Speaking a Different Language

By Shannon Youell

Sitting at the beach and staring at the waves, caught up in the rhythms of the immense forces that push and pull, I found myself in a pensive mood.

sebastien-gabriel-PVBoJEDJu-E-unsplash.jpg

I had earlier passed a church sign that read: “Wondering how you can be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved!” Traffic was stopped at that point and I stared at that sign, turning the words around in my mind until traffic began to flow again.

Watching the waves, I pondered that sign. Who in our North American context is actually asking themselves how to be saved? Who would even know what it meant to believe in Lord Jesus? The answer of course, would be people who had some sort of assumed knowledge of the God of the Bible, of Jesus as Savior and Lord. The sign makes sense to those folk even if they are disinterested, disengaged or done with church and religion.

But what of our increasingly secularized culture? We now have men, women and children who have no context to place that into. To them the sign is meaningless, and when stopped in traffic and reading that sign, would only give it a cursory glance as it is in a foreign language.

The unchurched people I hang around with and know are rarely asking themselves that question.  They don’t see themselves as needing saving, and indeed, they don’t see themselves as sinners.

For all intents and purposes, these friends of mine are the “Nones“.  They have no historical or cultural memory of the Christian religion and do not consider themselves religiously affiliated at all.

Which brings me to the tension I see in that church sign. How can I talk about God, Jesus and gospel to people who have no context or even belief in a God who actually cares about the world?  To many, our assumed ways of talking about the gospel are like a foreign language.
 
“Could you tell a gospel story in a way that resonates with the nones? 
What would it sound like? 
What does re-imagining the Gospel sound like? 
(I’m not suggesting re-inventing, I’m curious about re-telling.)”  Rohadi 

Rohadi, a young pastor in Calgary Alberta, expounds on this further in his blog on telling the gospel story without using church language, here.

Which brings us to our Engaging Gospel Series. The series is shaped to help us re-shape our language and find multiple entry points to engage the Nones and Dones in our lives and neighbourhoods.  We learn the language of the day so we might engage in conversation that can open doors to journeying with folk towards God, the cross and then to the understanding of how we can be saved in the midst of the brokenness of the world we live in.

The Engaging Gospel Series is a good place to start in your churches and your small groups, to learn a “new” language to help us tell this wonderful story to the culture of our day.  This is what missionaries do and have always done: learn the language and the culture of the people with whom they wish share God’s Big Story.

The Gentle Way of Jesus

As we seek to explore the way of Jesus (His way of humility that seems upside-down in our culture of power and pride) we will inevitably have to consider Jesus’ constant invitation into loving one another as a testimony of the Father’s love. Dallas Friesen from our sister denomination CBOQ shares these words about how we as Baptists in Canada can choose the humble way of Jesus as we wrestle together through conflict and diverse perspectives. Thanks, Dallas for your words (originally posted on baptist.ca).


A Gentle Answer

By Dallas Friesen

“Christ, present in the lives of congregational members, leads them corporately to discover and obey his mind and will. Such ‘congregational government’ calls for and expresses the equality and responsibility of believers under the Lordship of Christ.” 

“Why Baptist?”, p. 13 

It has been said that if there are 80 Baptists in one room, there will be 85 opinions. We are infamous for disagreeing with one another on everything from crucial theological points to whether pews should have cushions. We can do this because we have autonomy, meaning that each church is free to make its own decisions on many subjects. While we are all people of Scripture and of conscience, it doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Though we choose to gather around the same table and share the same distinctives, we are free to express the unique flavours of our respective congregations. Sometimes it is like a glorious feast. At other times, a culinary disaster.

Before we berate ourselves too harshly, let’s remember this: even those closest to Jesus had conflict. Ten of his disciples were fairly annoyed when James and John wanted to secure their right to sit and Jesus’ right hand. (Matt. 20:20-24) Paul had strong words for Peter over his choice in dinner guests, (Gal. 2:11-14) and parted ways with Barnabas for a time over a disagreement regarding Mark’s fitness for service. (Acts 15:36-41) And who can forget poor Euodia and Syntyche, forever remembered in Scripture as the women who couldn’t get along? (Phil. 4:2-3) And that’s just the beginning!

Even when we are in the presence of Christ, we, his broken followers, will disagree. Given that, how do we do it well?

