Adventitiousness

By Joell Haugan

So here’s a question that nobody is asking. “Is the Advent an example of adventitiousness”?

Ya, nobody, ever, has asked this.

But this word, which has the root “advent” actually brings some light and some questions to the story of the Advent, or coming, of God in flesh: Jesus Christ. “Adventitious” means “coming from without” or “coming about from a unknown or unexpected cause” or even “from an accidental cause.”

advent

Insight #1 – Jesus’ coming is from “without.” OK, yes, God is everywhere and the God-Man Jesus created everything…but in the Advent we see God entering the sphere of humanity in a very different way. As the creator becoming the same as the created. In this sense, the Advent is adventitious.

Insight #2 – Indeed, there is a “unexpected” element to the Advent of the “long expected” Messiah. Sages and prophets had signalled the imminent coming of the Messiah yet, there is an amazing element of surprise when He actually shows up…and, for sure, shows up in the way He did. In a manger. In a smaller town. To common parents. To poverty. To the worship of shepherds. This was indeed the most unexpected expected event.

Question #1 – So is the birth of Christ a cosmic accident? There have been those that have surmised that the virginal conception (aka the virgin birth, but the birth isn’t the virginal part. It’s the conception….well, you get the idea) was actually legitimate, but that it was a fluke of nature. Like the apparent spontaneous pregnancies reported in sharks (it’s true, look it up). This would change the story to the the wonderful name of the “adventitious conception” Ya, that doesn’t roll off the tongue. But, we know that this amazing historical happenstance was anything but an accident. It was designed and brought about by God Himself in the most awe-inspiring way. The most intelligently designed event in history.

Question # 2 – So what? Ah, the classic question that every sermon should answer. So, this Child is God. What does this mean to us today? Well, it means the world. Because in Christ we have the coming of God in flesh to ultimately take our place. No, Jesus isn’t going to replace you in your job at Walmart or Sears (oh, skip that last one). He came to replace us in the whole department of “taking our sin and its consequences.” Human sinfulness cannot stand in the presence of Holy God, but Holy God can stand in our place so that our lives can be exchanged for His–through His life, death and resurrection. That’s kind of a big deal. That’s what this Advent deal is all about.

So, this Advent season, take time to reflect on the adventitiousness of the Advent. OK. You can skip the adventitiousness part….but reflect you must! 🙂

Joell

PS. Charles Wesley did some of this reflecting for us:

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Advertisements

Refereeing in the Kingdom

By Joell Haugan

Thoughts spawned from David Fitch’s book Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape The Church For Mission.

David will be joining us in Banff in November, so we at Church Planting thought it would be a good idea to read something of his in advance.

Here is my reflection on the chapter regarding reconciliation.

What strikes me most about Fitch’s approach to reconciliation is the stress he places on presence (yah, I know, it’s in the title to the book). We in church ministry often get called on to help mediate situations and, more often than not, we end up being an arbitrator or judge. And, more often than not, we end up rendering a decision that offends one party or the other….or both!

Instead, Fitch shares, being faithfully present in the situation means coming together in the conflict not so as to render a verdict but to be present with the ones in conflict, and to be Spirit-led into finding the heart of Jesus in the matter.

That sounds like a lot of work. And it goes against the roll-up-our-sleeves-and-fix-it mentality that many of us have as pastors. But, actually, it sounds Biblical.

When I reflect on how Jesus managed his little church of 12, I see an amazing commitment to long term faithful presence. And, I wonder, how many times Jesus mediated conflicts with them (I’m sure they were many)? His faithful, long-term presence with them was what turned them into a band of brothers that set the world on fire. Mark 10 recounts the time there was jockeying for positions in the coming kingdom. A huge conflict arises and Jesus’ management style kicks in, as exemplified by the phrase “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Conflict was defused. Disciples were left pondering and realizing that they needed to get their priorities sorted for the kingdom’s sake.

