Road Trip Remembrances

After all these months of sabbatical and a busy start to fall, we’re happy to announce there’s been an official Joell sighting! He didn’t get lost in Manitoba’s backcountry during his Heartland road trip after all, so we’re glad to share his reflections about his journeys and the people he connected with along the way:

So, start a sabbatical by driving 3000+ kms through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, visiting as many of our Heartland CBWC churches as possible… and drum up support for church planting.

That seems to long ago… but that’s what I tasked myself with back in May and it was a great time for me to get to see the “lay of the land” and connect with most (sorry, I missed some) of you. Of our churches. Here’s a few of observations from my journey.


  1. The Heartland is open and willing to consider involvement in church planting. As I chatted with laypeople and pastors I came away with keen sense that everyone understands the importance of church planting. There is a recognition that planting churches (of various kinds) is healthy and worth investing in.
  2. Most churches are strapped for energy and resources to embark on planting. Yes, we all know it’s true. It’s hard to focus on “having babies” when the parent is having a hard time making ends meet.
  3. Cooperation is alive and…well, not quite doing well but it is a favourable consideration. When asked if a church would be willing to cooperate with other churches in church planting the answer was always a resounding “yes.”
  4. Exposure to current church plants is minimal. Sadly, having our active church plants be visible in the Heartland congregations isn’t an easy task (due to distance) but it was deemed very important by our churches.
  5. There is a heart for Heartland planting. Many church leaders shared a burden they had for a particular community (usually nearby) that they felt needed a new expression of Christian community. This is great stuff!

So, there’s a few musings. Thanks to all who allowed me to visit and I hope to connect with the rest of you very soon.

Joell Haugan
Heartland Church Planting Director

Join the Moment Part 5: The Me Factor

By Shannon Youell

We have been talking about five ways of joining God’s momentum at work in our churches and neighbourhoods.

Way #1 was looking at joining as bringing two or more things together. Of pooling and sharing our resources, energy, wisdom and expertise bringing collective “we-impact” and the faithful presence of our Father into the places where hope is fleeting.

Momentum Element #2 invites us into one of those practices by way of Venture Partnerships. Financially supporting church plants dramatically increases their success rate and their long term sustainability. When we can provide the best training, coaching and mentoring along with resources to actually do the work, we can change our North American statistic of a 30% church plant success rate to a much higher rate. But it does, as the article points out, take a village to do so. At CBWC we are committed in finding ways to partner so resources are well-utilized.

Momentum #3 invites us to be “ears on the ground” wherever God has placed us. God has given each of us an area of stewardship of all He has created, which includes land and natural resources, but also people! When we are gospel listeners, listening both to the Holy Spirit and to the voices in our individual and corporate lands of stewardship, we may hear stories of existing independent churches who long for belonging to a tribe for collective impact. We may also hear of new expressions, or existing groups beginning to listen to where God would call them to join Him at work in neighbourhoods. These ministries could use the coaching and training available through CBWC and partner church planting groups. Since we all have ears to hear and eyes to see and we all have stewardship, we invite you to connect with those folk and then connect with us to work with you and them to see God’s Kingdom expand.

Numero quatro (#4), challenges our math skills and our theological and missional thinking. As sent ones into the world to be salt and light and witnesses of Jesus, how are you and I intentionally building an ethos of multiplication (making disciples of not-yet believers who then make disciples of not-yet/new-believers) into our faith communities and churches. Our challenge to us all is ask God to show you where He would have you join Him and then, when He impresses you with His heart, call us to explore what it could mean for your church.

Which brings us to the grand finale – Momentum number five.

This is the scariest one. This is the one we don’t really want to talk about because it points all the laser eyes at me and you, our own personal selves.

When we set aside the books, the conferences, the conversations, the models, methods and metrics, church planting momentum is basically one thing and one thing only: you and me telling people about Jesus and guiding them to discover new life in Him. And as far as I can tell from my Bible, we’re all to be a part of this work.

Sadly, our North American church track record is that approximately 90 percent of us have rarely talked about Jesus with our friends, family and co-workers. And when we do, it is with great fear and trembling and awkward attempts to explain good news that doesn’t seem so good by time we’re finished with it!

Or we’re so determined and pushy that our priority is how many notches we have in our belt for getting folk to say the ‘sinner’s prayer’ (rather like closing a sales deal). Should our priority not be to introduce our friends and neighbours to a relationship of discipleship where Christ is revealed as we go?

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give (Matthew 10:7-8).

Nick Kenrick CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Over the course of the next several months, we at CBWC Church Planting will be exploring our embedded cultural norm of exempting me, you, and us from Christ’s command to proclaim the Kingdom of God as we go in all the places we live, work, play and pray.

