Live at NMO

By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan

We blog live from New Ministers Orientation 2019 at Carey Theological College where we are gathered as CBWC staff, 5 planting pastors, 12 lead/senior pastors, 3 associate pastors, 3 children/youth/young adult pastors, 2 discipleship/congregation care pastors and 1 chaplain!   Together we are discovering the shared work we do as a family of churches who are interconnected in ministry, and the impact we are able to collectively have both within our particular congregations and beyond into our neighbourhoods.

The question the church planting team is asking is:  Why do we plant churches? Why do we multiply? Why do we care whether there is an expression of God’s Kingdom in our neighbourhood?  This is what we have been exploring with ministers and church planters from across Western Canada this week. 


Church Planting Director Shannon Youell with Arash Azad, Jessica Lee, Allan Santos, Mouner Alajji and Tim Ngai.

For  us, the why we do things isn’t to make more churches – that is the result of our why. Start With the Why author Simon Sinek reminds us that understanding our why is crucial before we adopt a how. When we fully understand our why, we can then rethink, reframe and reimagine our hows to get our what, which is new and renewed expressions of gathered and scattered communities of faithful presence in the places we live, work, play and pray in, where we relationally disciple the people we live among.

Church planters Allan Santos (GCF Calgary planting GCF Red Deer), Mouner Alajji (Hope Christian Church of Calgary), Arash Azad (Emmanuel Iranian Church North Vancouver) and Jessica Lee and Tim Ngai (Makarios Evangelical Church, New Westminster) shared with us their unique expressions of bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God into their particular contexts. Each emphasized their intentionality in training, equipping and forming missional disciples who serve and reproduce themselves.  

Their stories, their hearts and their passion encouraged our hearts. We, too, as members of the CBWC family these new works have asked to join, can bless and encourage their hearts, as each one of us and our churches join God at work in the harvest field by enabling these leaders to do the work they do. This requires us sharing in both the cost and the joy of the new churches.  They should not, and can not, labour on their own.  Just as the first churches sowed into the support and ministry of the newer churches, so must we.  

If we all generously participate the burden is eased and the load is light.  

New churches are the result of our engaging the world God so loves and being faithfully present with people for the purpose of building deep-rooted relationships that morph into discipling of those we are engaged with and who see, in our friendship and care for them, an image of God’s kingdom plan of reconciliation: humans to God, humans to one another and to all created things.

CBWC is equally as passionate about seeing fresh expressions of God-With-Us within our existing congregations too.  Discipleship is a pathway of engaging Christ and Community that is life-long and a response to obedience to the mission Christ commissioned each and every one of us to.  Though discipleship includes learning and studying the Scriptures, it is much more about growing in and investing in relationships with those who both know Christ and those who do not yet know Christ.  

As we invest in the lives of others in deep and caring relationships, journeying with others, sowing into their lives the beauty and goodness of God-With-Humans, Us, Christ will be revealed and lives will be shaped and transformed .  

At NMO this week, we have seen and heard the testimonies of disciple-makers in new churches and long established churches,  that investing in relationships, cultivating leaders to engage in mission naturally begins to bear fruit that reproduces.

“The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you” (Exodus 34:10). 

Oh, and the answer, given by one of our pastors, about why we care whether there is an expression of God’s kingdom in our neighbourhood is this: God’s shalom is for all people.

Blog posts in your inbox!

Many of you will remember GO WEST!, the CBWC’s Church Planting enewsletter that went out every couple weeks. Well, while we’re not rebooting the newsletter per se, we are providing a new service for keeping updated on what’s happening in the Church Planting world.

New articles, videos, stories and insights are being posted to our Church Planting blog throughout the month. Subscribers to GO WEST! will now receive these blog posts straight to their email inboxes.

If you are not on the list, but would like to receive these updates, please email Cailey at You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking “unsubscribe from this list” at the bottom of the update.



As of October 31, Tom Lavigne completed his time as the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Director of Church Planting. Read the interview below to find out what he has been learning in the transition process.Tom-Lavigne

We’ll be taking a break from GO WEST! as we revision and work through various changes taking place in the ministry. However, we have other methods of keeping you up-to-date on our church plants and the ministry itself. Read the “Staying Connected” article for tips on keeping in touch with us throughout the adjustments.

Stay Connected

In this time of transition, we’ll be working out a number of changes in the Church Planting office in order to best serve the CBWC constituency. Therefore, this will be the last issue of GO WEST! for the time being, but there are plenty of other ways to stay connected.