It also sounds like something that will not be possible when people in conflict walk in off the street. There needs to be relationship. There needs to be trust. There needs to be mutual submission between all the parties. And, actually, that mutual submission needs to start not with the conflicting parties, but with the leadership… the “referee” in this case.

Aside: wouldn’t it be nice if when an NHL fight breaks out the referee would sit with the two players in a private room (the “quiet room” for concussion protocols will probably be available) and have them enter into being present and attentive with each other and having the ref demonstrate mutual submission as they listen for discernment… oh, wait. Nevermind.

hockey-1470571_640

It won’t work in the NHL, but it is the right way to approach conflict in the Christian Church League (CCL). Yes, sometimes folks aren’t going to allow for this kind of laborious process to bear fruit… but fruit we will bear if we bear with it. As we plant new churches and grow/refresh existing ones, learning to lean on God’s direction while we practice this faithful presence is going to bring about Kingdom relationships and Kingdom change.

It’s going to be cool. I may not like it because it cuts down on my ability to just walk in, speak from my own wisdom, and walk out to head back to my office and write blog posts. But, I think it’s the right thing….er….way to do.

Joell

PS. Here’s the 7 disciplines Fitch lists:

  • The Discipline of the Lord’s Table
  • The Discipline of Reconciliation
  • The Discipline of Proclaiming the Gospel
  • The Discipline of Being with the ‘Least of These’
  • The Discipline of Being with Children
  • The Discipline of the Fivefold Gifting
  • The Discipline of Kingdom Prayer

Book the Everyday Tour in Your Community

By Joell Haugan

The Everyday Tour Concert is available for booking.

Shalom Christian Outreach is hitting the road! Starting at the end of July in Clive, Alberta, the Everyday Tour is available to your CBWC church through to the end of October 30th. Enjoy a presentation featuring Gentil Mis (Mis is short for Misigaro Mutabazi) and the Legacy Family Singers.

gentil.jpg

Also included in the event will be Shadrack Mutabazi sharing his story of being a refugee to Canada and being the pastor of our Heartland Area church plant in Winnipeg. His amazing and powerful message of reconciliation will be a blessing and a challenge to your church. Here’s what Shadrack says about the event:

The goal in this tour is to reach out to different churches including young Canadian generation, newcomers, and families. Furthermore, is to strengthen our relationship with CBWC, introducing and learn from each other new ways of worship. In addition, it is to develop and learn from personal healing journey and connecting with other Christians’ experiences through sharing and exchanging some life experience stories, which respond to the following message: “The power of forgiveness, reconciliation, praise, hope and joy of serving the Lord.”

We are a big musical family, but this time only 3 of my children will be going on this tour. Before becoming Canadian citizens, we lived in different war-torn countries such as DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda. The learning experience has made us realise that we have 10000 reasons to praise God.

We are bringing 2 Albums; 1 is an African Album and the other is an English Album. Performed by the Legacy Family Band and produced by Gentil Misigaro Mutabazi. Gentil has earned many awards and is a Juno-recognized artist who happens to be the eldest son in our family. Gentil will be leading this tour with his two sisters: Console Mutabazi and Dusabe Mutabazi.

The Everyday Tour Concert is also available to do an entire Sunday service if so desired.

The team is available July 30 through October 30. They would greatly benefit from having multiple events in a region or area to mitigate travel times and cost. Concert length is 90 minutes. Fees are not required. Love offerings are welcome but also not required. Opportunities for churches to partner with Shalom and other CBWC church plants will be made available.

Also, we are pleased to partner with Majd AlAjji (majd@cbwc.ca), Refugee Sponsorship Coordinator for the CBWC for those interested in furthering the work of refugee sponsorship in the CBWC.

