Potential Impact Report

By Shannon Youell

Do we approach God and His calling on our lives with fisted hands, holding tightly to things we have already determined or with open hands, willing to allow God to inform and shape our futures? Do we allow God to fill our empty cups and then are we able to drink the cup he has given us?

This was the opening focus to more than twenty young adults from Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan, gathered at Gull Lake Camp April 27-30 to challenge the next generation to focus on spiritual direction, an openness to ministry potential, and general calling and leadership in their life. Facilitated by CBWC ministry leaders and pastors, the Potential Impact conference metaphor quickly formed around the charging rhinoceros, who can see only twenty feet in front of itself yet knows that to see the next twenty feet requires stepping into the unseen-ness of the future.

47101_Chosen_Sermon_Series

Using a three-fold framework of Spiritual Direction, Deeper Personal Understanding, and Openness and Exposure to Ministry Potential, we went on a journey of self-discovery of Who Am I, Where Do I Fit, How am I Unique, What am I to do and Where have I been/where am I going. Facilitated by Chris Maclure, Tammy Klassen, Dennis Stone, Mark Archibald, Steve Roadhouse, Debi Burt and myself, these topics were engaged through sessional teachings and activities, faith stories, small group coaching, worship, prayer, reflection and–of course–by rambunctious times of basketball, floor hockey, arrow tag, ping pong tournaments, campfires, star-gazing, sharing meals, to name just a few of the things we did together.

The call to join God where He is at work no matter where life leads was dominant in both the presentations and in the small group coaching. In these peer sessions, participants could wrestle with the presented material and “engage in the topics of identity and call” with speakers and coaches who “were awesome, encouraging, helpful and practical.”

The conference organizers are keenly aware that engaging and empowering young people for ministry potential is crucial to continue in the work of the kingdom of God generationally. This is, after all, a component of making disciples who make disciples. Developing and raising/releasing leaders into whatever their sphere of influence as “ministers of reconciliation” will be, is our responsibility as the generations before them. And it will be their responsibility to the generations who come after them.

[Mis]managing Risk

By Dr. Scott Hagley

I didn’t recognize the risk when I first strolled out of Home Depot with several eight-foot cedar boards and posts over my shoulder. I neglected to consider the possibility of failure when I started digging up my front yard. But when the cedar boards had been cut and built into an 8’x4’ box, and made into a raised garden bed in my front yard, my wife and I suddenly realized the public nature of our experiment in gardening. A neighbor watched us work all morning. After the box was put together and the front lawn dug up, he strolled across the street to wonder out loud why we would put a garden where everyone can see it, from which children can steal produce, and perfect strangers can pass judgment.

mismanaging-risk-in-church-planting.jp

Gardening with an Audience

To be honest, we had not considered these possibilities when we began. We previously lived in a condo on the West coast, where yards were the luxury of the wealthy. The narrow strip of sun-bathed lawn out our front door looked like an ideal place for a garden. But our neighbor was right. The plants could be damaged by neighborhood kids looking for trouble. We might, in the end, only display our dismal gardening skills for the entire neighborhood. Perhaps we could have started smaller, in pots on our back porch. But we tried that for years living in a condo in Vancouver. And, living in a temperate rain forest, we managed to kill everything we ever planted. Our enthusiasm carried the day. We plunged ahead, our first foray in urban gardening.

As we filled the raised bed with soil, other neighbors and several strangers – on their way to grab coffee or walk their dogs in the park – stopped to reflect with us on our new venture. Several people offered advice; a few neighbors and strangers gave us seeds and starter plants. Over the course of the summer, a number of elderly folks made weekly trips to our front yard to offer advice, critique, and dispense decades of hard-earned gardening wisdom. We listened, asked questions, sometimes nodded without understanding what people said to us . . . but we continued to work the soil expectantly. Some crops were failures and some seeds didn’t take. But others grew so abundantly that we gave away produce for weeks: collard greens and kale, anyone? Seriously. Anyone?

Planting Safely

It seems to me that participation in God’s mission in post-Christendom North America looks a lot like our garden experiment. While many in our congregations recognize the need to engage new initiatives—participate in church planting or discover new ways to build community in their neighborhood—we tend to minimize risk, protect our reputation, and plant little safe experiments in our back yard. We tweak an existing program. We get crazy and serve coffee before Sunday worship. And, like gardening on our condo balcony in Vancouver, we tend to reap minimal benefits from playing it safe and saving our reputations.

