The Lord’s Table: A Sacrament of Missional Reorientation

By Cailey Morgan

In just a few weeks, many of us will gather in Banff for CBWC’s Pastors, Chaplains and Spouses Conference. Every year this event is a fruitful retreat and celebration of God’s work in us together, but the Church Planting Team is especially thrilled this year to be hosting David Fitch as our keynote speaker. He will be sharing about several practices God’s people have been called to engage in as we seek to live in the way of Jesus.

Between now and then, we will post some of our comments regarding Fitch’s reasoning and approach to these practices in order to prime our minds and hearts for what David will bring to Banff in November.

In his book Faithful Presence, Fitch uses the framework of three circles to explain how our identity as God’s people is to be lived not only within the core church community (close circle), but in our homes and neighbourhoods (dotted circles) and in the public sphere, especially among the marginalized (half circle). Today, I’m going to share a few Faithful Presence quotes and thoughts about communion in those circles.

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The Lord’s Table has become rote in some of our congregations, and forgotten in others. However, this sacrament is central to Fitch’s idea of what shared Christian life should look like–and for good reason. As Paul reminds us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

A Kingdom Act

The close circle represents the first space of the Lord’s Table…there is the closest of fellowship and unity with one another. No one can miss this closeness around the table on the night when Jesus was betrayed. Here, at the celebration of the Passover, Jesus is seated as the host.

Communion is a Kingdom of God act–it tells us the Kingdom of God is near. It reorients us to God’s ways as we have all been twisted up and spun around to focus on things that don’t really matter.

When we sit around this table and tend to his presence…each of us must come to grips again with the reality that Christ is present at the table in a real, sacramental way. We must tend to his special presence because his presence always brings the reordering of our lives together into his kingdom.

Communion reminds us that we are God’s subjects and His kids–our identity is secure in His right-side-right Kingdom. Therefore, as we begin to live out our calling on this earth as ministers of reconciliation, we can do so with submission to each other and humility to all, following the example of our King who humbled Himself by coming to earth and becoming submissive to even death on a cross (Philippians 2).

There is no kingdom without subjects….our submission to Jesus spreads out into mutual submission to one another, and a new social order is birthed out of this, which is nothing less than his kingdom.

We don’t need to stand up for our rights, or fret over our reputations. We are His and can submit to His ways knowing they are good. What an intimate and empowering reminder we are invited into at the Lord’s Table!

A Table of Welcome

This invitation to become children and co-workers with Christ doesn’t end with us around the table of the faithful.

The Lord’s Table happens every time we share a meal together with people and tend to the presence of Christ among us. Granted the formal Lord’s Table only happens at the close table. But that table extends from there…

If we can recognize his presence at work around the table, we will be able to recognize his work in the rest of our lives as well. If we can be trained into its logic of forgiveness, reconciliation, and renewal on Sunday, we can recognize that same logic of his presence in the world…Like Jesus, we go, not as hosts inviting people to our table, but as guests, submitting ourselves to the hospitality of others…we give up control, risking humiliation and even scandal…The question is not whether Jesus will be present, but will he be recognized?

I have to admit that most of the time I don’t recognize Christ’s presence around me, but I long for the day where His Kingdom logic is so ingrained that I can recognize His presence at work and maybe even be an arrow drawing others’ attention towards His goodness and grace. And I believe fostering a robust understanding and practice of the Lord’s Table is the next step in this growth process for me.

Some questions to ponder:

  • How does your congregation practice the Lord’s Table? How could practicalities like frequency and atmosphere deepen your understanding of this invitation into Christ’s presence and mission?
  • Do you see yourself as a host of Christ’s presence? How? What fruit has that reality borne in the life of your faith community or neighbourhood?
  • Are you willing to undergo regular reorientation of your identity and purpose?
  • Where are some tables in your community where Jesus is present but not yet recognized? How could humility and submission on your part bring light and hope around those tables?

I look forward to hearing your responses at #CBWCbanff2017!

All quotes from David E. Fitch, Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission (InterVarsity Press): Kindle Edition.

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Prototyping Churches

By Cailey Morgan

I was recently listening to the Thom Rainer Leadership Podcast. Their guest was Jimmy Scroggins, a pastor from Florida who tells the story of his church, which moved from a mega-church mentality, rebooting into a neighbourhood-centric church and eventually planting into a network of these smaller local congregations.

His story caught me, partially because of his attitude toward success. He had stopped worrying about how big or how fast the church was growing, and how fantastic their facilities were, and started thinking in terms of reaching everyone in their city.

