I’m Back!


By Cailey Morgan

Hello Readers!

This quick post is just to let you know that after a wonderful and intense 13-month parental leave, I am back part-time in my roles with CBWC in Church Planting and Communications.

In 2018 my husband and I decided to pursue local adoption, in November 2020 we welcomed our daughter Rorie into our home, and in June 2021 we signed the court documents to make it official. Rorie came into our lives shortly after her first birthday, after a year in a fantastic foster home.

Kyson Rorie and Cailey Morgan

Rorie is friendly, talkative and loves to sing. She’s into scooting, soccer, and books, especially ones about Fancy Nancy or construction vehicles. Her favourite song is “Every Move I Make,” with “Praise Ye the Lord” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” tied for second place. She is epic and hilarious, but also exhausting and challenging—especially to this mom who likes solitude and silence and being in control…but that’s another post for another day.

We are grateful for everyone who has prayed for us and cheered us on along the way. We are also so inspired by the many stories in the CBWC family of those who have grown their families through adoption, and we look forward to more conversations!

Remissioning: Grandma’s Church

By Shannon Youell

One of my favorite paintings is Van Gogh’s Starry Night. One of the ways this painting speaks to me is in the imagery of the village. It is night and the glory of God fills the skies. The church with its darkened windows rests in the middle of the village. But the lights burn bright in the windows of the homes in the neighbourhood. There, people gather around meals, prayer, conversation, thankfulness with family, with friends, with neighbours. This is what I think of as I read this quote exerted from today’s guest blogger of viewing one’s one’s “own neighbourhood as a fundamental Gospel building block.”

In this New Leaf Network Blog Post, author Rohadi picks up on some of the thinking of our previous blog post on Abundant Community and the Kingdom of God within neighbourhoods. Both these great posts were written pre-covid yet their relevance to the types of reflecting, processing, thinking and questioning the church is doing in the midst of our disrupted understanding of what it means to be the church is definitely worth asking yourself and your church some important questions about what God is saying to the church today, in times such as these.

This article by Rohadi was originally posted on the New Leaf Network Blog.

My grandma used to spend the odd Sunday strolling to service two blocks from her home. She lived during a time when everyone went to church, or in the very least knew the stories. Church was part of her routine, part of her neighbourhood, and a part of Canadian culture. The time when the majority of Canadians attended a church service is gone, but I think there’s something worthy to reclaim from grandma’s church from the ‘60s. Not for its assumed position of privilege, but the value of local parish ministry living out a story of “the best yet to come.” Despite current trends to centralize the church (strategizing to strengthen what you have versus planting something new), the presence of the local parish may be a critical key to revitalizing Christianity in post-Christian Canada.

I’m somewhat surprised how, despite facing profound loss as a whole, church leaders implement changes incrementally at a time when most are clamouring to find ways to reverse the exodus. Maybe it’s too little too late? The way leaders justify incrementalism is by picking the latest strategies and tactics that seem to be working for resilient churches somewhere else. If it works for them it should work for us, they’d say.

Evangelicals are beating declining national trends that are most evident in mainline denominations. Some even report very modest growth. Does a silver bullet lie within the function of evangelicalism? Depends what the goal is. If it’s to ensure a resilient church for Christians then yes. If it’s to “preach the Gospel to the lost,” then no.

Tips to Success
Want to lead a resilient and even growing church? Here’s what you need: strengthen programming to young families, ensure strong culturally relevant preaching, have exceptional music, maybe strong programs to baby boomers as well. This is a gross oversimplification, but if you can deliver programming with effectiveness, you’re going to hold your own, and attract the already churched. But in terms of conversion growth, that requires different expertise.

The Naked Emperor
As a whole, evangelical growth occurs via very specific sources. When we consult the data, over the past twenty years churches that add members do so through three primary and almost exclusive ways.

  1. New births.
  2. Christian immigrants.
  3. Christians switching churches.

The best resourced churches “grow” because they can afford robust programming for new immigrants; are the largest and by default have the most births; and have the best music and preaching that attracts the quintessential consumer Christian. Not on the list of three? Evangelicals struggle to grow by evangelism. In their book, A Culture of Faith, Sam Reimer and Michael Wilkinson asked congregants in evangelical churches what they thought the highest priorities in their churches were–evangelism was one of the lowest. Despite the moniker, evangelical churches don’t grow by evangelism. Even the best resourced churches struggle to connect with a post-Christendom culture where fewer hold any religious memory of the bygone church/Christian dominated Canada.

Where do we go from here?

First off, we need to shift our theological paradigm of mission. This change is both critical yet difficult to adopt. Rather than mission being a program or support for professional missionaries somewhere ‘out there in the world’, can we re-orient mission to the forefront? Can mission become the defining filter for the entire function of the church here in Canada? The implications of shifting the paradigm of mission will alter your perceptions from a church devoted to Christians for Christians, to one that re-values a participating church in the restoration of neighbourhoods for the benefit of all (as fundamental identity and not mere outreach ministry).