Encountering God

I think the reason these safe experiments fail is because they keep our knowledge in-house, they simply work with what we already know and what we already believe to be true. They are an attempt to participate in God’s mission without the risk and disruption that comes from unexpected learning. But what if we decided to make our ignorance and uncertainty about mission in post-Christendom public? What if we decided to cultivate intentional spaces within our neighborhoods where we —the congregation or the church planter or the missional community leader—invite our neighbors to instruct us, to dispense wisdom, to share their gifts with us? Is it possible that God might lead and shape us through the gifts, wisdom, and concerns of our neighbors? Is it possible that we might be surprised where we encounter God?

In the book of Acts, the Spirit puts strangers together for the sake of mutual discovery. Cornelius discovers God’s grace in Jesus Christ, and Peter discovers God’s acceptance of Gentiles. An Ethiopian official discovers new depths to Isaiah’s prophecies and Philip discovers the boundary-breaking grace of God. Perhaps it is time we dig up the dirt in our front yards without a full consideration of the risks it entails. Seriously . . . collards . . . anyone?

“[Mis]managing Risk,” written by Dr. Scott Hagley, assistant professor of missiology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, first appeared on the Seminary’s blog March 16, 2017. The Seminary offers multiple programs for those interesting in church planting including the Graduate Certificate in Church Planting and Revitalization, Master of Divinity with Church Planting Emphasis, and the Church Planting Initiative. Learn more about these programs online.

Seven-Day Missional Living

By Cid Latty, Congregational Development Associate for the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec

Everyone seems to be telling us to be more mission minded but few give us practical ways to do it in the midst of our busy lives. This week, why not try the Missional Challenge? We have based it on a monastic weekly schedule that includes prayer, scripture, manual labour, service and hospitality. Our prayer this week is that together we might “live up to what we have attained” in Christ (Philippians 3:16).

Cid_Latty.png

Day 1—Start the week with God

To spend time with God is not a waste of time but the fuel for our missional activity. Spend time with God in a way that may be new to you today. You could search for a scripture, poem, hymn or sacred song to give focus. Take a walk and pray as you worship God.

Day 2—Live simply

Give away something that is valuable to you. Other ideas: pay for someone’s cup of coffee, get the next person’s food, gas, etc.

Day 3—Service

Recall what inspired you to become a Christian. Give the people who come to mind a call or send an email to say thank you. Look to serve someone today in what we might call the mundane things of life. Who do you know who needs Jesus? Spend time with them today. Pray for an opportunity to share faith with them.

Day 4—Believe

We have been taught to say ‘In Christ’ but rarely have we been taught to say ‘I can,’ Let us memorize the whole verse today: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Philippians 4:13.

Day 5—Hospitality

Send a friend or family member a word of encouragement today. Make or buy cakes to leave in the kitchen at work for people to take for free. Find a way to offer your skill set today. Take someone for lunch or find a way to use your home to host someone you know. Intentionally speak words of encouragement today.

Day 6—Love

Ask God to show you someone you can be a person of peace towards. Find a food bank that you can serve in some way.

Day 7—Pray for the world

Take one issue from the news today and pray about it. Remember to pray for those who are being persecuted. For more details about praying for the persecuted church see www.idop.ca.

See also CBM prayer line:

http://www.cbmin.org/prayerline

If you take Cid up on his Missional Challenge, let us know how it goes! What did God teach you? What did you see?

Re-Lent

By Joell Haugan

Again we find ourselves immersed in the Lent season where we set aside something (often time, or fasting of various types) and replace it with some directed meditation in preparation of Good Friday and Easter. It is a powerful yearly spiritual exercise that is often lost on evangelicals—myself included.

Then I thought about the word “relent” and wondered if there was a connection of some kind. Turns out the root word is different, but that doesn’t prevent me from making a connection anyway!

Relent, of course, means to give in and become less aggressive while conceding the point. So, in an argument, the person who relents is the one who finally says “OK, you are right, I give up.” In a March storm (which all of Canada seems to be getting) the wind finally relents, stops and is replaced by placid (and often beautiful) calm.

Obviously, Christians often need to relent with God and concede to Him the point (whatever it may be). We often need to drop our defensive, aggressive stance of stubbornness and let God be in charge of life….again and again.