We’d love your thoughts, stories, comments on this topic as we go on this journey together with you.

Church Planting Update

By Shannon Youell, Church Planting Coordinator and Cailey Morgan, Assistant to the Director of Church Planting

This article appeared first in CBWC’s newsletter Making Connections. Subscribe to Making Connections here.

We received some interesting research recently from Lifeway Research and Ed Stetzer. The research is the first Church Planting Survey to explore the Canadian context, and draws for us an overview of current church planting trends and practices. The study found that three broad patterns—praying, equipping, and sharing Jesus—are foundational to greater church planting success in Canada.


The study found that church plants who regularly prayer-walk are more likely to have a majority-unchurched congregation, and church plants with regular prayer meetings are more likely to reach financial sustainability. While financial stability may not be the most spiritual sounding measure of church plant growth, it is certainly a factor and reminds us of Jesus’ promise: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

Will you join us in praying for our new church plants, and commit to intentional, enduring, heart-changing prayer for God’s children in your congregation to catch the passion of God’s heart?  Will you join us across Western Canada as we pray with fervency for those to whom the Kingdom of God has not yet been revealed?  This is what Jesus taught us to pray for!


Stetzer’s research indicates that both denominational support and peer-to-peer equipping have an impact on the chance of a church plants success.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,  while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).

Part of what we do as a family of churches is to provide denominational resources for existing and future church plants, as well as facilitating partnerships between congregations. Some of our member plants need more support in the fragile first years of life, and certainly our existing churches can learn and be stretched by the new ideas and vigour our church planters bring to the table.

You will be hearing more over the coming months, of various ways your church can a) be equipped to multiply in the coming years and b) help to equip and encourage our new church plants. Please consider how you can play a part in the equipping of the Body of Christ in Western Canada.

Sharing Jesus

The study found that church plants conducting outreach Bible studies, and those making regular evangelistic visits, have a higher percentage of unchurched folks making commitments. This research should not be surprising, as Paul writes in Romans 10:14, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

If new churches are to come into existence, and if our own churches are to grow in numbers of new believers, we must find ways to join God in this work, without the stigma that the word “evangelism” has for many of us. Over the coming months, the Church Planting team will be exploring the theme of sharing Jesus on our blog,, as well as facilitating a roundtable discussion on this topic at the coming Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference in November.

We hope you will join the conversation online and in person!

The CBWC Church Planting team is exploring new ways to pray, equip, encourage, inspire and catalyze you to participate in the sending mission of God. If you want to find out more about Church Planting, email Shannon Youell at

Join the Momentum Part 4: Multiplication

By Shannon Youell

Does your church have a vision of multiplying? More often than not, we find ourselves (wishfully, on the back burners of our minds) thinking that planting a church would be great, but we don’t have any intentionality towards it. Yet Jesus called us to be “senders” from within to with-out. Unless we begin to examine why we should plant outwards, we will never cultivate the ethos of multiplication as part of our discipleship process within.

Multiply: Dandelion — Kenneth Spencer CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Some Tough Questions
So though we say we are called on mission with God, we often find ourselves asking: Why plant? Doesn’t that just diminish what we already have? Won’t it stretch our limited resources beyond sustainability? What is our mission anyways and to whom should our missional focus be toward? Are we here for sake of maintaining the local church or for the community—the parish that is all around us? Does God place us in particular places to be His proclaimers of the gospel of the Kingdom of God?

These are questions worth spending time wrestling over. Often we can’t imagine our church even imagining planting a new church community that might “compete” with what faithful practices we engage in. Yet statistically, new churches actually renew community interest to those who are de-churched or unchurched and brings renewed excitement to our existing congregations as they partner in new life. Because after a while, folk in our communities don’t even notice our presence anymore. A new church can generate curiosity in a community.

Recently our local news carried a story about a large household products store closing out and a new Save-On Foods grocery moving in. There were some reactionary expressions from established independent grocers that this large chain will ‘steal’ their customer base and eventually squeeze them out. Just this year a new grocery store opened and another announced they would be the anchor in a new commercial development, so a third mega store seemed overkill. Yet after a few days of reflection some of those same grocers spoke positively and welcoming of the new stores. It causes their customers to take another look around at what their shopping needs are and they shift to that which meets their needs or become more loyal to where they already shop.

Just within the last few weeks a new church plant launched in my smallish, yet rapidly growing community on Vancouver Island. Their first Sunday saw eight hundred people come out to two services. Some initial reactions are that this new, more dynamic expression of gathering together will “steal” some folk from the already established and numerically struggling churches.

