Like for many churches, 2020 has been a year filled with changes and challenges for Restoration Church. This young church plant – located in the Galt region of Cambridge, Ontario – started the year trying to figure out where they would meet after labour strikes temporarily halted their ability to meet in a local high school.
However, as Aaron Ottaway, Pastor and Church Planter of Restoration Church, looks back at those times – those struggles seemed small compared to the changes that were to come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Master of Divinity graduate from Heritage Theological Seminary explains that though these times have brought challenges to this church plant, he says that this has also been a time of reflection for those in the church, leading many to a greater trust in God.
“Even though we acknowledge that this isn’t what any of us desired, nor planned for, we are leaning into God’s control and asking what God is teaching us and how is God changing us,” says Ottaway.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ottaway says that Restoration has been using many different means in order to maintain connection with the church, teach God’s Word, and share the gospel with the community. From online Bible studies and mentoring groups to connecting through social media for Sunday services; Restoration has continued to meet, worship, and pray together.
And, though he would admit this is not the desired way to meet as a church, Ottaway explains that they have seen God work in and through this time at Restoration and in the community.
“God in his grace has reached people that we wouldn’t have planned beforehand, so much so that we have experienced professions of faith as well as some desiring baptism once we can be together again,” says Ottaway. “This has challenged us, but it has also increased our church’s creativity and increased our reliance on God.”
As he continues to pastor Restoration during this pandemic, Ottaway says that he is grateful for the education that he received at Heritage Theological Seminary that has provided him with guidance and wisdom to lean on.
Ottaway explains that he has been helped by all that he has learned from the faculty at Heritage who gave him the opportunity to think through important questions surrounding theology, the church, and missions. For him, these spiritual and practical lessons have been important as Restoration continues to think through big questions in these unique times.
Through Heritage, he has also been blessed with a community of classmates who are also serving in churches. Ottaway says it has been great having friends to regularly connect with, supporting each other while they all face the same obstacles together.
“It has been a joy to discuss, bounce off questions, and just be a part of a church movement with fellow pastors that I love and can reach out to,” says Ottaway.
Restoration has also seen Heritage become a big part of the church family. Ottaway says that has been encouraging to have students from Heritage join Restoration and serve the church in a number of ways including leading worship, evangelizing in the community, and even preaching sermons. However, what’s been even more encouraging for him is how these students have truly become part of the family at Restoration – a connection that continues now and will continue into the future of the church plant.
“It has been amazing to see them become a part of the church and take responsibility for the people there,” says Ottaway. “Hearing their stories, their prayers, and also seeing them grow more into the image of God through Jesus has been awesome.”