Peter Scazzero, in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, looks at how to deal with conflict—not by avoiding it as “false peacemakers,” but by responding as Jesus would respond. “Jesus’ profound, contemplative prayer life with his Father resulted in a contemplative presence with people… This ability to really listen and pay attention to people was at the very heart of his mission. It could not help but move him to compassion. In the same way, out of our contemplative time with God, we, too, are invited to be prayerfully present to people, revealing their beauty to themselves.” (p. 180)

When we are faced with conflict, it is easy to seize passionately on to the idea and forget the person from whom it comes. It is tempting to steamroll over others, hear only the points we want to hear and enjoy the temporary delights of the offended. But righteous indignation isn’t one of the fruits of the Spirit. Gentleness is. We need not compromise on what we believe to be true, but our love for Christ and our brothers and sisters in his kingdom compels us to share our ideas and opinions… gently. Christians are meant to be builders—those upon whom Christ can build his church—not bulldozers.

todd-quackenbush-701-unsplash.jpg

Tools, like words, can be used to build or to bulldoze.

When I was in grade 5, attending a Christian school, we were required to memorize Proverbs 15:1—“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I cannot count the number of times in my life that I have returned to that piece of deep wisdom. As you go about your day, I hope you will join with me in this prayer from Scazzero’s book:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. I am aware, Lord, of how often I treat people as Its, as objects, instead of looking at them with the eyes and heart of Christ. Lord, I have unhealthy ways of relating that are deeply imbedded in me. Please change me. Make me a vessel to spread mature, steady, reliable love so that people with whom I come in contact sense your tenderness and kindness. Deliver me from false peacemaking that is driven by fear. Lord Jesus, help me love well like you. Grow me, I pray, into an emotionally mature adult through the Holy Spirit’s power. In Jesus’ name, amen.” (EHS, p. 194) 

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:15-16

 

Joyce and Betty–Church Planters: the ongoing story

Since originally posting the amazing stories of Joyce Oxnard and Betty Milne Anderson, we had the joy of hearing from Betty with an update of what they’ve been up to since our blog story ended. We’re honoured to hear these stories and see the incredible faithfulness and humble generosity of these two leaders–loving the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength by serving and witnessing to the people of Canada. Enjoy this continuation of the story straight from Betty’s keyboard! ~Cailey

When we first became involved with the BUWC (CBWC) the term “Church planting” was new to us and I think to many churches in the denomination.  So many changes and such exciting ones.

heather-emond-313088-unsplash

While it’s true that Argyle Road Baptist Church was our last assignment in the sense of church planting or Interim ministry, we weren’t done yet! While we were in Regina we were called to serve in Yorkton, SK.  They had been without a pastor for considerable time after the retirement of Rev. Daykin who had ministered there for 24 years. I think there was difficulty finding someone who would follow such a long time of ministry because historically, pastors stayed for a short time following a lengthy ministry.  When we were called, a member of the Search Committee stated that we were the last resort!  We served in Yorkton for five years and felt that the Lord blessed us and the church during that time. After that we spent the next year in Inuvik after which Joyce officially retired.

I wasn’t quite ready for retirement and in 1998 I was called to First Baptist Church in Saskatoon as Part Time Associate Pastor. Blake Anderson was the Senior Pastor who retired early to care for his wife who was dying of cancer.  Joyce assisted me with providing Pastoral care for a few months until our new Senior Pastor, Paul Matheson, arrived in 2000. Official retirement for me was in August, 2003.

A new phase of ministry and service opened up for me when Blake and I were married the next year and we have been involved in the Lord’s work in various ways ever since.

Unfortunately Joyce has been struggling with Alzhiemer’s Disease for the last few years and we have been her Caregivers. Frequently she says, “We have been so blessed. God has provided everything we need.” A true statement of faith even in the midst of memory loss and confusion and one which I agree with completely.

Our lives certainly don’t end at retirement. Even in her confusion and uncertainty with Alzheimers, Joyce frequently says, “I wish there was some way we could still serve the Lord. Do you think the three of us could start a church somewhere?”

I remind her that praying may be what the Lord wants us to do just now. And that might be the most important.

