This article first published in news & notes by CBWC Executive Minister Jeremy Bell.
Tom Lavigne is a person of deep integrity, great personal spirituality in the area of discernment, a prophetic voice in the area of church planting and renewal, and someone who is moving on from his particular role as Church Planting Director. He has had a longing to be in the local church for some time. It has seemed that in his willingness to stay in his role as Church Planting Director, he has in fact been not following the Lord’s leading in his life. I shall deeply miss him and am very thankful that he has been willing to answer a series of questions for us:
Do you have a sense of what a valuable colleague you have been to me personally? The countless other staff and planters, and how much you will be missed…
Over the past four years I’ve been a part of a very gifted staff team and church-planting cadre. In working together I’ve been amazed how God has used so many of my past life and work experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly), redeeming them in ways that could make positive contributions to our efforts. I’m very grateful and humbled that from day one I’ve received the freedom to grow into the role, the resources to help make things happen and the sense of appreciation from so many that my efforts were making an impact for the kingdom. Thank you.
Could you let us know about your own coming to faith, church planting and ministry experience? Could you share with us what were some of the precipitating prompts from God that drew you to being Director of Church Planting for the CBWC?
I came to faith in God in the early 1980’s as part of a major move of God in the Peace Country in northern British Columbia. Churches throughout the region were impacted in incredible ways through hundreds of people coming to Christ. After attending Bible college I entered ministry in the early 1990’s, bringing with me a God-given entrepreneurial spirit. Early on in ministry we were involved in developing a crisis pregnancy ministry, Community Justice Association, Christian counselling ministry as well as planting a church and helping others plant churches. I transitioned in ministry in 2006, moving from the Peace Country to Prince George to lead the staff at First Baptist Church. After three tremendous years at First we sensed God calling us to complete our ministry and get ready for what He had next – not knowing that at the same time the CBWC Executive Staff was going through a season of discernment and that church planting was fast becoming a major priority for the denomination. After a providential telephone call with Jeremy Bell, we agreed to pray through what was happening and see where God was leading us. All this led to me joining the team as the Director of Church Planting in August 2009.
How would you describe the work we do together?
Our work together is best described by the quality of our shared relationships. I believe that due to the autonomous nature of the CBWC the work that we do together, whether it’s with church plants, existing churches or among Executive Staff and Board, is collegial – with “strength of relationships” being the shared currency.
What are some joys and what are some frustrations?
Some of the joys (in no particular order) have been seeing God move within our CBWC family with the “risk takers”, whether they’re in urban or rural settings, regardless of ethnicity and experience, stepping out in faith to plant new churches. I’ve also seen the joy of existing churches risking by investing in new churches and the blessing they receive in the partnership. My major frustration would come from within – God is helping me to deal with the angst that I often feel when I look at the amazing “opportunities” for the church in Western Canada and the potential we have to do great things for Him – yet see so few people actively working together in what God is up to.
What are some of the things you feel we do well and what are some of the things you would caution us about?
It’s been said that our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness. An orchestra is made up of individually gifted musicians who collectively perform wonderful pieces of music under the direction of a conductor. My caution might be that in the CBWC family, while we have many gifted pastors and leaders, we need to find greater ways to engage together in our shared vision.
Give us a little bit of report of where things are at in planting and how we can actively support our churches, our planters and our new churches in this endeavour.
At Assembly 2013 we welcomed two new churches into the CBWC. Currently we have eight church plants in the process of affiliating and several prospective church plants developing. The best way to support our church planters is through ongoing prayer, regular communication and creative ways to resource the ministries of the plant. “Venture Partnerships” are starting to bear good fruit in Calgary and the Vancouver area as well as existing churches helping with building/ministry projects and financial gifts.
Lastly, how can we support you and Chris in your discerning process in the months ahead? And how can we share with you in the joys and sorrows that will inevitably be part of our journey in this family of churches who will always hold you dear?
Over the past year, and in particular through the summer months, I’ve sensed God’s calling to return to pastoral ministry in the local church. I’ve likened the feeling to one of a shepherd returning to the flock. While I’ve enjoyed the privilege of serving the CBWC in the role of Church Planting Director, I know that it’s God’s time for me to get back to the sheep. Our plans at this time are to take the month of November off, visit with family and friends, and have some time of personal retreat and reflection – preparing to re-enter ministry as God leads. While we don’t have any specific call to any church at this time, Chris and I would appreciate your prayers for God’s direction, provision and encouragement as we enter into this season of transition. Thank you.
Many thanks Tom. Looking forward to continuing the journey with you. God be with you.