Challenging old paradigms of mission (some would adopt language like ‘missional’) will require more than casual lip-service. Modelling is a necessary step to take ideas beyond planning. It will mean some discomfort as we alter the things we devote the majority of our resources to—namely the Sunday service(s) and programs—so they reflect missional orientation. For example, it is difficult to claim ‘priesthood of all believers’ or encourage congregational participation in the unfolding mission of God if our gatherings are exclusively run by the qualified clergy and staff. Upsetting the rhythm of our most cherished institution (the service) won’t be easy. On one hand it is expected that staff will do most of the work because they are paid, on the other, this expectation detracts from the development of congregations out of a consumer mentality of participation. Ultimately, consumer churches are not missional churches.

Secondly, once a paradigm of mission has been established (or unrolling) leaders will seek to implement strategic direction to increase participation. One of the ways to ‘cheat’ in this process is to look at the bright spots already unfolding within your congregation, and outside in your immediate neighbourhood. You may be surprised with what people are already doing on their own accord. On average, most people will wait to join some kind of ministry the church starts. Look for the anomalies who are already living out the character of Jesus in their space and place without permission from the church. Develop these people, partner with them, and send them resources.

Thirdly, connect people based on geography. The power of the neighbourhood, of presence and proximity, cannot be replicated because it is the very foundation of incarnation—of the Word made flesh whom moved into the neighbourhood. I’ve had conversations with mega-church pastors who legitimized commuting as an asset because driving 25 minutes to a small group demonstrated deep commitment. That might be true, but it utterly devalues the neighbourhood. Jesus literally meant, love thy literal neighbour, literally next door. Literally. Combining people based on postal code is a powerful tool to create groups that are centered in the same place and ready to live out the character of Jesus where they live with people they love. I can’t think of a better pursuit for ‘small groups’. This idea, however, requires the church to process idea #1, and indeed value its very own neighbourhood as a fundamental Gospel building block.

Admittedly, the paradigm shift towards a lens of mission is not an easy one to adopt. Encouraging entrenched churches to revalue proximity over commuting may be met with stiff opposition. Suggesting the resources committed for years (decades) don’t work is a tough pill to swallow especially for those who’ve spent most of that time planted in Christian culture. (It’s tough to see the world with different eyes when you’ve been inside the church the whole time.) Disrupting status quo isn’t supposed to be easy. The caveat is, over time, you will develop and attract focused people who will call an incarnational vision their own, and will give their lives towards it. Ultimately, that’s what we hope for: a community of witnesses on jealous pursuit of an unfolding love story in their neighbourhoods and beyond.

Creative Restraints 

By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan

My husband Kyson is a fantastic photographer. He loves to capture the vastness of the ocean at sunrise, the intensity of colour in a flower petal, and the diversity of culture and personality in our community. During Lent, he took weekly prayer-photo-walks around the neighbourhood. For two of those weeks, he set his camera to only shoot in a 1:1 square ratio, in black and white, with a 35mm prime lens. No zoom. No colour. No cropping. 

These creative restraints forced Kyson to see the street that we’ve lived on for 6 years in a whole new light.

He found beauty, symmetry and life in places that had seemed barren at first glance. And the bright, shiny characters that usually drew his attention lost some of their luster when seen through the equalizing glass of the black and white viewfinder. By narrowing his field of view, he broadened his perspective.

My hope for each of usand for each of our churchesis that the creative restraint of a social-distancing world will help us broaden our vision of what church is meant to be, and what that means explicitly for me and you and the Body of Christ right now in our specific ministry contexts.  

What is God inviting your congregation into, in this very moment, in your tiny piece of the planet?  

This is a question we should consistently be asking, whether we are gathered face-to-face in our communities or making eye contact with our webcams as we practice discipleship over Zoom 

A few weeks ago in a commentary in my city’s newspaper, a Bishop from the U.K was reflecting upon his hope that this time in our world of needing to stay home and socially distance from one another is a good time to rediscover things in our lives that we’ve ignored or disregarded due to the pace of life and expectations of that paceAs best as I can recall he said we can all reflect on “being who we’re really meant to be because the other things that have captured our attention aren’t available to us right now. 

I wonder how often, as followers of Jesus, we take the time to examine if we are living, acting, demonstrating and communicating who we’re really meant to be in every arena we are present in. We are so conditioned by the culture around us that has shaped our worldview, that we often reflect the same biases, judgments, and perspectives as all those other things that capture our attention–at the great cost of looking more like ourselves and less like those who love God with everything we are and love others likewise.   