Blessings,

Betty

Join the Momentum Part 4: Multiplication

By Shannon Youell

Does your church have a vision of multiplying? More often than not, we find ourselves (wishfully, on the back burners of our minds) thinking that planting a church would be great, but we don’t have any intentionality towards it. Yet Jesus called us to be “senders” from within to with-out. Unless we begin to examine why we should plant outwards, we will never cultivate the ethos of multiplication as part of our discipleship process within.

Multiply: Dandelion — Kenneth Spencer CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Some Tough Questions
So though we say we are called on mission with God, we often find ourselves asking: Why plant? Doesn’t that just diminish what we already have? Won’t it stretch our limited resources beyond sustainability? What is our mission anyways and to whom should our missional focus be toward? Are we here for sake of maintaining the local church or for the community—the parish that is all around us? Does God place us in particular places to be His proclaimers of the gospel of the Kingdom of God?

These are questions worth spending time wrestling over. Often we can’t imagine our church even imagining planting a new church community that might “compete” with what faithful practices we engage in. Yet statistically, new churches actually renew community interest to those who are de-churched or unchurched and brings renewed excitement to our existing congregations as they partner in new life. Because after a while, folk in our communities don’t even notice our presence anymore. A new church can generate curiosity in a community.

Recently our local news carried a story about a large household products store closing out and a new Save-On Foods grocery moving in. There were some reactionary expressions from established independent grocers that this large chain will ‘steal’ their customer base and eventually squeeze them out. Just this year a new grocery store opened and another announced they would be the anchor in a new commercial development, so a third mega store seemed overkill. Yet after a few days of reflection some of those same grocers spoke positively and welcoming of the new stores. It causes their customers to take another look around at what their shopping needs are and they shift to that which meets their needs or become more loyal to where they already shop.

Just within the last few weeks a new church plant launched in my smallish, yet rapidly growing community on Vancouver Island. Their first Sunday saw eight hundred people come out to two services. Some initial reactions are that this new, more dynamic expression of gathering together will “steal” some folk from the already established and numerically struggling churches.

Yet a renewed interest in seeking God can actually benefit the existing churches. As curious already-Christians and not-yet-believers explore the new plant, some will stay, some return to whence they came, and others, who taste and see that the Lord is good, will discover places where they find belonging. Often that is in the new plant, but frequently they begin to explore the other area churches until they find their place of home and faith.

Multiplication or Cloning?
Another misconception we can have about planting is that it can only really be church if it looks like us…as though we are cloning rather than multiplying. Creating a new gathering that looks like us has and will continue to be a way to plant churches, but it can’t be our only way. We must always consider our context and culture and what God is already doing in the places where He is preparing for harvest. Multiplying can take on many expressions that won’t necessarily look like our particular culture, yet brings the presence of the ministry of reconciliation into the places and spaces around us.

Here are some ways that some of our CBWC folk are pursuing joining God on His multiplying mission:

  • Existing congregations who recognize they are primarily in the upper age group and perhaps declining in numbers yet long to see the legacy of the good work they spent their lives laboring at continue into the younger generations. Some of these faithful folk are the catalysts of prayer, resourcing and mentoring a second service with a completely different expression than they practice so that the faithful presence of God at work in their neighbourhood flourishes.

“TO EXPAND IN THIS MULTICONGREGATIONAL WAY MAY BE THE MOST RESPONSIBLE, COMMUNITY-RELEVANT WAY TO GROW.” (KEVIN MANNOIA – CHURCH PLANTING: THE NEXT GENERATION). MANNOIA GOES ON TO CLARIFY THAT HE IS NOT SUGGESTING HAVING MULTIPLE SERVICES DUE TO FACILITY CONSTRAINTS BUT OF HAVING “INTENTIONAL EFFORTS TO REACH DIFFERENT PEOPLE WITH THE SAME MESSAGE AND DEVELOP A NEW CONGREGATION WITH ITS OWN IDENTITY AND CHARACTERISTICS.”

  • Neighbourhood focuses are a great way to bring God’s faithful presence through the already-believers in the hood to others who have yet to encounter Jesus. Some of our CBWC churches are focusing their missional impulses on the neighbourhoods in which their constituents live, building genuine bridges between people who live next to other, yet are strangers. They welcome the stranger and the alien and love them with Christ’s healing, restorative love, discipling folk in the Jesus Way before they even introduce them to Him. Church plants like this birth new churches out of sharing Jesus from within community rather than planting a church and then doing outreach in a neighbourhood. It’s more like in-reach!
  • What about joining with other CBWC churches in your area to share in starting a new community of faith in a neighbourhood where one is not yet there? Sharing this work in energy and resources builds strong relationships broadly and local specific building up both the body and the kingdom. Bob Roberts Jr. says that church planting should be thought of more as community development than building a place for already believers to gather; he calls them “community faith engagers” rather than church planters.

