Dear Knox Church Family:
“I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)
This past year we saw, in some literal ways, how Jesus is building his church among us. The physical renewal of our sanctuary remains a beautiful emblem of our ministry: a historically rooted community of faith, hope and love, ready for today’s contemporary ministry.
As we thank God for the past year of ministry and eagerly anticipate a new season of God’s good work at Knox, here is a promise to hang onto in challenging times: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
Do you know where Jesus made this promise? It was in an area called “the district of Caesarea Philippi,” which was a highly pluralistic bazaar of philosophical and spiritual expressions. In this challenging spiritual context Jesus makes his stunning promise.
The contested and challenging conditions we encounter in our city are nothing new for our Lord. Jesus can hold his own in the post-everything, multi‐cultural, spiritually pluralistic carnival of our day. He is not intimidated by so many different religious and philosophical claims. He is not afraid to speak for himself. And he wants us to not be afraid either.
The abiding promise of Jesus is clear: “I will build my church.” And he is—in Toronto and here at Knox.
This annual report is an account of how we are standing on that promise. It contains an overview of the direction for our church’s ministry in the coming year along with the budget to finance it. Having prayed and discerned, Session and staff have taken note of how God has set the stage for this next chapter of ministry. To quote something you’ve heard before, we believe we are ready for more. We’ve discerned God calling us to a season of growth and have set out a fairly ambitious goal: to grow by 25% this coming year.
What is the reason for such a hopeful, some might say audacious, goal? The reason is that God always does more than we dare ask or imagine, that Jesus is at work building his church.
We fully understand that only God can grow the church. And yet we also fully affirm that God graciously chooses to use us; we can and do participate in that goal. As Paul mentions in I Cor. 3:5-7, some servants plant, some water, but it is only God who gives the growth.
As you read through the narrative and numbers of this report, I invite you to pray for that growth goal like it all depends on God (because it does). And then I urge you to pray about how God is calling you to join “all-in” in this good work, sharing your gifts, time and resources. How can you participate in God’s work of growth here at Knox?
This is a stretch goal that will involve all aspects of our church. It requires wide ownership and involvement, along with the best of our prayers and energies. But it rests in the confidence of that beautiful promise of Jesus: “I will build my church.”
Your pastor and friend,
Rev. Dr. Phil Reinders,