Perhaps this is a just the time to reflect on our own motivations and desires. Do they align with the teaching of Jesus that announces the kingdom of God is among us and which we are to embody? 

As we reflect, can we rethink? Can we reframe this resurrection life we’ve been raised into with Christ, and honestly assess areas where we can imagine remissioning ourselves to be the collective light of the world Jesus call us to? This is who we were always meant to be, his witnesses, in both the demonstrating and the telling of the grand story of God’s love for us all. 

Cailey and Shannon
Over the coming weeks we will be hearing from several sources around the idea of expanding our perspectives. This may mean remissioning in an existing church, clarifying direction of a new church plant, or introspecting about the example of mission we are setting through our lives and leadership, in the midst and aftermath of this pandemic as well as in our future patterns.

We hope you’ll join us on the journey!

And the Lord added daily…

By Cailey Morgan

I held the tiny cup of wine and the flour-dusted triangle of pita bread in my hands, thanking God for the tangible reminder of His love. Surrounded by people I’d only met once, as I ate that bread that symbolized Christ’s body I declared that we are part of His body, the church.

Twenty minutes later in a downstairs room with a piece of cake in one hand and steaming cup of coffee the other, I stood next to a woman simultaneously sister and stranger. The moment seemed almost as sacramental as the breaking of bread we had just shared in the sanctuary above. Her eyes gleamed as she shared stories of what God had done over the past year: “It’s like we’re living in a miracle,” she said.

Before I could respond, applause broke out across the fellowship hall. I must have looked confused because the woman laughed as she informed me “that woman over there just decided to give her life to Christ. See! God just keeps doing this!”

Conversions like this are common at Emmanuel Iranian Church. Larry and Erna Schram and I were at the gathering on January 4 to celebrate the launch of EIC’s Coquitlam campus, a multiplication out of their mother church in North Vancouver. The North Van campus, a young church plant itself, baptized over 300 people in 2019.


During the service Larry shared from the early church’s way of life in Acts 2, pointing to both communion and meals together as remembrances of Christ’s body.


It was my honour to participate in commissioning Pastor Arash Azad and the congregation to join God’s Kingdom work among the Farsi-speaking population in Coquitlam, and then joining EIC in Scripture study, prayer, communion and fellowship—living out the words Larry had spoken over us.

Although each of us may live out a little bit differently, all CBWC’s congregations are  linked together as a people through elements of life together such as those four: teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, prayer.  

Next time you partake of communion with your local community of God’s people, take a moment to remember that we are as much a representation of God’s love and sacrifice to world as the wafer or morsel of bread you twirl between your fingers. The way we live and love together as congregations and as a family of churches tangibly speaks of the reality of Christ’s reign in the world.  

Next time you drink the wine—or juice—of the new Covenant, swallow it down with abandon, purposing in your heart to cling to one another and to these shared practices just like the early church did in Acts 2:42-47, stubbornly pursuing Christ and community for the sake of the world. 

As Emmanuel Iranian continues to walk in the ways of Christ and the footsteps of the early church, my prayer is that they would indeed enjoy the favour of all the people, and that God would continue to add to their (our!) number daily those who are being saved. Amen. 




New Church in New West

By Cailey Morgan

Meet Makarios!
We are overjoyed to introduce you to Makarios Evangelical Church, a new Church Plant in Process with the CBWC in partnership with Olivet Baptist Church. Led by husband-and-wife team Pastor Jessica Lee and Dr. Tim Ngai, Makarios (MEC) began weekly gatherings in September 2018, at Olivet’s facility in New Westminster, BC. Worship services and studies are conducted in Cantonese for adults and English for youth.


Olivet Baptist Church facility. Photo courtesy Olivet.

Tim, a spiritual direction professor at Carey Theological College, says that it was a student who actually encouraged his wife to consider church planting:


Dr. Tim Ngai. Photo courtesy Carey Theological College

It’s always has been a deep-rooted passion and vision for both my wife and I to walk with people in their spiritual journey to inspire them to connect with Jesus and live an abundant life according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but we never lay any thought on starting a church.  My wife took a year off from her ministry last year. Jessica was then led by the Spirit to pray to search God’s will and her heart for her next step…So when our student shared with us the idea of us starting a church focusing on spiritual formation, we included the idea in our prayer list. 

As we started to talk with our friends and spiritual mentors, surprisingly people responded overwhelmingly positive. We found God has built up a group of people who share the same vision and are willing to respond to this calling of God with us.

Meals and Mentorship
Last December, 60 people attended the Christmas party hosted in partnership with an international student ministry group out of nearby Douglas College. Much of Makarios’ outreach ministry thrust has been in partnership with this group. Makarios offers English conversation classes for international students on Saturdays, followed by a meal. Every second week, the entire congregation joins in this meal before their Saturday evening worship service.