  • We will continue to share stories and prayer requests on the Church Planting Blog: Subscribe to the feed by clicking here, or visit the blog and click the “Follow” button on the bottom of your browser window. By entering your email address, you’ll have all the Church Planting new sent right to your inbox.
  • All our blog entries are also posted on the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Facebook page for easy access.
  • We’ll continue to share stories as well through the CBWC’s wider monthly enewsletter Making Connections. Subscribe today.

And, Cailey will still be available to connect via email:, or at 604.420.7646. Thanks for being willing to stick with us amidst the adjustments!

Final Thoughts from Tom

GO WEST!: At the last leadership forum in Vancouver, we discussed how ministry brings with it all kinds of transitions. As you are in a transitional phase yourself, what advice can you offer others in a similar circumstance?

Tom: The initial thoughts are that we should be expecting transition to be an ongoing part of ministry. While some people hope that change never happens—it seems to be an inevitable part of ministry. Any advice I would give would be along the lines of staying especially close and sensitive to how God is leading, have lots of healthy communication with family, close friends and mentors. Also, the realization that while change or transition catches some of us by surprise; God is not sitting on the sidelines in a state of shock, so we can trust that He is very involved in the process, loves us deeply and has the best in store for us.

GW: What have you learned about yourself in the process?

Tom: I’m learning to be less fearful of what others think and more concerned with being obedient to God. It’s most important to please God in His process and timing than others and myself in our own plans and agendas.

GW: What are some of your fondest memories of your time as Director of Church Planting?

Wow, so many amazing things have happened over the past four years.

  • I’m very appreciative for the opportunity given me by Jeremy Bell, Jan Paasuke and the Staff and Board to come into the role with a lot of freedom and resources to help shape the Church Planting ministry in the CBWC.
  • Being a part of the stories of the lives of our Church Planters, their families and teams as they struggle, pray and wrestle through what it means to be a church family has been a huge blessing.
  • Parties at launches of new churches, baptisms of new believers, and seeing the “aha” moments in the faces of Church Planters when they realize that yes, God is indeed in this ministry.
  • Getting to work alongside a passionate staff team who do so much more than they ever get paid for and yet deliver amazing results time after time.

GW: Tell us something we didn’t know about you.

Tom: I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s clothing…but don’t tell anyone.

GW: What excites you as you look ahead? Any plans? Any ideas about where God might want you next?

What excites me looking ahead are the incredible opportunities that God has in store for each of us—as I look around I see God at work in so many people and places and I’m amazed at His goodness in allowing us to be a part of His great story. The only plans I have are to take a bit of time off (November/December) visiting with family and friends and taking some personal retreat and reflection time. I’m not sure where God would have us next—if you hear anything please let me know!

What are you celebrating?

This article is from GO WEST! Subscribe today!jump

Psalm 150 says, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Building our house took us way longer than we ever expected, cost us way more than we wanted to spend and caused us way more angst than we ever imagined. And then finally the big day arrived! One of the great joys of building a family home is the big day when you finally get to move in. In our case it was moving in on December 15th in -38 degree weather. Needless to say it was a quick unloading of all of our earthly possessions!

All the work and perspiration, the money and expense, the heartache and frustration culminate in a sense of awe and relief– we’ve arrived at last.

After sensing God’s call to plant a new church in our community we prayed and sought confirmation from God. We listened intently to the counsel of wise friends who’d been down the church planting road. And we developed relationships and friendships with people of peace. We were pretty excited, encouraged and a bit naïve. We invested large amounts of time and energy into trying to figure out what God was up to (with lots of surprises along the way). And finally the big day arrived! In church planting there is a tremendous anticipation that builds as you prepare to launch. All the prayer and visioning, the ideas and planning, the hopes and heartaches come together with a tremendous sense of awe – Lord, here we go!

At the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada we love to celebrate some of the great things that are happening in our Church Plants and partnering Churches. This past summer we’ve rejoiced in great times of fellowship at camps, amazing testimonies and baptisms, outreach activities and gospel concerts, and Church Plants investing in new Church Plants – awesome stories of Lord. Lord, here we go! Check some of our stories on our blog ,

Ed Stetzer tells us that, “What You Celebrate You Become.” Check out his article from Christianity Today. It’s an intriguing little series that challenges us to ask the questions of what, why, who, when, how and where do we celebrate God’s faithfulness in our midst. Let us know what you celebrate and how that looks – we’d love to hear more.

Louie Giglio shares some probing questions about celebrating the Church that Jesus is building. Check out his talk on YouTube.