Yet a renewed interest in seeking God can actually benefit the existing churches. As curious already-Christians and not-yet-believers explore the new plant, some will stay, some return to whence they came, and others, who taste and see that the Lord is good, will discover places where they find belonging. Often that is in the new plant, but frequently they begin to explore the other area churches until they find their place of home and faith.

Multiplication or Cloning?
Another misconception we can have about planting is that it can only really be church if it looks like us…as though we are cloning rather than multiplying. Creating a new gathering that looks like us has and will continue to be a way to plant churches, but it can’t be our only way. We must always consider our context and culture and what God is already doing in the places where He is preparing for harvest. Multiplying can take on many expressions that won’t necessarily look like our particular culture, yet brings the presence of the ministry of reconciliation into the places and spaces around us.

Here are some ways that some of our CBWC folk are pursuing joining God on His multiplying mission:

  • Existing congregations who recognize they are primarily in the upper age group and perhaps declining in numbers yet long to see the legacy of the good work they spent their lives laboring at continue into the younger generations. Some of these faithful folk are the catalysts of prayer, resourcing and mentoring a second service with a completely different expression than they practice so that the faithful presence of God at work in their neighbourhood flourishes.


  • Neighbourhood focuses are a great way to bring God’s faithful presence through the already-believers in the hood to others who have yet to encounter Jesus. Some of our CBWC churches are focusing their missional impulses on the neighbourhoods in which their constituents live, building genuine bridges between people who live next to other, yet are strangers. They welcome the stranger and the alien and love them with Christ’s healing, restorative love, discipling folk in the Jesus Way before they even introduce them to Him. Church plants like this birth new churches out of sharing Jesus from within community rather than planting a church and then doing outreach in a neighbourhood. It’s more like in-reach!
  • What about joining with other CBWC churches in your area to share in starting a new community of faith in a neighbourhood where one is not yet there? Sharing this work in energy and resources builds strong relationships broadly and local specific building up both the body and the kingdom. Bob Roberts Jr. says that church planting should be thought of more as community development than building a place for already believers to gather; he calls them “community faith engagers” rather than church planters.

These are but a few of the ways we can begin to cultivate the ethos of multiplication within our church communities. The key is getting involved somehow, someway–stepping outside our known practices to discover the Holy Spirit at work all around us in unexpected ways.

How about You?
CBWC is here to coach, mentor, train and resource you on whatever the multiplication path may look like for you. Contact us to explore how you and your folk can lean into the legacy of the past to propel the legacy of the next generations!


Book Review: Seed Falling on Good Soil

Gord King is a beloved CBWC member with an impressive resumé: he has taught theology in Bolivia, served in the refugee determination process in Canada, worked for World Vision Canada, and directed The Sharing Way (the international development program of Canadian Baptist Ministries). He has served as a board member of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, El Centro de Estudios Teologicos Interdisciplinarios, and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. And he’s now author of the book Seed Falling on Good Soil: Rooting Our Lives in the Parables of Jesus (from Wipf and Stock). We are thrilled to re-post this guest book review from Annabel Robinson, originally posted on Scot McKnight’s blog. Thank you to Gord for your book, and Annabel for the review!

Here is a book that will challenge you to the core. When I picked it up I thought I was reading an exegesis of the parables of Luke. It is indeed that. But what I had in my hands was the outpouring of a soul as he heard the words of Jesus speaking to the downtrodden people in other parts of the world. Gordon King has worked for both secular and Christian agencies in many places: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Rwanda, Kenya, Angola, Malawi, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, the Middle East and Canada. He has listened to the cries from these places, and hears them in the people for whom Jesus first told these stories. He urges us to enter the social world of first century Palestine before we attempt to interpret the parables for our world of today.


The result will haunt you. These are “deeply challenging and dissident messages” that will change our lives. The book is written for two groups of people: those who have called to live their lives in difficult places—community workers, educators and pastoral workers—who know discouragement and despair, and those who are disillusioned and disappointed by what the church at home has to offer.

The parables are read against two backgrounds.

One is the stories of people whom Gordon has met in different places and left a lasting impression on him. The book is alive with them.

The other background is taken from secular writers in the social sciences and anthropology, who offer principles of understanding our world.

He cites Arthur Frank, who describes how we all develop an “inner library” of stories that have particular meaning for us. The parables are just such stories. This “inner library” can “ambush” us by invading our thinking when we are unprepared. Frank describes stories like this as “dangerous companions.”