Jessica, who has a background in pastoral ministry and training in spiritual direction, now serves as Lead Pastor while Tim supports her as MEC’s Consulting Pastor. In the few months since the launch, Jessica is thrilled with the engagement of the group. Seventy per cent of the new congregation is already in serving roles—including a chef, who joyfully organizes regular meals for community and outreach purposes. Just this week, many congregants stayed behind late after Wednesday Bible class to help prepare dumplings for the Chinese New Year celebrations and to offer to those at the food bank that operates out of the Olivet building.

Jessica and Tim have the opportunity to serve as spiritual mentors for many people in the congregation, and are excited to have some leaders stepping up to learn how to be mentors themselves as well.

“A leader is not someone who is powerful or just has lots of experience,” says Jessica. “A leader is someone who has a life that manifests the love and power of God to His people.”

Young congregations like Makarios need support from their family of churches in these formative years. Has your church considered partnering with CBWC Church Planting to help build a strong foundation of prayer, relationship and financial support? Talk to me (cmorgan@cbwc.ca) or Shannon (syouell@cbwc.ca) to find out what you can do today to strengthen Makarios and other CBWC church plants.

Happy New Year!

By Cailey Morgan


Happy New Year!

There’s something about turning the page on a new season that opens the possibility for new hope for the future. I don’t know about you but I am so ready for an opportunity to disengage from the patterns and ruts that I’ve gotten myself into over the last year and begin afresh.

I was reminded by a colleague recently, however, that as Christians, we follow a different calendar.

New Year in December
Yes, on one level I am talking about the Liturgical Calendar, which provides a way for us to live into the story of God throughout the year. The first Sunday of Advent is the first day of the Christian or Liturgical year. Anticipation of the Incarnation becomes the starting point, not personal goals for self-betterment, or stirring up willpower to achieve a better you.

No—for God’s kids, New Year’s Day is a day to cease striving and to wait. It’s a day to put all our hope in Emmanuel who is coming to ransom us, captive in our sins and in the atmosphere of sin around us that threatens to suffocate us until the breath of the Spirit comes.

Everyday A New Day
On another level, we as Christ-followers have access to New Year’s Day every day! As Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” We’ve all messed up, some of us deeply, in the past year, month, week. Yesterday. Today already. But every time we turn away from our heavenly Father, there are two arms open wide to receive us back. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:19).

If you’re looking for a way to reconnect with the Lord in this new calendar season, try opening the Psalms each morning for the next couple of weeks, looking for times when the Psalmist uses the word “morning.” There’s a strong theme of God’s unfailing commitment to us, as well as the constantly-failing commitment of us to Him, and the opportunity—daily—to re-align ourselves to the God who has covenanted with His people, promising to never leave nor forsake us.

Celebrating the Word-made-Flesh

By Cailey Morgan

Over the past month on this blog we’ve been basking in the promises of the Old Testament prophets about our King who will come and bring justice and righteousness, this humble Ruler who will hold our hand and invite us into His mission of peace and flourishing for the world.


As Christmas fast approaches, many of us have likely also been in the first 2 chapters of Luke’s Gospel, a story rife with exclamations of praise as the words of Old Testament prophecies transform into the living reality of Word-made-Flesh before the very eyes of everyday folks like a doubting priest and a pregnant teenager.

I hope that the songs of Elizabeth, Zechariah and Mary—and the pronouncements of the angels—well up in you a new song of worship to our King like they have done for us. Here’s my take on Luke 1 that I’ve been singing lately, and next week you’ll get to read Shannon’s poetic response to the culmination of prophecies come true in Jesus.

His mercy extends His royal hand reaches 
To perform mighty deeds 
Do not be afraid He lifts up the humble 
The Holy One has done great things 
My soul glorifies my spirit rejoices 
In the Lord  
In God my Saviour 
For You God nothing’s impossible 
Let it be as You have said 
Blessed is she who has believed 
That what the Lord has said will be 
Blessed is she who has believed 
That what the Lord has said will be accomplished 
He remembers our children 
He is mindful of us 

He shows mercy to our fathers 
He is mindful of us

My soul glorifies my spirit rejoices 
In the Lord
In God my Saviour 
For You God nothing’s impossible 
Let it be as You have said 

Living Like Citizens

By Cailey Morgan

What does it mean to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom?

We’re in the middle of a series on Gospel, Kingdom and Justice. In some ways, Gospel is the biggest picture—the story of God with us throughout history and the reality that He is for all who will receive Him. Kingdom zooms in a little to explain that God is King, so living out the Gospel (aka, living in His presence with Him) means we are citizens of His Kingdom: the realm in which what God wants done gets done.