I often wonder if churches need to relent too. I wonder if the Holy Spirit is actually prompting churches, attempting to get us to see the harvest right in our own neighbourhoods instead of ignoring those very people that God has plopped us in the middle of. Prompting us to become churches that participate in Kingdom tasks beyond our own siloed (only our little group) jobs. Prompting churches to express God’s love in concrete ways in our cities/towns/areas instead of just assuming they will “get it.” And perhaps He’s prompting our churches to multiplying our ministries to new towns and new neighbourhoods instead of us trying get more people to drive further to our one location.

What is God trying to say to you? To your particular gathering of the saints which we call Church?

Maybe this Lent we can relent to God’s prompting in our personal and our corporate church lives.

Joell.

Communication and Engagement

by Cailey Morgan

One of our goals for the coming year is to build our network by connecting with the following people:

  • Potential church planters and church communities working toward multiplication from within the CBWC.
  • Potential church planters from within the greater Western Canada context.
  • Potential new affiliations: church communities who do not yet belong to a family of churches.

In order to help us reach these goals, we’re participating in several local networking events. Last week,  Joell took part in the Missions Conference at Millar Seminary. Next weekend, January 27-29, Shannon and I are hosting a booth at MissionsFest Vancouver. Come find us in booth A06 if you’re in the neighbourhood!

In preparation for sharing our story and our dreams at these events, we put together some promotional cards to help explain 4 ways that individuals, small groups, and churches can engage with Church Planting. Since many of you, our readers, are part of the CBWC family and have some kind of interest in our ministry, we’d really covet your feedback on these cards, and your opinions on how these methods of engagement could work or would need to be adapted for your context.

So here are the engagement cards in their entirety for your perusal. Please read through these cards with a hopeful, prayerful and critical eye, and contact us with your thoughts and ideas of how you and your congregation could engage, and of ways to improve how we communicate. Email me at cmorgan@cbwc.ca or leave a response on WordPress.

smallcp_belong_page_1

Belong Front Page

smallcp_bolster

Bolster Front Page

smallcp_initiate_page_1

Initiate Front Page

smallcp_multiply_page_1

Multiply Front Page

smallcp_multiply_page_2

Back Page

Thanks for your engagement!

Missional Margin

By Cailey Morgan

I’m guessing some of you chuckled when you read my previous article—as if you’d have time to sit around sipping coffee in a garden! But part of the example we see from Christ is that He always had margin: white space around the content of His day so that He could engage in relational spontaneity.

He walked in a pace of trust in the Father, that what needed to get done would get done.

Margin creates buffers. It gives us room to breathe, freedom to act and time to adapt. Only then will we be able to truly nourish our relationships. Only then will we be available and interruptible for the purposes of God (Richard Swenson).

5374200948_539b10fb1c_b

If we seek to follow Christ into where He is at work in our communities, we’ll need the space in our days to listen and to go. I call creating these margins “time-trust.” These three “A”s from Brad Brisco are practical ways we can grow in this area:

1. Audit
Write down and study your weekly schedule and monthly schedule. Where is there margin? Where is there a lack of margin? What are some things that might need to go or change in order to not live at a hurried pace? Take a look at your daily routine, too. Where could you incorporate a listening time? Where are you sharing space with others but not actually relating with them?

2. Alignment
Margin is not about addition of another thing, but alignment. Align your calendar with the calendars of other people. Taking eating for example. We all eat 21 meals a week. Can we share 4 or 5 of them with others?

Can we find a ride-share for daily commutes? Can we do the dishes when the kids are in bed, in order to be available to play street hockey with the neighbours after dinner? Take a close look at the rhythms of your neighbours, coworkers and friends. How can you align your rhythm with theirs?

3. Accountability
These three processes are great to do in a small group, with a mentor, or even as a family. Work together to find creative ways to realign your schedule for the sake of mission.

One element of time-trust that I haven’t mentioned yet is Sabbath. It’s too huge of a topic for here, but I’d argue that it’s monumental for anyone looking to live a missional rhythm of life. I’ll soon post a couple of reviews on books about the Sabbath that I think are worth a read. In the meantime, here’s a helpful article on the Sabbath by Forge Canada Director Cam Roxburgh.

In my next article, I’ll share some thoughts about second and third places, and how we can put our trust in God and our time alignment to good practice away from home.