These are but a few of the ways we can begin to cultivate the ethos of multiplication within our church communities. The key is getting involved somehow, someway–stepping outside our known practices to discover the Holy Spirit at work all around us in unexpected ways.

How about You?
CBWC is here to coach, mentor, train and resource you on whatever the multiplication path may look like for you. Contact us to explore how you and your folk can lean into the legacy of the past to propel the legacy of the next generations!

 

Free Workshop: A Day with Brad Brisco

As we at the CBWC work with you to grow your communities and witness people encountering Jesus, we want to bring you resources that will help frame our thinking about local mission and the tools to practice and disciple others.

Brad Brisco is offering a Mission Essentials clinic on October 12 in Leduc, AB, and October 13 in Surrey, BC.

We are so convinced that this workshop could be a game changer for your congregation that CBWC Church Planting is covering the cost for as many of you and your church folk and leaders to come as possible. Just register each attendee here.

 

CBWC03DayWithBradBriscoEDM.png

Forge - BB - BC copy.jpg

Brad is an author, church planter, teacher and catalyzer. One of the gifts that he has brought to the church in the past few years is his ability to take deep theological truths and make them understandable for normal people who love Jesus. This day with Brad will help churches to chart a course of action for understanding the mission of God and then helping us imagine how God wants us to engage in our neighbourhoods. This workshop is for everyone who is a follower of Jesus.

Please, please, please make these two sessions a priority for your church’s members and leadership team, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at syouell@cbwc.ca.

Shannon Youell, CBWC Church Plant Coordinator

Churches in Cities

Last week, I shared a resource with some tips for suburban life for God’s Kingdom. This week, let’s talk about the importance of church planting in the city! ~ Cailey

9 Reasons We Must Connect our Churches with Cities

By Chuck Lawless

Even if you have no interest in urban settings and ministries, I plead with you to continue to read this post. We are called to get the gospel to all peoples of the world (Matt. 28:18-20), and we will not do that if we shy away from the world’s cities. Please read on, and pray about how your church might tackle a city – then encourage others to read this post as well.

Calgary_Downtown.jpg

  1. The smallest church can reach out to a city. To be honest, it’s simple – find a ministry in a city, and partner with them. Whether your church is itself urban or rural, with 10 members or 10,000, you can do something in the city. The needs are so great that opportunities are there for everybody.
  2. People are in the cities. This reason is basic, but not insignificant. The world has been more urban than rural for at least seven years now. The ten most populated cities in the U.S. have 25 million people in the actual city boundaries, with 95 million people in the ten largest metropolitan areas. The church needs to be where people are.
  3. Evangelicals aren’t always in our cities. Though this picture is rightly changing, evangelicals have not been strong in cities. We have emphasized evangelism but have been cautious about engaging some of the most obvious mission fields in the world. Gospel-witness voids still remain.
  4. The nations are in the cities. Years ago, I was privileged to minister in a Vietnamese village in Moscow, Russia. I’ve been with Hispanics in South Asia and Europeans in Southeast Asia. If the Lord would allow me, I would live in the middle of New York City – an urban setting where more than 800 languages are spoken. If we want to reach the world’s people groups, the city is the place to go.
  5. World influencers are in the city. Think about the potential of influencing the world if we reach leaders in New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, or Mumbai. The worlds of the arts, literature, politics, sports, media, etc. are there – what would happen if the gospel influences them?
  6. The needy are in the city. Poverty in the city offers significant opportunity for the church to minister. The combined stresses of poverty and urban life often threaten families, foster division, and invite crime. The church has the answer to all of these issues – if the church is there.
  7. Job opportunities are often there. That’s not to say that everyone will find a job, but the sheer size of cities often provides employment opportunities. Here’s the reason this point matters: believers can move to cities to be a light in the darkness, trusting that finding a job will not be an impossibility.
  8. Reaching the city requires partnerships. No single church can reach millions of people, even with multi-site approaches. City reaching requires us to push beyond our differences to work together. That unity is what Jesus prayed for in John 17, and it wouldn’t hurt us to work together for the Great Commission task.
  9. The job is too big for us. Who can reach 22 million+ in greater New York or the 37 million+ in Tokyo? Who would even know where to start? God does, and He requires us to seek Him and His wisdom. If the city drives us to our knees, that’s a good place to be.