In coming articles we will dive into Justice—an even sharper focus on one of the key ways that the Good News of the Kingdom is enacted on earth and in heaven. But today, let’s look at one of the ways the Tangible Kingdom Primer describes God’s Kingdom on earth:

“We believe that whenever you see a group of people who find a rhythm or balance among communion, community and mission, you will always find the Kingdom. It will be tangible!”i

Nov 21, Doc 1.jpg

Communion represents ‘oneness’—those things that make up our intimate connection and worship of God. Community represents aspects of ‘togetherness’—those things we share with each other as we live our lives together. And mission represents ‘otherness’—the aspects of our life together that focus on people outside our community.”ii

I can quickly give mental assent to this description of the Kingdom. It’s chock-full of missional-incarnational-community language that I’ve been steeped in as an apprentice of Cam Roxburgh over the years. But a life of communion, community and mission—living as a citizen of King Jesus’ realm—is not just a proposition I give a nod to, or a neat box for explaining a spiritual truth.

Choosing citizenship means action. It means intentionally striding toward the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14). And it means shedding all other attachments and allegiances in order to squeeze through that hole in the wall.

The authors of the TK Primer explain it this way:

“Nothing good ever comes easy. For sure, nothing of God’s Kingdom comes without resistance from our personal kingdoms or the world’s kingdom. Nothing of the Spirit of God comes without a good ol’ fashioned bar fight from our flesh….

God’s ways are natural, but they aren’t easy—especially at first. New ways of life must be formed in us through hours, days, and years of intentional practice. The future of your own faith and the incarnational presence of your community is ultimately about letting the Spirit of God re-orient everything about you.”iii

A Picture of Citizenship
This citizenship process is difficult, but not impossible. In Acts 2, we get a clear and beautiful glimpse of what happens when God’s people surrender to His Spirit and His Kingdom way; the Good News that God offers Himself to all is proven when He empowers those who say yes to respond by offering their all.

 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:37-47).

The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Wow. Yes please, Lord! So how does the Kingdom advance in this passage? Notice what begins to happen when hearers of the Good News let the Gospel take over in their own lives. It infiltrates every area of their devotion and action, and soon other people start to notice. And then those other people begin to surrender their all to living in the Good News of the Kingdom and the Spirit-led cycle continues.

Peter shows us the need for clear preaching and admonition, but this movement exploded because people believed what he said about Jesus with not only their minds, but their hearts and voices and wallets and calendars and homes and refrigerators. That’s evangelism.

Devoted. Everyday. Everyone. Everything.
I’ve read and prayed through this passage so many times over the years because it’s this type of abundant life that I covet for my family and my church and my neighbourhood. But when I opened again to Acts 2 the other day, God’s Spirit nudged me to consider whether I myself am living as a devoted citizen of God’s Kingdom. The conversation went like this:

Spirit: “All the believers were together.”

Cailey: “You mean, like, in the-same-place-spending-time-together type of together? Or emotionally together—like a shared purpose?”

Spirit: “All the believers were together. Every day they continued to meet together.”

Cailey: “I can dig it! With a few people. I’m kind of introverted, as you obviously know.”

Spirit: “All the believers were together.”

Cailey: “Like, the ones I get along with?”

Spirit: “Nope. All.”

Cailey: “How about the ones I know I can trust?”

Spirit: “Nope. All. Trust Me.”

Cailey: “How about the ones who have the same core value statements?”

Spirit:  “They had everything in common.”

Cailey: “You mean like they lent each other their stuff?”

Spirit: “Yes. And they shared their pain. And their joy. And their love for the place where I planted them. That’s why they sold property to give to anyone as they had need.”

Cailey: “As in, when they could afford it they gave offerings to support people who were trying to get back on their feet.”

Spirit: “No. I mean they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Cailey: “What if they don’t deserve it?”

Spirit: “What do you deserve?”

Cailey: “Touché, Lord. But what if they misuse the gift?”

Spirit: “If you’re asking that question, it wasn’t a gift.”

Cailey: “I don’t think I can do this.”

Spirit: “That’s why you have them! And Me!”

The Gospel news of God’s presence, His reign, and His constant, all-out search has been the reality since the beginning of time and is the reality today. Yes, one day we will have fully-realized heavenly life when the darkness of sin and separation from God no longer seeks to block out the warmth and light of Christ and the radiance of His Bride (us living together in the unity of the Spirit). But the Kingdom is already among us, as Jesus declared and His people have been declaring for twenty centuries.

When we—the citizens of that Kingdom—submit ourselves to the reign of the King, aligning our will with His, our very lives will point to this Good News, and our “evangelistic” declaration of truth will no longer be a hollow and awkward statement of beliefs, but a simple and natural explanation of why and how our lives are marked with contagious and brilliant Light. Sounds like good news to me!