He also builds on James C. Scott’s observation that a repressive regime will promulgate what Scott calls a “public transcript”—a way of seeing the world that serves their own ends. Against this, dissidents develop a “private transcript.” Jesus’ parables address the private transcript of the oppressed people of Palestine. They are far from simple, cosy stories. Too easily we accommodate them to the world with which we are familiar. But King writes, “Personal loyalty to Jesus’ message and mission requires a . . . commitment to critique and reverse the public transcripts that maintain the oppressive world order.”

To do this we need to cultivate the strength of character to remain faithful in times of fatigue and discouragement. We can’t do it in the midst of frenetic activity. It requires “solitude, patience, humour, prayer, and a stubborn commitment to face the truth about the world and our own lives.”

Against these backgrounds Gordon King offers a reading of a number of Jesus’ parables which will jar with more familiar interpretations. In particular, I would single out his reading of the parable of the talents. When I first read it I had to put the book aside. The next day I realized that it was my familiarity with the usual interpretation that was getting in the way. By the end of the day, I was convinced. Jesus, as C.S.Lewis observed, is not a tame lion.

But if the book is challenging, it is also encouraging. It is “the Spirit who hovers over us, and whispers in our ears the good and fruitful story of God, who is inviting us to participate in the work of healing and transforming the world.” We may be led to repentance. We may feel overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness. We will be inspired to imagine a world that can be called the new creation of a loving God.

Whether you know discouragement and despair from living in difficult places, or are dissatisfied with the church at home, read this book. You will hear Jesus afresh.

Greenhills Christian Fellowship Calgary Update

This article by Pastor Allan Santos can be found originally published in CBWC’s monthly enewsletter Making Connections. Subscribe here.

We are grateful to the Lord for how He is moving and working in the lives of His children here in GCF Calgary. One of the primary thanksgivings that we have is our ministry towards the young professionals or the millennials of today. We are so blessed to see them serving the Lord wholeheartedly. Our primary commitment to the leadership of our young professionals is to disciple each one of them so they will grow spiritually and be equipped with God’s word as they do God’s work.  Quarterly meetings are being held with the leaders to talk about Jesus’ strategy on how to make disciples who can make disciples.  Now, our young professionals have four groups who are meeting faithfully each week to study God’s word and fellowship.  IMG_2884.jpg

Another ministry that we are continually pursuing is our basketball outreach.  Early this year, we had our basketball tournament and we had six teams that participated in this event.  We praise God for the opportunity to meet and share God’s Word to the players.  Two players accepted the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives and followed water baptism.  Indeed, the Lord is making a move for people to know and follow Him.


We also praise the Lord for the men and women’s fellowship that were held every month starting early this year. The leadership of the church prayed and aimed to strengthen these particular groups because we desire to see the men and women in our church to have their own support group as they face everyday challenges and opportunities unique to their varied life roles. By God’s grace, both of these fellowship activities are increasing in attendance and consequently, closer relationships are being built and established.

womens fellowship.jpg

The work of the Lord here in Calgary is both challenging and exciting. It is challenging because the church needs to think of ways on how to reach out to people who are busy with their own lives pursuing wealth and personal success. On the other hand, it is exciting because we are seeing the need for them to know Jesus because He is the only One who can give a life that is complete and fulfilling.

May our good Lord be glorified, as we desire to reach out people for Him. His name be forever praised!

We’re so glad to hear how God is at work at GCF, and we want to share your stories too! Email Cailey ( with your story to encourage our family of churches across western Canada.

Join the Momentum Part 3

By Shannon Youell

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I had an encounter with God that catapulted me into the adventure of life as a follower of Jesus. With minimal exposure to church  to that point (someone did backyard Bible camps in our neighborhood a few times and the occasional visit to a Sunday school on an overnighter with a friend), it took me a number of years and experiences in theological and organizational dynamics to truly understand and value why a congregation benefits from sharing the work of the kingdom with a larger and broader association of the faithful.

Honestly, I didn’t see the merit of denominationalism or associated bodies, until I served for five years in an independent church as worship director and there launched into worship and speaking ministry in a variety of church expressions and associations.

The independent churches I ministered in (including my then home church) were missing the longing and blessing of shared work, resources, continuing education, theological reflection, camps, missions among many other benefits that families of churches have access to.

Anything they did they had to do on their own–reinventing the proverbial wheel so to speak. Good work to be sure, but difficult. Independence also means when they have need of encouragement, accountability, wise counsel, correction, or succession few know where to turn.

There are faithful folk gathering in congregations all around us who may be praying for a larger group to connect with, to be relational with, to share in the amazing work that God has called us all to in seeing the kingdom of God expanded and flourishing.