Joell Haugan (1-306-773-1568)

CBWC Heartland Church Planting, jhaugan@cbwc.ca
Shadrack Mutabazi (1-204-619-6553)

Shalom Christian Outreach, muschadrac@yahoo.fr

Rural Church Planting in Western Canada

By Joell Haugan

Doing church in rural areas ain’t what it used to be. Churches dotted the landscape across the entire populated areas of the Canada….usually all within a few miles of each other. Amazingly, folks could get on their horse and buggy and be at their burgeoning local church within an hour or maybe two at the most.  Which, by the way, account for the normal service time of 11am that churches today still mostly use. And, once you got there, there was no leaving after only an hour to head home. Church in the country was often an all afternoon thing.

Fast forward to 2017. Most country church buildings are actually gone. Some demolished. Some moved to the city for someone’s quaint restaurant. The remaining ones are sitting out in the country, often in disrepair and subject to teenager’s drunken whims.

droxford1

Except this one. Bingham Baptist Church in Droxford, Saskatchewan, is a memorial to a time not so long ago.

The congregation stopped meeting here sometime around 2000. The building is pretty much untouched since then with community folks still stopping in to check on it on occasion. This church resides on a depopulated area of Saskatchewan  Thirty-ish years ago this area was full of farms and farm families in their homes usually a few miles apart. Everyone had neighbours that could be walked to if necessary. Now, mega-farms are often 10 miles apart and people commute to work on the farm from area towns and cities.

But, people are still out there. The Rural Municipality that this building resides in (think of a 40 by 40 kms area – this one happens to be exactly 802 sq kms) has a whopping 140 people living in it.  The nearest town has 229.

droxford2

Nowadays, folks get in their cars, drive 45 minutes to get to their city church and, if they live in a rural area, may pass by six or seven places where countryside churches used to be. They also may pass many folks and families that still reside on farms and who are no longer connected to a local church family.  Every day they drive to the big town/city for school/work/appointments and doing so on yet another day is beyond the effort. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could gather together with folks from their neighbourhood (read: 10 mile radius) and become a body of believers without the massive overhead that comes from needing a church building to pay for?

What does church planting look like in rural areas of Western Canada?  Can we do “local” in such sparsely populated areas?  I believe we can. I also believe we should. But local might end up looking different and might end up needing the support of a nearby city/town church.

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a functioning church, regardless if there is a building, every 10 miles throughout the Canadian countryside like there was in the old days. Well, not really like the old days.

BTW, the answer is “yes”!

Joell

Sent or Stuck on Self?

By Joell Haugan

“Missional” is a bit of a buzzword these days in Christian thinking circles, as churches struggle with what it means to be “the Church” in the 21st century. For sure, Christ wasn’t mincing words when He spoke the Great Commission just before He ascended to heaven. Fulfilling this job is the primary work of the Church. Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians by Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw picks up on the “missional” theme emphasizing that all Christians need to see themselves as sent into the world to share and live out the Gospel…thus, “sentness.” This rather pointed quote highlights the need to retain “Great Commission” priorities for the sake of the the Kingdom:

People who have lost their sentness expect their church to deliver on its promises to meet their needs, to care for them, to make them feel good. Pastors who have lost their sentness see their primary responsibilities as organizing services and meeting the needs of the people who are paying the bills. People who have lost their sentness gauge the success of their pastors according to metrics related to sales: more customers, more money and, ideally, a more fancy showroom. In other words, we measure church success by building, butts on seats and bucks in the offering (pg 33).

This quote comes in the “Beyond Consumerism” chapter at the beginning of the book.  I admit, I like the quote.

I also hate this quote.

I like this quote because it really does shine a mirror on how we in the western church have allowed consumerism to creep into our church life. It echoes 2 Timothy 4:3-4 which warns about “tickling ears.”

We may very well be becoming more self-centred, individualistic and, perhaps even narcissistic. I often find the need to help our folks focus on others: others in the church, others in the community and others in the world. Granted, this isn’t exactly a new problem. But it does seem to be worsening as our culture becomes more individualistic.

What About Me.jpg

When we accidentally shift our “church focus” from others to ourselves we begin seeking answers to the wrong questions. The wrong questions include: “What is in this for me?” or “How did I like the church service today?” or “Was I comfortable today?”