Next week, we’ll jump into Advent by taking a look at some of the Old Testament promises and prophecies about Jesus, and the strong thread of a Kingdom of Justice that winds its way throughout history and Jesus’ teachings while He was here on earth.

i. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, The Tangible Kingdom Primer: An Eight-Week Guide to Incarnational Community (CRM Empowering Leaders: 2009): 202.

ii. Graphic and quote from Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, The Tangible Kingdom Primer: An Eight-Week Guide to Incarnational Community (CRM Empowering Leaders: 2009): 201

iii. Ibid: viii.

Family Matters

By Cailey Morgan

A few weeks ago, we looked at 1 Peter, the letter Peter wrote to the scattered church to remind them of God’s right-side-up way of living in an upside-down world. The letter branded gentile Christians as the children of Abraham, stating that in God’s family, there is no barrier between the Jews and any other nationality. Peter then called out the men to disown the cultural patriarchy of the day and treat the women in their home as equals. Paul writes identically in his note to the church in Galatia: 

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Some things have changed since the apostles wrote those words, but the brokenness of  humanity remains the same. And part of that brokenness is that we idolize the world’s definition of power and strength, and by doing so miss out on the opportunity to being led by those with a different skill set, or those who are seen as not as strong from a worldly perspective. This demographic often includes female leaders.


I’m grateful to be part of an association of churches that has been ordaining women for church leadership since 1959. But do we as the CBWC fully understand our need for women to step into these roles? And are we doing everything we can to help support the female leaders around us in our churches and new church plants?

As God’s kids and ambassadors, one purpose of our ministry of reconciliation—of helping our Father in His work to turn things right-side-right—is to live together as an example of how things should be: a foretaste of Jesus’ Kingdom (Lesslie Newbigin and 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). And until we’ve seen leaders male and female, young and old, new immigrant and aboriginal, raised up and supported in equality to build up the church the way God has equipped and called them (Ephesians 4), I have to say we’re not yet doing our job.

So, here I share an article that calls us to consider the role of women in church leadership—and church planting in particular—and some practical ways we can move forward in enacting the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

We Need More Lydias In Church Planting

This article is shared with permission from author Tiffany Smith of the North American Mission Board. https://www.sendinstitute.org/we-need-more-lydias-in-church-planting/ 

Our current culture has manifested a heightened awareness of social justice issues which gives the church an opportunity to demonstrate and model clear and sacred responses amid the clashing secular voices.  One area where the church’s beauty is displayed is in God’s design for men and women to be partnered in ministry to advance the Gospel and plant new churches.  The North American church, currently comprised of slightly more women than men[1], has an empowered regiment of gifted women to be catalyzed on mission.

The Great Commission mandate is not gender specific; but rather, men and women are co-laborers and synergetic in community and mission.  As men and women weave their giftedness together to embrace our collective mission, the church is empowered to exponentially impact the lost world.  No matter your ecclesiology or polity today, we can celebrate how women are vital in the flourishing of the church and in church planting. This obviously plays out differently in various denominations; however, the fact that women are strategic players in the mission of God is part of God’s beautiful design.

For every significant male we see throughout the book of Acts, there is a significant female mentioned in the expansion of the Gospel and the church.  Paul himself partnered with women in his church planting efforts.  Lydia was a businesswoman who became the first European convert; she led others to be baptized and the church in Philippi was planted in her house (Acts 16).  Paul says Euodia and Syntyche “labored side by side with [him] in the gospel” (Phil. 4:3) and Phoebe helped Paul along with many others (Rom 16).  Women have always been leaders in church planting – from the very beginning.

We are at a significant moment in time where we can seek to catalyze the leadership capacity and power of women throughout the church and within the church planting arena.

Imagine the potential and possibilities of transformational impact by the church if we expanded our concept of church planting beyond the main lead church planter to include all those involved – church planting teams, administrators, mobilizers, and outreach leaders!  If everyone in the church is to be involved in Gospel expansion and multiplication, then the church as a whole has a stake in the movement and the impact is exponentially dynamic – the apostolic church unleashed!

There is a significant shift rippling through leadership circles to spur women toward various expressions of their gifts in the church planting arena.  Across denominations we see women in key roles as church planting coaches, assessment directors, church planting catalysts, demographic researchers, strategists, city or regional network coordinators, and emerging leader directors – just to name a few.

What if the doors of church planting were swung wide open for a Samaritan woman at the well, a wealthy businesswoman from Philippi, or someone who has been sitting in your church waiting for a new pioneering opportunity?

Widening Opportunities

No matter your theological conviction, there are ways to integrate women into church planting and empower the church to function and flourish in new innovative approaches.  So, how can we chart new pathways and widen the pipeline for female leaders?  How can we expand our current thinking to incorporate women more strategically in the church planting aspects of the church?

