By Shannon Youell
Over the past couple weeks we’ve been sharing our excitement over CBWC’s new ministry priorities that came out of an intentional season of discernment by our churches, Board and Staff. There are so many good things we could be doing as a family of churches in support of each other and in pursuit of God’s mission on earth, so we asked God to show us how we should focus our time, energy and resources in the coming years, and He responded by clarifying goals we already had and renewing passions for deeply rooted values of joining God at work around us.
Engaging in Mission
Along with Cultivating Leadership and Investing in Relationship, Engaging in Mission will also be a priority for us as a body of churches in the coming years. We as CBWC see this as “Growing our CBWC family through fresh expressions and intentional implementation of the gospel.” And while it may be third on our list of ministry priorities, Engaging in Mission is absolutely core to our identity as God’s kids.
We are missionaries! Every one of us. Jesus invites us to join Him in the family business of making disciples of all peoples. We’ve written here often about engaging in the places and spaces we occupy in our everyday lives, building relationships, sharing life and stories and faith with those around us. When we gather in our churches we pray that we may be witnesses to our family, friends and co-workers. This is missionary work.
The good news is that God’s Kingdom of justice-making, oppression breaking, reconciliatory, restoration of humans-to-God and humans-to-one-another Shalom is among us. The Kingdom is unfolding and Jesus is the King who—rather than reigning from a palace representing the power regimes of humans—chooses to be placed upon the cross, revealing God’s sacrifice for this restoration.
Moving Forward Practically
So how do we intentionally implement this gospel? How do we foster God’s love of the world among ourselves—the love that compels us to join Him on His mission to witness to the Father’s goodness wherever God has placed us? Here’s some of what we’re doing and planning towards:
- Developing resources for congregational renewal, including re-planting. Are you revisiting your vision and mission statements? Are you asking the hard questions of what Jesus calls us to as missionaries in our own context and then evaluating if you are engaging in ways that help to foster missional work around you? We gather and share ideas for engaging our congregations in this conversation. This includes Sam Breakey’s work in Church Health Assessments, which helps a church down a path of self-discovery towards a place of “where-to-from-here.”
- The call to discipleship is the formation of who we are as followers of Jesus. We are gathering and developing tools to help our churches reimagine discipleship that makes disciples who make disciples—the mandate the early church ran with! Watch for upcoming learning events on discipleship, or check out some of our articles here.
- Speaking of articles, our blog is one of our best resources for sparking conversation in your churches! Though it’s named the Church Planting Blog, we post many different perspectives, ideas and thought-provoking articles on discipleship, vision, and missional thinking. The purpose of this blog is to get us thinking, hopefully enough that we ask good questions of ourselves and our churches when it comes to engaging in church life from a missional perspective. We’ve gathered and shared—and will share again the stories and ideas of others who have stepped into the “missionary in our neighbourhoods” conversation. These practitioners help us to understand how to engage those who will likely never just wake up one Sunday and say to themselves, “I think I’ll go to a church today.” Our society is increasingly unchurched, so, like the missionaries we send overseas, we must also relearn how to be a missional people, which causes me to consider that perhaps God is in the shift all along to inspire us to reengage in local missionary work.
- Providing resources for church planters and for churches looking to multiply. The reality is that churches plant churches and we help them! There are many expressions of church planting but the mandate is always the same: to multiply those who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior and join in the mission of God!
- Multiplication: churches that make disciples who can make disciples grow into new expressions of church in their neighbourhoods, towns and cities. The healthiest thing a flourishing church can do is send teams of leaders/lay leaders well-equipped and trained to reproduce the good work of the mother church.
- CBWC comes alongside to help you be your most successful selves in this endeavour, including the current development of a Canadian Baptist training/coaching program for teams, not just for planters.
- Encouraging active participation in the national Canadian Baptist Church Planting initiatives. This is where we tie it all together. Canadian Baptists are working on a national initiative for sharing even more resources, coaches, mentors and trainers to walk with planters and teams. This Training Center will be fundamental in creating a dynamic church planting culture to support teams in developing healthy projects, and is developed by Canadians for our Canadian landscape. This is the basic training that includes Assessment, Coaching and Discernment in an culture of teamwork. It does not promote any one model but rather every team comes to discover together what their church plant should be and what they are capable of planting, what makes sense for them and the people they want to serve. Daughter, sister, missional, fresh expression, satellite, attractional, house: all models are open to consideration.
When you think of our CBWC family, what examples of fresh expressions of the gospel come to mind? Do you have ideas for what God’s good news could look like in your community or a new community in Western Canada?