A “sent” mentality starts asking “How can I serve others?” or “Where is God at work in my neighbourhood?” or “What areas of discomfort is God asking me to explore?”

As a pastor I often get asked “how big is your church?” I now usually answer with “we average around 169 pounds.” I then get blank stares. Really, though, it is a consumeristic question.

I hate this quote because I find myself worried about the very things listed: numbers, funds, and Sunday service performance. Is it because I was trained that way? Am I “missionally immature” for worrying about that stuff? These are questions that gnaw at me at times.

I don’t like being gnawed.

Focusing on our “sentness,” while not being the magic bullet, is a step in the right direction, for both pastors and churches.

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.

Looking Back / Looking Forward

By Joell Haugan

Ah. The mandatory year end reflection and looking ahead article. Yes. We all do it (some of us call them Christmas or New Years letters). It’s pretty easy to talk about what the kids and grandkids are up to which, ironically, is exactly what us Church Planting people are doing. We have infant churches out there and, often, parent churches that are eager to see them thrive.

Then we have “uncle and aunt” churches that may not have been directly involved in the birthing process but, nevertheless, are supportive and curious as to how the little one is doing. And, I suppose, we have some grumpy old relatives that think the world has enough stuff to worry about and don’t want to bring anyone new into this horrible world. I’ll leave this last group alone for now.

Overall, the Heartland is full of our congregations that are supportive of church planting, at least in principle. I often get a genuine “how is church planting going?” from both pastors and parishioners throughout Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Some churches  have begun Venture Partnerships with our one active church plant (Shalom in Winnipeg) and are even building a relationship with Shadrack and his congregation through invitations to visit and through monthly financial support.

cbwc-banff-2016-2

Enjoying Banff Pastors Conference with friends.

Over 2016 I also think it’s fair to say that there is a genuine “opening of eyes” to see where churches need to planted. For many in smaller areas there is a realization that churches (perhaps even house churches) are needed in many of the smaller towns throughout the prairies. Managing a large building and staff isn’t often feasible in small towns. But, perhaps, a house church connected to an established church in the region (say up to an hour away) might be a great way to bring church live and vibrancy into rural areas. Oh, I guess I’ve now moved into the “looking forward” part of this…. Oops.

In the cities we have seen some church plants become established and self supporting, which is always nice when we see the kids go off on their own….but part of us misses the times when they needed us!

Still, that feeling needs to be filled with new births … er… plants to nurture and grow and push out of the nest (there, that’s now three different metaphors in one sentence). Many neighbourhoods have dramatically changed (especially in the inner cities) and we are finding the need to re-plant in areas that have long since seen most (not all) churches and church members move to the suburbs. The challenge that I’ve seen our inner city churches grab hold of is being re-made in the image of their communities. That’s tough stuff but that invariably leads to new church plants/expressions.

So, for 2017 I’m hoping to see some of these ideas take hold. I’d love to see small groups beginning to meet in Christ’s name in small rural areas. I’m hoping to see city churches extending themselves to be the neighbourhood’s church. I’m hoping to see more Venture Partners for Shalom and for future church plants. And, finally, I’m hoping to see church leaders rise up (both lay and pastor) and want to branch out into a new area that needs a new expression of Christ’s body nearby.

Road Trip Remembrances

After all these months of sabbatical and a busy start to fall, we’re happy to announce there’s been an official Joell sighting! He didn’t get lost in Manitoba’s backcountry during his Heartland road trip after all, so we’re glad to share his reflections about his journeys and the people he connected with along the way:

So, start a sabbatical by driving 3000+ kms through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, visiting as many of our Heartland CBWC churches as possible… and drum up support for church planting.

That seems to long ago… but that’s what I tasked myself with back in May and it was a great time for me to get to see the “lay of the land” and connect with most (sorry, I missed some) of you. Of our churches. Here’s a few of observations from my journey.