At CBWC Church Planting we’d appreciate hearing your thoughts and stories on celebrating, church planting and what God is up to in your life. Please contact Tom at or Cailey at

Jesus, Master Builder

This article originally published in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne

Over the past 22 years of ministry I’ve been involved in several building projects. Beginning as a pastoral intern I helped oversee a  million-dollar expansion to a church and Christian school. While church planting we were involved in acquiring 6 property lots and renovating a former tire shop into our church’s activity centre, and at our last church we helped facilitate a major debt retirement and building upgrades. Oh, yes, and in the middle of that we built a house.carpenter

While we had lots of great training at Bible College about building our faith and congregational life there as nothing about literal construction. Still, Church Planting is a lot like constructing a new building. You move into a new area, you stake out your territory, you establish a firm foundation and develop your property, and you reach out and connect into your community.

Along the way you’re faced with lots of critical choices and decisions. Where do you want to locate? How much are you prepared to invest? How long are you willing to wait? What quality of product are you expecting? Who are you willing to work with? What compromises are you willing to make? And you answer these questions knowing that your project will take longer than expected, cost more than you’re initially willing to pay, and bring you to your knees in heartache (which may be the best place to operate from).

There is a tremendous sense of awe when you see a new church come to life and when you look upon a completed building project, even when you also know all the quirks in the construction.

I’ve learned much in life from my own and others’ successes and failures. Here are a couple of thoughts from wise builders of God’s Church.

Solomon, the wise king who oversaw the construction of God’s original temple in Jerusalem, makes a tremendous observation: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

The Reverend Dr. Paul Gordon Johnson, when called to ministry, sensed the Lord telling him, “Paul, don’t touch My gold and don’t touch My glory.” Life and ministry is all about God and unless He’s in it—no matter how gifted we think we are—then all our efforts are truly just vanities.

The apostle Paul put it this way: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation and another is building upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other that the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). Every single one of us only has an interim role in ministry. We’re not the end-all. Even if we are church planting, we’re building on the foundation of Jesus, the Gospel and the many thousands who’ve planted before us. We therefore also need to realize that each of us will be handing the baton of ministry off to the next generation—and we dare not drop the baton too soon or hang onto it too long.

We’d love to hear some of your construction stories, whether about building God’s physical temple or His spiritual house—a body of believers. Email me today at, or drop us a comment here on our blog.

Are you considering building a new plant? Or are you able to offer some of the financial, spiritual, or leadership foundations needed to buttress a young CBWC church? Watch this short video on the support networks of CBWC Church Plants, and let us know where you fit in the network.

The Intercultural Mandate

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

At times, we consider the idea of intercultural church to be just one model out of many for church planting. But is it possible that every congregation should in fact be striving towards this way of life? The following thoughts from Bob Rasmussen, OC International, can be found in his guidebook Leading Your Church through Intercultural Transformation.

A multitude of Scripture passages make it clear that the intercultural church is God’s idea. When God lays these truths on a believer’s heart, they become an exciting calling. And because the ministry has many challenges, these truths provide vital motivation to persevere. There are various ways in which the Biblical mandate is presented. Here are some foundational truths:

Greenhills Calgary

Greenhills Calgary

  1. At the tower of Babel, mankind’s societal success would have caused their prideful self-destruction. For their own good, God confused their language, which led to different cultures (Genesis 11). God’s strategy has worked beautifully. Cultural diversity is here to stay.
  2. While God chose one nation, Israel, as His special people, He has always sought an inheritance from among all the nations. The calling of God’s people Israel was to be a blessing and light to the nations (Gen 12:1-4).
  3. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, two alarming developments emerged. First, the majority of the nation Israel failed to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah (Romans 11:7-31). At the same time, Jesus reminded the world that God sought faith from every nation. His house was to be a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mk 11:17).
  4. Jesus intentionally crossed ethnic and gender barriers when He talked with the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4:1-26). He emphasized that His family consists of anyone who believes in Him (Mk. 3:31-35; 1 Pet. 2:9-10)
  5. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers who would follow (Jn 17:21). This is to serve as evidence that the Father sent the Son.
  6. Before Jesus ascended, He stressed the abiding priority of bringing the good news to all the peoples and nations in the Spirit’s power (Matt. 28:18-20), starting with our own “Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8).
  7. The inauguration of the church on the Day of Pentecost demonstrated its multi-ethnic nature (Acts 2:1-13). Cultures were honored by being addressed in their own languages, which became avenues for carrying the gospel to every people. The first recorded church conflict had cultural ramifications, and the solution was a multi-cultural team of helpers (Acts 6:1-7). The council of Jerusalem wrestled with the implications of ministry in a multi-cultural world (Acts 15).
  8. The Apostle Peter is clearly transformed from a mono-cultural to intercultural leader through his vision and subsequent interaction with Cornelius. As leader of the Jerusalem church, Peter validates the inclusion of all peoples in the church (Acts 10-11).
  9. The Antioch church is immediately highlighted as a multi-ethnic church with a heart for the nations (Acts 11, 13).
  10. Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles,” is called by God to develop the doctrine and practice of intercultural ministry. Among the most notable truths given in his writings are: (a) the revelation of the “mystery” that the Gentiles are equally a part of the church, Eph 3:1-9 (b) the breaking down of the Law as a separating wall, and creating of “one body through the cross, Eph 2:11-22, (c) the interdependence between parts of the body of Christ as mutually important contributors, 1 Cor 12:4-27, (d) the priority of incarnational ministry so as to win all peoples to Christ, 1 Cor 9:19-23, and (e) the practical imperative of loving others in order to preserve the unity of the body, Eph 4:1-6.
  11. Even as the chosen nation Israel was to have been a light to the nations, the spiritual riches of the church, consisting of all peoples, will provoke Israel to jealousy, resulting in a great day of mercy and salvation for Israel (Rom. 11:11-36).
  12. The culmination of God’s plan for the nations is envisioned by the Apostle John, where “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” cry out “with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God…’” (Rev. 7:9-12). Worship in the colors and flavors of the nations is clearly something God enjoys, not only in heaven but now on earth!

When one is gripped by God’s priority on reaching all the nations, it is impossible to retreat to ministry-as-usual. And when we see God deliberately drawing believers from every nation into His one and only body, the Church, it becomes difficult to justify local churches which remain unmoved as diverse peoples gather in nearby neighborhoods.

To retreat to the comforts of mono-cultural churches is out of sync with Jesus’ prayer for our unity. And to surrender to the segregated norms of society runs counter to the barrier-bashing work of the cross.

You can read the full guidebook here. To learn more, you might also consider this November’s Church Planting Canada Congress in Oakville, Ontario, which will feature a stream of workshops on intentionally intercultural churches facilitated by Robert Cousins and Chris Pullenayegem of Tyndale Intercultural Ministry Centre. Check out to learn about the event or contact Tom Lavigne for more information about attending the Congress with the CBWC Church Planting group.

Update from Family Camp

A few weeks ago, we shared the story of Greenhills Christian Fellowship in Calgary and their creative fundraisers for family camp. Here is an update from GCF, and a video that offers highlights from their time away together over the August long weekend.

What a way to spend the long weekend with your family in Christ!

This year’s family camp was another exciting experience! Held last August 2-5, 2013 at the Gull Lake Centre, Lacombe, it was attended by close to 95 people, including young children. The guest speaker, Pastor Jeremiah Abel of Abundant Life Ministries, spoke about the Holy Spirit and His work in the life of the believer.

The attendees were grouped into four : Red, Yellow, Orange and Blue Team. Each group was a mixture of adult and children members. This year, the members of each family  were put together in the same group.

The main competition was conceptualized  ”a la Amazing Race,” called Race to Grace, where a series of games, clues and tasks were assigned for each group to decipher and accomplish. Congratulations to the Orange Team for beating the other teams into finishing all tasks ahead of the others.

Family night on August 4th was another exciting event. Each team presented a skit with the objective of conveying the theme, “IGNITE!” into their presentations.

The children of Kids Camp learned about the different symbols of fire in the Scriptures : God’s Word, God’s Presence, God’s Power and the Holy Spirit. The kids were taught God’s Word according to the lesson planned, played games, did crafts, had storytelling and had a blast leading the congregation in worship on Sunday evening! They also presented a dance called, “Let Your Light Shine!” during the Family Night. All babies, toddlers and school-aged children were presented a certificate as a memory of the camp. It is the organizers’ desire for them to continue to be discipled in their homes.

Thank you to all who attended! Until the next camp.



Kudos to the organizers and praise God for this camp!