They worship on other languages, other styles, other cultures, as do we, yet share in the statements of the Apostles Creed and the passion of seeing Christ revealed in the crowds, in the curious and in the committed. Sounds like the early church doesn’t it! And like the early church, who supported the churches near and far in prayers, in counsel, in resources, in need, our shared work as CBWC does this, near and far.


What churches around are on their own and perhaps would welcome an invitation to be enfolded in a family of folk who labour and long together in God’s mission among us?  Talk to them or ask them to talk to Shannon, Cailey or Joell about how we can resource and encourage them: how we can be family with them.

Friends, we are a family of amazing people sharing God’s faithfulness to us with one another, with other labourers and with the world around us at home and beyond.  Gifts and resourcing and talents and ideas that are not for us, but for God’s glory!

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.  Psalm 115:1

Free Workshop: A Day with Brad Brisco

As we at the CBWC work with you to grow your communities and witness people encountering Jesus, we want to bring you resources that will help frame our thinking about local mission and the tools to practice and disciple others.

Brad Brisco is offering a Mission Essentials clinic on October 12 in Leduc, AB, and October 13 in Surrey, BC.

We are so convinced that this workshop could be a game changer for your congregation that CBWC Church Planting is covering the cost for as many of you and your church folk and leaders to come as possible. Just register each attendee here.



Forge - BB - BC copy.jpg

Brad is an author, church planter, teacher and catalyzer. One of the gifts that he has brought to the church in the past few years is his ability to take deep theological truths and make them understandable for normal people who love Jesus. This day with Brad will help churches to chart a course of action for understanding the mission of God and then helping us imagine how God wants us to engage in our neighbourhoods. This workshop is for everyone who is a follower of Jesus.

Please, please, please make these two sessions a priority for your church’s members and leadership team, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at

Shannon Youell, CBWC Church Plant Coordinator

It Takes a Village

By Shannon Youell

This article describes the second of five ways to join the momentum and participate in what God is doing in new and existing communities around us.

It takes a village to raise a child.

This Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) proverb exists in different forms in many African languages. The basic meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family (sometimes called the extended family). Everyone in the family participates especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. It is not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with their grandparents or aunts or uncles. Even the wider community gets involved such as neighbors and friends. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community.

In general this Nigerian proverb conveys the African worldview that emphasizes the values of family relationships, parental care, self-sacrificing concern for others, sharing, and even hospitality. This is very close to the Biblical worldview as seen in scripture texts related to unity and cooperation.i

In part one of Joining the Momentum, I used the comparison of creeks merging together to form rivers that carry collective we-impact. This African proverb goes to the relational aspect….none of us really can, nor should, grow alone. Church planting should not be an individualistic activity but rather a communal effort for the best chances of healthy development and further fruitfulness. The responsibility is too big and is meant to be shared as new believers and new communities of faith are indeed “a blessing from God for the whole community.”

Kids CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 StefSince1985

Some years ago, one of the families in our church were required to go to Southern California for the survival of their unborn child. They had six children, a home, and a business to run and the very thought of being away for several months of unknown duration was devastating emotionally and financially. So our church community began to strategize how to help. My idea to add to the other fundraising efforts was to ask our church community and the extended community around us to commit to monthly contributions to be deposited into the family’s bank account to cover their expenses here while they were away (the David Foster Foundation was covering their Southern California expenses).  I asked for any amount, from $10.00 a month to whatever folk were led to give, and then I asked for post-dated cheques so that the funds were regularly available and the parents didn’t have to keep seeing if there was enough for their home expenses.

The campaign was a great success and the gratitude and peace of mind of not having to worry about what was happening back home helped that family emotionally in tremendous ways. Most of the contributions were sacrifices by the folk who gave them, but all said it was a journey of faith for them as well, as God continued to provide for their needs even as they gave away some of their own needed resources to join in the life of this child and family. All were blessed in the communal effort of ushering in new life.

In our tribe, CBWC, shared work and communal effort are a core value. In church planting, the birthing of new communities of faith requires a village. One of the ways we do this is through Venture Partnerships that are exactly what our local community participated in for our friends. Imagine: if all 170-plus of our churches joined forces with a new community in Western Canada at only $100 per month, we would have an additional $204,000 to bring Christ where He is yet unknown.

But Venture Partnership is more than just giving much needed funding, it is also a relationship with the new community.  A commitment to pray, to mentor, to be a part of what they are doing near and far.

Recently one of our church planters met, for the first time, the pastor from the church who had Ventured with the new church when it first began. A connection was made right away from the common bond of sharing in this work both in the past and in the future.  They now had a shared experience and joy!

I think if we truly believe that God invites us to participate with Him on mission that must be a part of our ethos, much like the early church who supported one another for the advancement of the Good News of the Kingdom of God.