20160418_135247_HDR

  1. The Heartland is open and willing to consider involvement in church planting. As I chatted with laypeople and pastors I came away with keen sense that everyone understands the importance of church planting. There is a recognition that planting churches (of various kinds) is healthy and worth investing in.
  2. Most churches are strapped for energy and resources to embark on planting. Yes, we all know it’s true. It’s hard to focus on “having babies” when the parent is having a hard time making ends meet.
  3. Cooperation is alive and…well, not quite doing well but it is a favourable consideration. When asked if a church would be willing to cooperate with other churches in church planting the answer was always a resounding “yes.”
  4. Exposure to current church plants is minimal. Sadly, having our active church plants be visible in the Heartland congregations isn’t an easy task (due to distance) but it was deemed very important by our churches.
  5. There is a heart for Heartland planting. Many church leaders shared a burden they had for a particular community (usually nearby) that they felt needed a new expression of Christian community. This is great stuff!

So, there’s a few musings. Thanks to all who allowed me to visit and I hope to connect with the rest of you very soon.

Joell Haugan
Heartland Church Planting Director

Booster Cables and New Churches

I had an old car in high school–a Mercury Meteor–that had a bad habit of not starting. I had booster cables at the ready and had resigned myself to either leaving it running all the time or parking in such a fashion as to ensure easy access to the battery.

One day after school, to my great surprise, it started. I was so excited that I threw it into reverse to get out of my spot and promptly ran into a Chevette parked behind me. The Meteor had a broken tail light. The Chevette was almost a write off with a huge dent in the hood and front bumper.

1977_Chevette_Rally.jpg

Church planting in the Heartland, this past year, has felt like that old Meteor. We just can’t seem to get new things started. We’ve got some wonderful works in progress and some church plants that are moving to full independence after their initial plantings.  However, some new opportunities have not been able to start. Even with booster cables.

Shalom in Winnipeg under the pastoral leadership of Pastor Shadrack Mutabazi is our only official church plant at the moment. They are graciously hosted by Broadway-First Baptist in Winnipeg.

Many congregations in the Heartland are considering being involved in church planting either directly through starting another congregation in an area nearby, or by joining the Venture program to directly support a new or ongoing church planting work. Either way is wonderful!

Contact me with questions or suggestions!

Blessings.

Joell Haugan, Heartland Church Planting Director
jhaugan@cbwc.ca

When does church life begin?

by Joell Haugan, Heartland Church Planting Director

When does life begin? The current furor over Planned Parenthood in the US has reopened the abortion debate around the globe. One question that often is avoided is “when does life begin”? When is a fetus a baby…. a person.

CC Sharealike J.K. CaliffIn Church Planting we often ask a similar question. When is a new group of believers that is purposely meeting as a church a church? We have wrestled with this and haven’t solved the philosophical question but we have formalized some steps that bring a group into fellowship with our group of Baptist churches here in the West.

  1. Connection: If a group is already established we meet them and get to know one another. They meet us (the CBWC). It’s kinda like a first date.
  2. Preparation: Leaders interview each other. We introduce them to the larger family. We draw up a plan whereby we work together to plan for where this new group is heading. If there is a pastor, we get them on track with the CBWC.
  3. Assessment: A ministry plan is implemented. A bit of time goes by. More people meet with more people and the ball keeps rolling.
  4. Affirmation: The CBWC officially recognizes the group as a “church plant in process”
  5. Provincial registration: charity paperwork which may happen earlier in the process
  6. Federal registration: ditto.
  7. CBWC Acceptance: I guess this would be the birth. The congregation officially joins the CBWC family as a full fledged member.

Now, the reality is this church has been a church for a long time before step seven. And, as you know, where two or three are gathered in His name, Christ is present…so…sorry, no hard and firm answers about when church life begins here. However, we have a plan to get from conception to birth and the new life that is brought into the CBWC is a wonderful blessing!

Have questions about the process or want to take the first steps towards multiplication? Shoot me an email at jhaugan@cbwc.ca.