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Royal View Thrives Outside the Walls of the Church
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Royal View Church is located on Clarke Road with a second location — downtown called City View. Pastor Garry Fess is quick to say: "buildings are where God's people gather on Sunday, but the true church is the followers of Jesus wherever they are — the workplace, the schools, the neighbourhoods and apartment complexes — God's people in the community"

At the end of each Sunday service Pastor Fess explains why it is essential to have no physical boundaries to the church: "We have gathered this morning to worship God, to be fed from the word, to encourage each other and now we are going to be scattered into our community to live on mission to be Christ where he has placed us."

The transformation at Royal View over the past nine years has been obvious . Any new program had to fit the church's philosophy of going to the city. It is a fluid vision with constant fine tuning.

"Ten years ago, Royal View was very program driven, it was all about keeping the machinery running. It became clear that if Royal View didn’t change it would simply disappear." Pastor Fess says" change dosen't come easy and some folk would rather continue with programs that aren't working . At Royal View we evaluated every program and discarded the ones that were redundant. We moved from being a program driven church to a people focused — relationship based church. We began to focus on reaching out and ministering in our community. The result was new life, new blood, youth and young adults, new Canadians - it changed the face of our church"

Pastor Fess referred to the book "Simple Church" as his wakeup call. The book guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required and that traditional disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart: Clarity — Movement — Alignment — Focus. This began the motivation that has become the cornerstone or strategy of Royal View and City View:

Connect — Gather on Sunday for worship and encouragement

Grow — Get into a Community Group where you can find friendship, encouragement, teaching, and prayer.

Serve — Put your life on mission — be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever He has placed you

Pastor Fess says it takes a strong team of committed people to move a vision forward. He is thankful for the excellent staff at Royal View which consists of himself as lead pastor, Dru Fess as City View location pastor, Jenn Dungo as children's pastor, and Sarah Montes as Youth pastor (EMG). The team meets regularly to evaluate and discuss the effectiveness of the ministry. They are always looking for ways to help people reach their God given potential so collectively the church can minister to the needs of people in the community.

Changing the culture did not happen overnight and Pastor Fess admits to there being many days that were frustrating - they took two steps back and one step forward. But the positive changes began to accelerate when he empowered and released others to minister. Pastor Fess said "we believe every Christ follower is a minister. As pastors we are here to equip and release people for ministry. It's not about us the Pastors doing the ministry, it's the people using their God given talents and gifts to be a blessing to others".

Community Groups is one way Royal View has continued to develop grass roots leadership. Community Groups focus on building community around the study of God's Word, prayer, fellowship, and outreach. They meet in homes, coffee shops, and school campuses. It is important that Christ followers learn how to do life together so they can grow in God and minister more effectively to those around them.

Outreach has become synonymous with Royal View — City View. For a number of years now the church has reached out to the community through ministry to seniors, adults, children and youth. The ministry to children and youth has been particularly gratifying.

The younger group is for the children ranging from JK age to Grade 5. It is interesting that many of these children and those in the EMG groups are not children of members of the congregation. Many find their way to the RoyalView and City View groups through the marvelous networking system that has developed over the years . Children of new immigrants are encouraged by other kids to join with them at the Royal View Youth Group (EMG). Kids also hear about the Youth Group from their friends at school and soon they tag along to be part of a group, "Word of mouth is the best advertising for our groups. We know we are on the right track when kids are proud to bring their friends."

Royal View also has a bus to transport the children which makes it easier and safer for the children to take part in the group meetings.

The Church is having an impact on the community and the network has expanded with local help agencies and businesses encouraging their patrons to get involved with the church Community Groups. Jen also has a Connection with Churchill School, a school with a need for spiritual assistance. Jen has ministered with staff and students developing specific programs to address their needs.

She gives an example. "A few years ago we were contacted by some of the staff at Churchill asking if we could help out. There were several children that would come to school wearing the same clothes day after day and they would wear these clothes to bed as well. We worked with the teachers and some generous sponsors to purchase pajamas for all of the students, each packed in a bag with their name on it. These were given to them at a wonderful surprize dinner and those kids were so amazed and thankful."

Another notch in the yardstick of success is to see kids complete the JK to Grade 5 program and continue on to the Tuesday night EMG programs.

EMGyouth is the youth movement for those in Grades 6 to Grade 12 where the kids enjoy music, games, live worship, and in-depth discussions and presentations with Sarah Montes and other leaders. Other EMG events include "Fiesta"- their Summer Camp, the EMG "OVERFLOW" Convention, week-end retreats and many more outreach activities throughout the year.

Pastor Fess comments on the youth groups; "Sometimes young people fall away from their faith but we are sowing seeds of the gospel. We have kids that have gone through the youth ministries but have wandered away. Now they are returning as young adults and as married couples in search of God. Jesus was important to them back then and we are happy to see them excited about serving Jesus now. We are making breakthroughs all the time and, as long as we stay focused with the Kingdom mindset, the breakthroughs will keep happening," What makes Pastor Gary Fess smile at the end of a week and say: "It’s been a great week"?

"It's the stories I hear of people ministering to one and other. There is a lady from the congregation who received news that her father in Zambia passed away. I talked with her yesterday and I asked if there was anything she needed. She said she did not as 'so many people from the church have been coming by with food and support for me'. As a pastor that is what makes me smile."