This is the fifth article in a series. Read the other posts here:

  1. Why, Oh Why?
  2. The Missionary Nature of God and His Church
  3. Incarnational Presence
  4. Space to be Truly Present
  5. Missional Margin
  6. Missional Mindset in Everyday Spaces

Incarnational Presence

By Cailey Morgan

In my previous article, “The Missionary Nature of God and His Church,” I mentioned that there are several paradigm shifts or renewed ways of thinking that we as the Church in Canada should consider if we want to reawaken ourselves to God’s call to mission.

One such shift in paradigm is to consider how Jesus’ words in Matthew 28: “go and make Disciples” may actually mean “stay and make disciples.” As much as international missionaries are sent to delve deeply into the culture and day-to-day life of the place they are called to, Jesus sends us out our front doors and invites us to delve deeply with the culture and day-to-day life of our neighbours, coworkers, and the other parents on the elementary school Advisory Council.

STAY sign CCSA Glenn G

Proximity and Presence
Most of my musings here are inspired from a workshop on Missional Essentials by Brad Brisco. He’s done his homework on these issues, and reminds us that Scripture is full of examples and exhortations for God’s “gathered and scattered” people to be sent into really ordinary, everyday places. Our primary example, of course, is Christ Himself.

In John 20:21, Jesus says, “just as the Father sent Me, I am sending you.” If we are sent just as Jesus was sent, we should look at how and to whom Jesus was sent in order to establish how we also are sent. His sending from the Father was to be among us. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Read the gospels to see how the ins-and-outs of daily life were Jesus’ platform for most of His ministry and teachings. This kind of presence, this kind of among-ness, exemplifies the humility and other-mindedness we are to have as we engage our neighbours (consider Christ’s nature of humble service as described in Philippians 2:5-8). He dwelt among, and emptied Himself for, those who needed to receive the hope He offers.

Darrell Guder puts it this way:

In the incarnation of Jesus, God revealed Himself as the one who is with and for His creation. Now, as the Risen Lord sends His Spirit to empower the church, we are called to become God’s people present in the world, with and for the world.

Our posture must change from doing ministry to, or even ministry for, to ministry with. With is a much closer, much more patient, even much more intimate way of gospelling. But to be with, we must address the barriers that are keeping us apart from our culture and our neighbours.

Advocate or Adversary?
For many reasons far beyond the socio-political understanding in my tiny mind, the Christian Church is often seen as the adversary in our culture. We say “no” a lot. We sometimes come across as judgmental. We like to put boxes around behaviour. And—as all humans naturally do—we tend to hang out with people who like us and are like us.

But what Jesus exemplified for us, what the Holy Spirit does daily for us, is not adversary but advocacy. The Holy Spirit is called the Advocate because He is for us and with us to offer His strength. And we have been called to follow in this posture of advocating for others rather than being about our own agendas.

An interesting example of this incarnational advocacy can be found in Jeremiah 29:4-7. God sends (Yes, sends. There it is again!) His people into Babylonian captivity. They hate Babylon and want to go home. It’s not comfortable, and besides, how can they worship God in such a heathen place? But what does God say? Settle down and make a garden! Embed yourself in the community. You’ll be here long enough to have kids and for your kids to have kids. Seek and pray for the prosperity of the place.

This 70-year exile was a slow but deliberate way for the Israelites to fulfill their original mandate from God to Abraham: be a blessing to all nations. And God is calling us to the same life today: to open our eyes to the people around us in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. To hitch our wagon to our neighbours. To seek the prosperity and peace of the places we live.

As Brad Brisco explains, “The way the Kingdom takes root in the lives of people, and ultimately changes a city, is by exiles living normal everyday lives as citizens of the King in every neighbourhood and public place that makes up a city.”

What does it practically look like in the whirlwind of 21st-century North American life to daily seek the prosperity and peace of our communities? How do we expand our imaginations and truly understand our dual citizenship as not only Canadians but children of the King? What if I don’t know my neighbours yet? These are the questions I’ll wrestle with in my next article.

If you’d rather hear from Brisco on these topics, check out Missional Essentials, a brilliant and down-to-earth 12-week curriculum to help your small groups or leadership team explore these and several other biblical directives.

This is the third article in a series. Read the other posts here:

  1. Why, Oh Why?
  2. The Missionary Nature of God and His Church

  3. Incarnational Presence
  4. Space to be Truly Present
  5. Missional Margin
  6. Missional Mindset in Everyday Spaces

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.

Praying

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!

Equipping

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, churchplantingatcbwc.wordpress.com, 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 syouell@cbwc.ca.