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In our Western Canadian context, as much as we’d all agree that our churches want to reach everyone, my guess is that we find most of our growth through lateral movement–that is, Christians moving to our church. We don’t see a high ratio of people coming to faith, and when they do, they have often come from a background that was already familiar with Christianity, or saw the Church in a favourable light.

Prototyping
Jimmy Scroggins’ outlook on the church is that it should look like the neighbourhood. They have diversified into smaller neighbourhood congregations in order to reach the specific type of people that live in each community. This type of multiplication also has the added benefit of being accessible to various types of leaders and removes the pressure of having to conform to certain expectations of what church should be. As he says, anyone can do it:

“Just start. Start with one. You can’t sit around waiting for everything to line up, and get your whole plan together. I am a big believer in prototyping–and anybody can do it.”

We’re doing a decent job at reaching some people with our present forms of church and evangelism, and I celebrate the vibrancy we are seeing in so many of our congregations across the CBWC. But to reach the unchurched and the totally unreached in our neighbourhoods, something’s going to have to change (check out Mike Frost’s brief video on this topic).

Our Turn
Would you be willing to consider participating in some R&D, initiating a “prototype” in your area? Think about your neighbourhood. What does is look like? What does it need? What does it have to offer the greater community? Who isn’t being reached?

And what about your existing church? What do your people have to offer? Who can you train into leadership? What other congregations in the area could you partner with to offer something new to a demographic or neighbourhood that isn’t presently being reached?

“Start something, and try it! If it doesn’t work the way you want, tweak it or change it, or try something different. But every pastor in every neighbourhood–rural, urban, suburban, ex-urban–everybody can be training leaders and trying to figure out how can we start new congregations to reach new populations of people in our area that are not being reached.”

Shannon, Joell and I really do believe that every church is called to and capable of multiplication in some form. That’s why we’re here to pray for, evoke, resource, and support you on that journey to health and growth. Talk to us today!

Find us at The Gathering this weekend in Calgary to chat about what could be next for you and your congregation. We’ll have some resources for you, and would love to collect some stories of life and growth in your area that we can share here on the blog.

Bah Humbug!

By Shannon Youell

A few weeks ago Oxford, the dictionary people, announced their word of the year: Post-truth. They define it as follows:

“an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’

Rather than simply referring to the time after a specified situation or event – as in post-war or post-match – the prefix  in post-truth has a meaning more like ‘belonging to a time in which the specified concept has become unimportant or irrelevant.’”

There we go folks…apparently it’s official! We live in an age where we are being convinced that truth has become unimportant and irrelevant. To which I again express, Humbug! (which is a real word describing ways to fool people).

Before we all nod our heads in agreement with an intensity that could cause us whiplash, we should recognize that we all fall victim to truth as subjective to our own emotions and personal beliefs. For the purposes of this blog, I refer to the way we sort how we live out life as followers of Jesus. We tend to pick and choose. Seriously…we do. We live life at the smorgasbord of Jesus and choose what we like and leave behind what we don’t, are unsure of, or just plain uncomfortable with.

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Take evangelism for instance. We are great at self-exempting ourselves from this. Frankly we are quite afraid of that word, as we’ve discussed before on this blog. For many, if not most of us, we self-exempt because we see sharing Jesus as something someone else does, yet Jesus invites us to a ‘come and see’, ‘go and tell’ way of life…..as we go in our ordinary lives. You might right now be thinking, yes but there is that passage about evangelism being an appointed gift. Go ahead. I will challenge you on that passage though. Go back and read it again and see if it is actually an exemption passage.

Reimagining Evangelism
At the Banff Pastor’s Conference this year, we had a round table discussion around reimagining evangelism where we asked ourselves the questions: Is evangelism a mission impossible? Can we re-engage in it as believers and followers of Jesus?

In light of living in an age of post-truth, can we become truth-tellers? Do we dare? Or are we so paralyzed that truth telling will bring us scorn and rejection, we prefer to stay silent in the midst of humbug?

Our society can try to convince us all we want that truth is unimportant but the massive publishing dollars procured from ‘meaning of life’ books reveals the real truth about that. Humans are seekers of truth. And in agreement with the definition, we do often find truth through emotion and personal belief. So though our culture can shout ‘post-truth’, it is in how truth-telling is defined that gives us an entry point to share this Jesus, whose birth we are celebrating this month.

When I look at how Jesus went and truth-told he did so with fact (today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing; the kingdom of God is among you; I will be with you always; Go in peace and be freed from your suffering). God has fulfilled his promise to Israel, King Jesus is come to establish ‘on earth as it is in heaven’, the kingdom of God where what is wrong is made right again. These were the some of the objective facts he presented.