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Forge a synergetic culture. Cultivate a culture of modeling how women are strategic in the church planting efforts of the church. Make sure to include single women and not just church planter wives. Be purposeful and repetitious in demonstrating through words and action the value of the women leaders in your church and in various areas of church planting. Highlight the beauty of the body of Christ working together in synergy.
  2. Be creative. Look for creative ways to incorporate women into the various facets of church planting. The pioneering nature of church planting inherently fosters new opportunities and pathways for women to serve in their giftedness.  Women are uniquely positioned in strategic areas of the neighborhood and marketplace to influence others for the cause of Christ. Use their platforms and relational webs for the advancement of the Kingdom.
  3. Increase visibility. Women should be visible and celebrated on stage in church leadership and in the multiplication of churches – praying, discipling, and serving.  Elevate women leaders to thrive in their giftedness; and in doing so, teach and model the unity and diversity of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12) to the church and to the watching world.
  4. Amplify giftedness. Focus upon giftedness and character without regard to gender whenever possible.  Seek out ways to open up new opportunities for women to infuse their gifts and talents throughout the ministries of the church, including church planting.
  5. Reframe. Reframe the concept of church planting to go beyond the lead planter to include teams and gifted leaders who help develop and grow the church plant; this will naturally open doors for women, but also for other leaders in the church who are not called to be the lead church planter.
  6. Purposefully Empower.  Seek out and empower women to serve in the church planting efforts or on a planting team.  This must be strategic and intentional because it has not been common practice.  Just as you would seek out and cultivate male leaders in the church, look to do the same with women and purposely consider facets of church planting.

For the sake of advancing the Kingdom of God, how do we work toward normalizing female leadership, not as the exception or rare case, but as part of God’s design for the church to be on mission together?   Tony Merida powerfully encourages women by stating, “Missional women have always played a vital role in the advancement of the gospel. The church—as the bride for whom Christ bled, died, and was raised—ought to be a place where women are loved, taught, respected, heard, and deployed for service. They should thrive as Christ’s ambassadors in the world, as they are built up in him.” [2]

This exhortation can also be applied to the various facets within the church planting arena. We need more Lydias in church planting. Let us boldly move forward together for such a time as this.


  1. What specific words and actions can I take as a leader in the church to cultivate a healthy and encouraging environment for women to thrive in multiple leadership aspects of the church, including within the church planting arena?
  2. Are there currently women in the church that I can encourage and equip to serve in various roles in church planting efforts?
  3. How can I help to swing the door open wide for women and other leaders to be involved in the church planting efforts of the church?


[1] Pew Research.  “Religious Landscape Study: Evangelical Protestants.”  2014.  http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/religious-tradition/evangelical-protestant/  Accessed May 6, 2018.

[2]  Tony Merida.  “How to Train and Mobilize Women in Your Church.” April 26, 2018.  Accessed May 9, 2018.


Power Made Perfect in Weakness

There is nothing stronger in the universe than the power of God. And I am His child.


Do you believe that statement? Do I lean on that strength? Do we decide and discern through that reality?

Last week, I mentioned how living in God’s Kingdom means learning a new way to think and to act—processing the upside-down world through His right-side-up lenses: In His Kingdom, the last shall be first. In His Kingdom, there’s a new definition of success. In His Kingdom, the way we treat people is transformed. Power is perfected in weakness.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Through some of my reading lately, I’ve been convicted about my own addiction to power as the world defines it—my illness of valuing my role as a leader because it gives me power for the sake of control: I’m proud to be developing a reputation for getting stuff accomplished. I can say “do this” and people do it. I’m in control. And if that’s the twisted view to which I can succumb as the part-time pastor of 15 high school students, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for more influential leaders to lean on the strength of the Father and follow the way of Jesus into humility and death of self.

I would go so far as to say we have an epidemic on our hands.

How did we get here? Church, I believe we have set our leaders up for failure by imposing kingdom-of-the-world expectations on those we simultaneously expect to lead us into the Kingdom of God. We respect and follow dynamic personalities and religious performers the same way our culture puts musicians and actors on a pedestal. Words like “new,” “strong,” “big,” “young,” “influential” have automatic positive connotations while “humble,” “established,” and even “mature” in some contexts can be seen in a negative light. In The Way of the Dragon or The Way of The Lamb, Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin address this sickness of power-hunger in the western church in the context of what we value in our pastoral leaders:

We are looking more for a proven professional than someone humbly called. We are looking more for a polished businessman than a seasoned shepherd. We are looking for someone who is powerful and in control.1

These sound like strong words, and in some ways they are. But the Church as a whole isn’t just to blame. We as leaders secretly—and sometimes not-so-secretly—take pleasure in the applause, take pride in the influence, take the glory for the accomplishments.

