an Easter service invitation attached to a bag of chocolate eggs to give to someone they knew.
A month later, church members were once again equipped to reach out to others and encouraged to seek God’s leading. To celebrate Mother’s Day, women were invited to “receive a flower and pick up two to give away as Holy Spirit leads.”
At Cold Lake Community Church, people of all ages are developed to be leaders, challenged to grow in their walk with God, and equipped to participate in God’s mission outside the church building. Whether it’s conversing with others at a table, knocking on doors in the neighbourhood or expectantly seeking God’s direction—you just never know how you might get involved on any given Sunday!
Photos courtesy of Cold Lake Community Church.