What other reasons would you add?

Be sure to check out Dr. Lawless’ daily blog posts at www.chucklawless.com. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

Small Group Multiplication: A Priority?

 

by Cailey Morgan

Thom Rainer, in this helpful blog post and podcast on small groups, suggests that “One of the primary purposes of a small group should be to multiply itself.” He then gives 9 steps toward that multiplication of a small group.

Canaan-Life-Spring2.jpg

Canaan Life Spring Baptist Church’s Women’s Group

While small groups may look different or even have different purposes in different contexts, we do wholeheartedly agree that if churches are to grow as a living organism, every level of church life needs to be reproducible–individual life transformation, group transformation, church-wide transformation and eventually city transformation.

Small groups are one of the best incubators for leadership development because they provide consistent, low-risk opportunities to serve and lead in a context of accountability and trust. But leaders in training can fail to reach their potential if the small group never multiplies because they don’t get the opportunity to step out and lead their own group.

What does group multiplication look like in your context? Are Rainer’s tips helpful for where your church wants to head? Share your thoughts here on this blog or email me at cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

 

 

Nine Bible Texts That Ought to Challenge Leaders

To be a Christian leader is no small calling. Whether you serve as a church pastor, a lay leader, or a Christian who leads in the secular world, you are under obligation to be a strong and faithful witness for Christ. Here are several texts that should challenge you—and provide you a grid through which to evaluate your life today.

1. 1 Timothy 3:2-7

While directed primarily at elders, this passage is not intended to be limited to those in that role. These texts describe a mature Christian whose lifestyle is clearly affected by his beliefs. I fear that we read these verses when first considering leadership, but fail to come back to them as regularly as we should.

An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy—one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap. (HCSB)

2. Joshua 1:8

We are to follow the Word of God. No exceptions.

This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it.

3. Mark 9:35

Contrary to the world’s idea of leadership, Christian leadership equals servanthood.

Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Photo Cred Bobby McKay

4. John 3:30

John the Baptist’s words about Jesus must ring true from our lips as well. The work of Christian leadership is always about Christ and never about us.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

5. Philippians 2:3

Christian leadership has no room for arrogance. Period.

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  

6. Matthew 12:36

As Christian leaders whose work is so connected to our words, we have a high level of accountability for our speech.

“I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”

7. 1 Corinthians 11:1

We must live like the Apostle Paul – in such a way that if others imitated our lives fully, they would thus be imitating Christ. That’s a lofty calling.

“Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.”

8. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Though these verses particularly address Paul’s life, the theme echoes throughout Scripture: we lead best not in our strength, but in our weakness.

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

9. 2 Timothy 3:12

Following Jesus is costly. Christian leadership might, in fact, bring victory in a way most leaders seldom consider: through persecution and death.

 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Use these texts today to assess your walk with God. If you need to confess and repent, do so (and if you determine that you have no room for improvement, you might want to go back and review #5 above).

What other texts would you add to this list?

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on August, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

A Webinar on Renewal

As part of this ongoing conversation about revitalization and renewal in our churches, I want to share this helpful webinar from Thom Rainer. I’m not sure how long it will be available for free online, so make sure to check it out soon!thom-rainerCailey Morgan
cmorgan@cbwc.ca

Summer Reading Ideas

by Cailey Morgan

Summer is here, which will give many of us a chance to unplug and recharge–yes, somehow those verbs are compatible–and hopefully that means reading!

2498786282_65542d9eeb_b

If you’re looking for some inspiration, her are several helpful book reviews our readers have put together for this blog.

Below are a few other books we’d suggest checking out over the summer. These books are still available through our review offer, where we’ll send you the book for free if you’ll send us a review when you finish it!

If you would like to participate in our review initiative, email me at cmorgan@cbwc.ca with the name of the book you would like to review, and your mailing address.

Enjoy!

PS: If you’re one of those folks who received a book from us, but it’s been sitting on the shelf half-read for a couple months, now is your chance to finish it up and send in your review!