Conservative Quebec Congregation Reaches Out Innovatively
A French-speaking evangelical assembly is thriving and reaching out to its community at the heart of Quebec. They tell their story.
The congregation L’Assemblée Chrétienne de Cap-de-la-Madeleine at “Cap” was born in 1947. People from Ontario sent Christian tracts and New Testaments to hundreds of homes in our city of Trois-Rivières. Missionaries visited those who expressed interest.
…more than 400 people regularly attend our meetings.
The ministry grew and quickly became the largest French Brethren assembly in Quebec. Our first building was a small “shed” on the waterfront which was later moved to a permanent location. Expansions were added in 1955 and again in 2003.
Today more than 400 people regularly attend our meetings. We have a healthy mix of young and older people from all strata of society.
Youth programs have been a key to our growth. We have two couples who are supported full-time to do youth ministry.
Gabriel and Mélanie Paquin work with our more than 40 teens and Adam and Anne Dicko minister to 70 or so young adults in our College and Career group. Another group of 12 to 15 younger children also meet Friday evenings. Kids are kids, but we rejoice in the level of spiritual maturity and commitment among our young people. We have baptisms regularly, and most of the candidates have found the Lord through these ministries.
Besides the youth workers, another couple works full-time in pastoral ministry, and two other couples are commended to various other ministries in the Lord’s work in the area.
Cell groups operate throughout the week, with groups that reflect geography, age, interest etc. Our young family groups are especially strong.
We have a group of seven elders that provides overall leadership. Training the next generation of leaders is a big priority for us. We invite younger men to share in the preaching time, and schedule them also to speak on Wednesday or Sunday evenings to gain some experience. At any given time three or more younger men are invited to attend the elders’ meetings to gain experience and test their call. More than 40 of our men and women are taking decentralized seminary level courses through our Assembly ProFAC school.
Music occupies an important place in our assembly. We have many very talented musicians, aged from 15 to 75, with about eight different worship teams that take turns leading the congregation. We have a good mix of different styles, and sometimes the older people sigh! The younger people have graciously accepted some general guidelines – the congregation must be singing, we have to understand the words, and the music cannot cause damage to eardrums.
And we want to sing the old “hymns” on occasion—preferably once each Sunday. Expositional preaching is at the heart of our public ministry. We are blessed with several excellent teachers/preachers, and on most Sundays you will find us working our way through a book of the Bible. We usually spend two to four weeks on each chapter. We take a two week break every six weeks for thematic teaching.
We have continued to practice the Lord’s supper as a separate service with the entire time dedicated to remembering and worshipping our Lord. We begin with a worship team that leads us for 15 minutes and then continue in worship as many spontaneously express their love for the Saviour. Because this is our largest service we use the basement as over-flow space to accommodate everyone. The worship team leads the basement group via a live video feed after which they also continue to worship spontaneously.
In many ways we are a fairly conservative group, but we have been quite innovative in outreach to our community.
We work hard on outreach through “Breakfasts of Hope”—a regular meal in a rented restaurant with testimonies and music. Our men preach regularly in other churches, and our youth groups often visit small remote churches to do evangelism and encourage the local youth. Some of our men do coaching with elders in other assemblies. Our leaders train leaders in other churches in counseling, theology, expositional skills etc. Over the years we have planted two “sister” churches, and we have twice adopted failing assemblies to try to nurse them back to health.
We are experiencing a real space crunch. Sunday school rooms, the nursery, spaces for youth programs, the main meeting room and the parking lot are all over-full. We are praying about expanding the present building, moving to another location and/or planting one or more new congregations.
Like all church leaders, we have our share of challenges, encouragements and joys. We are grateful to the Lord for His goodness to His people in Trois-Rivières.
Doug Virgint is a leading elder at La Assemblee Chretienne de Cap-de-la-Madeleine in Trois-Rivières which has a population of approximately 137,000. An hour and 45 minutes east of Montreal, this historic settlement (second oldest city in Quebec) is located where the Saint-Maurice River meets the St. Lawrence.
Originally published in Thinking Ahead, Spring 2010.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2010 Christianity.ca.