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!

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.

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

Redeeming the Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. You’ll wish that summer could always be here

Vicki and Patrick Hazelwood, Lethbridge

Vicki and Patrick Hazelwood, Lethbridge

Fifty years ago, Nat King Cole was #6 on the Billboard Charts with this epic summer classic. As we at CBWC Church Planting enter into summer 2013, we’ve just completed a move into our new Offices, following 3 renovation jobs to get here (the “Crazy” days began early). We’re looking forward to vacations and times to rest, refocus and enjoy a slightly slower pace (dare we say a bit “Lazy”). As we look out into summer we’re very mindful of our Church Plants and Church Planter families – praying for times of relaxation and recreation.

Towards this end, Cailey and I came up with our version of the “Epic Things to Do This Summer”. Everybody loves a Top 10 List. You know, “10 Best Places to Eat, “10 Favourite Characters in the Bible,” “10 Riskiest Things in Life.”

Well, we at the CBWC Church Planting Office want to share our 10 Ways to Maximize Your Summer!

10. SLEEP in, goof off, relax and hang out with lots of friends and family. (Tom’s idea)

9. VOLUNTEER in a community activity or program in your neighborhood.

8. INVEST 1 hour a week praying for CHURCH PLANTS in process in your region.

7. READ a book or articles about Church Planting and let us know your ideas. We’d love to incorporate into our blog:

6. DO something really nice for that QUIET worker in your church who is sooo helpful.

5. WRITE a letter of encouraging card to a member of your church leadership. Send it by snail mail. It will be a great affirmation and joy to receive.

4. Host a BBQ for your neighbors across the street.

3. SUBSCRIBE to GO WEST! Church Planting enewsletter at and let us know how we can improve our delivery of stories and encouragement.

2. SCOUR grocery stores for green apple Creamsicles. It’s worth it. (Cailey’s idea)

1. CHOOSE thankfulness. Spend 30 seconds starting each day telling God what you’re thankful for.

We pray for God’s blessing of rest and renewal as you enter into your lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Tom Lavigne


Check out this video on discipleship:

We’d love to hear from you. Your thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated, so leave a comment here, or email me:

Until next time… Tom Lavigne, @tomlavigne1 (Twitter) CBWC Director of Church Planting

Church Multiplication

What is a church multiplication movement? Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird say this in Viral Church:

We define a Church Multiplication Movement is as follows: a rapid multiplication of churches where a movement grows through multiplication by 50 percent in the number of churches in a given year to the third generation. For example, if they are 100 one year, they are at least 150 the next, and that growth is accounted for mostly by new converts, not transfers. Finally, this kind of growth continues to the third generation.

Here are some intriguing numbers from

In the past 24 hours:

  • In Communist China, 37,500 people became followers of Jesus.

  • In Hindu India, 27,200 people became followers of Jesus.

  • In sub-Saharan Africa 17,000 people became followers of Jesus

While Christianity is bursting at the seams in Asia and Africa that is not the case in North America, or for that matter in much of the “developed” western world. In Latin America, one new church is planted every eight minutes. We must learn how to co-operate, collaborate and contextualize the strategies used in the “missions field” to re-reach the West. The strategies being used in the two-thirds world focus on rapid church multiplication movements. We need to start thinking not just in terms of planting individual churches, but rather what can be done to start a multiplying movement.

The principle of encouraging multiplication movements is a core value that drives the mission of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada – Church Planting Resource Team  we are committed to prayer, planning, partnering, promoting, planting and celebrating together with our church plants and existing churches as they multiply new congregations across the West.

Ed Stetzer has researched and written a valuable series on the subject of what church multiplication looks like (Viral Churches: Thinking about Church Multiplication Movements in the West) and his book “Viral Churches” is a strong voice in the ongoing conversation.

 Tom Lavigne, @tomlavigne1 (Twitter) CBWC Director of Church Planting

Dollars and Sense

This article was originally published in GO WEST! 2.9

I love all things Church Planting: praying, connecting, researching…I don’t even mind setting up, renting space in strange places or trying to raise funds to invest in the things God is doing.

