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.
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.