So what do we do? If we want to live like Jesus, we need to dive headlong into His lifestyle: relying completely in the power of God, eradicating the addiction to worldly power. Goggin and Strobel not only point out the symptoms of power-sickness, but provide hope of healing through various paradigm shifts and practices rooted in the life of Jesus and the history of God’s people. If I could, I’d post the entirety of their book here for your edification. Instead, I will recommend that you read it, and in the meantime I will share a couple paragraphs of their insight into three antidotes we have against “controlitis.”

1. Always Start By Praying. It Helps us Rely on God 

Beginning with prayer is not merely a tip of the hat to God. It’s not a cliché: “Don’t forget to pray first.” Rather, we begin with a posture of abiding in, and depending upon, God in the deep places of our hearts, because God is the source and goal of our power. When we open our hearts in prayerful abiding, what we first discover is that we have false beliefs residing there. Therefore, we don’t begin with prayer as a device for getting things done, but as a means of communing with God who transforms the heart and lead us in the way.

Prayer is being with God who is always with us. And “being with” necessitates honesty. We are with God in the truth of our hearts. In prayer we open our hearts to his living presence, exposing areas where unbelief reigns. Only His presence can purge these places of darkness and form them in love. …in prayer we embrace our weakness and depend upon God’s power to transform the heart. The heart is the first, but not the only, battlefield where God’s power in weakness must conquer in love (Emphasis added).2

2. Prioritize People By Choosing Weakness
Goggin and Strobel’s book takes readers into the lives of several Christians who they believe espouse Jesus’ way of living as a leader. In their conversations with Eugene Peterson, he says this:

The great temptation of power is control, and the great consequence of control is lack of relationship. The reason that intimacy is so difficult in ministry is you’re not in control—you’re in relationship, You have to enter a person’s life and they have to enter yours. The minute you start becoming obsessed with control, you lose the relationship…So I think somehow we have to find ways to cultivate a sense of nobodyness. Paul certainly did that. Weakness was his strength.3

And Strobel and Goggin continue:

[The pastor following the way of the dragon is] intoxicated by fame and power. The way of the Lamb is committed to worship, pursues God in the ordinary, and is faithful in hiddenness…Jesus invites pastors into His way of shepherding. In His way, power is found in weakness, and power is expressed in love. We don’t shepherd faithfully by simply observing his behavior in the Gospels and trying our best to copy his act, but by participating in this way by the Holy Spirit. The word Peter uses is partaker. We are invited to partake in His way….We are under-shepherds of the chief Shepherd. We serve a role of stewardship, not ownership.4

3. Dig into Self-Awareness and Humility
The questions I’m posing below, from Way of the Dragon or Way of the Lamb, are prickly. I don’t like them very much, and have personally brushed them off as “no, you’re talking about someone else” until I left the Holy Spirit put His thumb on the true pulse of my proud heart. And still I’m prone to bat His hand away, but those lessons I have managed to accept have been so helpful to me and my outlook on how I see myself, my role, and others. So I encourage you to not just glance over them and say “oh phew, not me!” but to sit in them and reflect on concrete realities in your life and ministry.

  • Do you use the church as a platform for personal fame, fortune or influence? The pastor gives their life for the sake of the church, regardless of what they gain.
  • Do you view ministry as an arena of performance, where some win and some lose?  The pastor views ministry as an arena of love and service, not winning and losing.
  • Do you see the people of your church as tools to accomplish your big dreams? The pastor embraces their congregation as people to know and love, not tools to use for other ends.
  • Do you relegate prayer and care, the heart of pastoral ministry, to ‘lower-level’ staff? The pastor views prayer and care as the centrepiece of their work rather than an interruption.
  • Do you view other local pastors primarily as competition? The pastor views other pastors as fellow shepherds on the journey, whom they need for encouragement and wisdom, and whom they are called to encourage and love

I hope you’ve read this article as permission to consider a life of leadership that’s more than a hamster wheel or gleaming stage. I hope you’ve been reminded of the pure goodness of our Shepherd, and that He wants to give us abundant life beyond what we could gain from a big crowd or a “successful” ministry. And I hope for you what Paul, Silas and Timothy hoped for their church in Thessalonika: “that our God may count you worthy of his calling (ie, persecution and suffering for His Kingdom), and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of your and every act prompted by your faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

Or returning to Eugene Peterson, here’s the verse in the Message paraphrase:

We pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something.

If you disagree with anything I’ve written here, or have more to say on this topic that could help our readers across the CBWC, I really want to hear from you. Shoot me an email at cmorgan@cbwc.ca, comment on the blog, or leave a message at the office: 604.420.7646 and I’d love to have a conversation.


  1. Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin, The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb (Thomas Nelson, 2017): 141.
  2. Ibid: 196-197.
  3. Ibid: 136
  4. Ibid: 143