Church Plant Failures

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne

For much of the 22 years of my pastoral ministry I’ve been actively involved in church plants and with church planters. I’m often asked about what “Success and Failure” looks like in church planting. Some say that success can be measured in ABCs—Attendance, Building and Cash—but these three factors are far from the whole picture of a Spirit-led congregation.sad

I’ve seen churches that are small in numbers but huge in ministry effectiveness; groups with small budgets doing big things; plants with lots of money and quality space, but no people. I’ve seen some amazing successes and spectacular flops and I have some scars to prove it. To quote the actress Sophia Loren, “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”

So why do some plants fail? Geoff Surratt’s written a great series of blogs that summarize a lot of my own experiences with church planting. Geoff shares a three-part series including these three failure factors:

  • Planting alone; Resiliency; the Intangibles of Calling, tough soil, timing and grace.
  • Underfunded; Rigid models.
  • Unqualified leaders; Lack of understanding and respect for local context. Read the articles.

As an added bonus, check out Geoff’s book, Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing. Here are some of the humourous chapter titles:

  • Establishing the Wrong Role for the Pastor’s Family: “I realize that the church secretary can’t type, but she’s the mother of my children.”
  • Settling for Low Quality in Children’s Ministry: “If flannelgraph Bible stories were good enough for me, they’re good enough for your children”
  • Promoting Talent over Integrity: “We know he’s a thief and a liar, but no one can make the organ sing like Bob”
  • Clinging to a Bad Location: “We’re located under the freeway behind the abandoned Kmart.”

As I get older I appreciate more and more the words of Otto von Bismarck who said “Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others’ experience.”

I’d love to talk with you about your church planting ideas, and share some of my cautionary tales. My mistakes would feel much less painful if I knew someone was learning from them! Give me a shout at 1.800.596.7772 or

Send your Pastor to Banff


All pastors and their spouses are invited to Banff November 4-7, 2013, for the CBWC’s annual Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference. The Conference is a wonderful opportunity for pastors and their spouses to enjoy a relaxing, refreshing retreat with friends and colleagues who share God’s call to serve Him across Western Canada while enjoying God’s wondrous works. Past participBanff Retreatants have always found the Conference to be a refreshing and restorative time for fellowship, prayer, worship and learning.

Our theme this year is Stories Jesus Told:  Reading, Proclaiming and Living the Parables. We are delighted to have Gordon King as our keynote speaker. Gordon was the Director of Relief and Development for the Sharing Way at Canadian Baptist Ministries for six years. Our worship will be led by Sam Chaise, Executive Director of CBM and by Rev. Rob Des Cotes, former pastor of Fairview Baptist in Vancouver and now a spiritual director at Imago Dei.

Bible Studies will be led by Anne Smith, pastor of The Church at Southpoint in Surrey and by her husband Dr. Craig Smith, professor of Biblical studies at Carey Theological College. There will be workshops on spiritual formation, personal health and wellness, prayer walks, personal finance and continuing education.

The conference will be held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, AB.

You can download the brochure here.

Early Bird Registration Deadline is coming up fast: August 15, 2013. Registration includes hotel and meals, and costs $1,624 for pastor & spouse.

Online Registration — Registration is complete only when credit card payment is made.

Registration Form – send us a cheque or your credit info by surface mail.

Rural Church Planting

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne
In the mid 1990s my wife and I sensed God moving us from a secure associate pastor position in a growing church in Fort St. John, British Columbia, to the smaller neighbouring community of Taylor. We were privileged to be a part of a team that established what is now known as Peace Community Church.

Church planting in what’s known by some as rural areas comes with lots of blessings, but along with the blessings come some unique challenges. Overall the experiences were undoubtedly some of the best times of our lives. Connecting with neighbours during Gold Panning Days, throwing huge Christmas parties, caroling in -30 Celsius, and partnering with local government were among some of the creative—some might say naïve—ideas that came with a sense of faith that nothing was impossible with God.

We tried all kinds of outreach ideas celebrating our life in Christ and exploring ways of connecting people with God. And, you know, some of them even worked! We’ve established lifelong friendships, seen God work in miraculous ways and enjoyed seeing God develop something from the ground up.

In this interesting article, “Church Planting in the Small Community,” Steve Larson, Dennis Dickson, Chris Gray and Darren Widner explore some to the joys and trials of pioneering new churches. They share some of the practical concerns around buildings and explore various ways they endeavoured to share the Gospel in rural areas. Check it out and let me know what you think or share your own stories of rural life in ministry!

Declan Flanagan shares some great thoughts in “Faith in the countryside.” Here’s an interesting UK perspective on Church Planting:

The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC) Church Planting ministry is excited about potential new churches in the rural areas of southern Manitoba and central Alberta. We sense God moving in these regions, wanting us to partner in establishing new works. For information about CBWC Church Planting contact myself or Cailey Morgan. Check out our blog for stories of what’s happening across the West!