However, when I look at the financial side of Church Planting these days I can get overwhelmed by all the ideas and resources out there, and it reminds me of an old Far Side cartoon.


Oh, how I miss Gary Larson, the legendary cartoonist who created The Far Side, a single-panel cartoon series that was syndicated internationally to over 900 newspapers for 15 years. The series ended with Larson’s retirement on January 1, 1995. His 23 books of collected cartoons have combined sales of more than 45 million copies. Gary had an incredible gift of making us laugh at some of the life’s great challenges.

Fundraising can strike fear into the heart of Church Planters. Some are good at it, some are not, many more are just left scratching their heads in frustration. There are all kinds of great resources out there–where do you begin to look? Here’s a resource worth checking out: Outreach Magazine’s page of ideas on marketing from some current planters including Paul Andrew, Damian Boyd, Aaron Graham and others.

At the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada we are committed to basic levels of funding for our Church Planters. As well, we offer Venture Partnerships with existing churches–thank you Westview Baptist, Bethel Baptist Sechelt, and others considering Venture. We’re also learning what Church Planting Co-operatives might look like and are excited about the possibilities of working collaboratively to start new churches (watch for a future article)…

We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, successes and failures at financing and fundraising. It’s how we learn best.

Trusting and praying that Jehovah Jireh, the God whose provision is seen will bless you abundantly as we serve in the kingdom…until next time, “May I be excused? My brain is full.”

Tom Lavigne,
Director of Church Planting – Canadian Baptists of Western Canada

Faith, Farming and Reaping a Harvest

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:3-9).

wheatI had the privilege of being involved in a Church Plant in an area where farming  occasionally collided with oil/natural gas and logging interests. I developed a deep appreciation and awe for my friends who farmed and ranched. I remember speaking with a farmer who professed to be an atheist.

After listening to him for a while I smiled and said, “I think you have way more faith than I do.” He laughed as I continued: “In the springtime you invest tens of thousands of dollars on preparing the soil, seeding, fertilizer, fuel, and maintenance. Then, after spending all that money you sit back and wait, hope and trust for a good harvest – friend, that’s faith!!”

Wilson Geisler wrote a great article, “Glorifying God through Church Planting,” sharing how God pours Himself into people who invest themselves into the lives of others – for God’s glory, and Seth Godin shares a few intriguing thoughts in this article: “Planting, harvesting and your fair share.”

We on the CBWC Church Planting team would love to hear some of your stories on faith, planting and harvesting – please drop us a line! Praying for God’s best for you as we co-labour in the kingdom.

Tom Lavigne

Easter Bunnies and thoughts about not separating Church and State

From the It Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time Department: Sometimes people wonder where we come up with these wild Church Planting ideas, like the time we dreamed about what it would look like if our local municipal government (a Canadian invention) and our church plant were to partner together and help our community. We agreed to share facilities, equipment, resources and even hire a shared youth worker – and we even asked our denomination to invest in it as well – and they agreed (thank you CBWC).

We prayed, planned and put into action a shared series of sports camps, parades, special
cultural events and community outreaches open to and at no cost to the public, received
funding from the local government and our denomination, and everybody celebrated!!

There were the odd glitches but due to all of the excitement and good will everything went amazingly well – to God be the glory (with a few local politicians patting each other well deservedly on the back).

We were warned about differing agendas, strings being attached and hidden motives when it comes to Church and State partnerships. easter-eggs

Can churches and governments ever partner together? Locally, Provincially/State and Federally? Can we co-exist and even thrive in this ever-changing world? What has it looked like in your city? Community? What are some of the pitfalls or things for people to watch out for?

We had fun sneaking in the true story of Easter along with the Village Egg Hunt; we’d love to hear some of your stories (Good, Bad and Ugly).

In a day and age of community and relational breakdowns, addictions, abuse and
abandonment, crime and corruption, social injustice, refugees, human trafficking and
immigration issues, how can the Church and State relate? What do the new deals look like?

Here are some thoughts from Tyler Johnson and Jim Mullins entitled, “One Church’s Journey on Immigration.”


Tom Lavigne