As well, Jesus also told the truth through people’s emotions and personal beliefs. He gospeled people where they were. To those struggling with guilt he offered forgiveness. To those marginalized, he placed them in the front of the line and in places of honor. To those sick he offered compassion and healing. To those who were deemed less valued, he publicly spoke to, recognized and preferred.  To those lost in their own personal confusion, he brought clarity. He truth-told into each one’s story at the place of entry that would speak the strongest to them.

This was the Jesus way of evangelism. He really didn’t give a four step formula to how to be saved, but rather stepped into the places of people’s story where they were at and revealed God already at work in the midst of their story. Evangelism is really just that.

Exposing Our Humbug Rhetoric
So can we expose the humbug rhetoric of our world that tries to fool us into even questioning our own truth? Can we merely take the time to be truth-tellers of this great celebration? Can we begin to discard the foolish deception that we “belong(ing) to a time in which the specified concept (of objective truth) has become unimportant or irrelevant”?

This is the beginning of re-imagining and re-engaging with the Story we objectively lean into as our personal truth and it is that we share, with all our deep convictions and emotions that Jesus is King in my life and the world as our Prince of Peace, bringing the deep shalom of God into all the places we live, work, play and pray in.

Great peace and joy to all.

 

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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.

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  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

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!

 

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.

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  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.

History of Compassion

This article by Gordon King is from the blog of our brothers and sisters at the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. Thanks CBOQ!

Hunger and access to food during times of crisis are a threat to global stability and the well-being of millions of people. Four numbers illustrate some of the dimensions of this humanitarian challenge.

9 – One out of every nine people in the world suffers from hunger or under-nutrition.

70 – Seventy percent of hungry people live in rural areas where food is produced.

80 – Eighty percent of the food consumed in Africa and Asia comes from family farms of less than two hectares.  Increasing the production of these farms is a key to addressing rural hunger and feeding the growing population of the world.

30 – Over the past 30 years foreign aid to agriculture has declined.

By Marc Di Luzio

Canadian Baptists have a long history of compassion for people that suffer from hunger. During the Great Depression, meals were provided in church halls and the homes of families. The government of Canada donated food to hungry populations following the Second World War. The Sharing Way was established to care for people threatened by hunger, disease, and poverty. Ethiopia was shaken by an immense famine in the early 1980s. Farmers from Baptist churches in the prairie provinces sent their crops to care for the starving. Bruce Neal and Arnold Epp were leaders in the founding of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Today Canadian Baptists continue this tradition with an instinctive understanding that witness in our communities and our world requires us to respond to the needs of hungry. This mission is enacted in creative ways:

  • Community gardens.
  • Support for food banks
  • Classes on cooking and nutrition.
  • Sustainable agriculture projects in East Africa and India.
  • Food relief programs for families displaced by the Syrian civil war.
  • Advocacy to the Government of Canada to increase the percentage of international aid offered to farmers with small landholdings in the Global South.

“When I was hungry you gave me food” is a phrase from the final parable of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus goes on to say that we show our love for him when we care for the needs of those who are weak and vulnerable.

What are some of the other ways you’ve seen Canadian Baptists showing compassion for Canada and the world? Share your thoughts here.

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.

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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.

 

 

Multiplication Strategies: The Meeting House

by Cailey Morgan

Last October, I wrote an article posing the question, “what could multiplication look like?” I shared my personal understanding of church growth from my upbringing at Southside Community Church, a small multi-congregational church in Greater Vancouver.

4857950460_b8c1c03ea4_bThis time, I want to share another way to see through the multi-site lens, from the other side of the country at a large church called The Meeting House. I hope you are as inspired as I am by their story of multiplication:

Back in 1985, Craig and Laura Sider moved to Oakville, Ontario to start Upper Oaks Community Church with a dream to reach people who had given up on religion.  Strongly supported by the Brethren in Christ (BIC) denomination—an awesome 200-year-old movement rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan heritage with a passion for innovative church planting—they launched on Easter Sunday 1986 and began building a vibrant community radically committed to living and sharing the message of Jesus.

In 1996, after many years of service in Oakville, Craig and Laura decided to accept a leadership position with the BIC in Pennsylvania. That’s when Bruxy Cavey stepped in as Teaching Pastor and a few years later, Tim Day joined him as Senior Pastor… During those years, the church found new clarity of vision, expanded its Home Church network, re-engineered its Sunday morning programming, and changed its name to The Meeting House.

In 2002, The Meeting House launched its first regional site in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where they gathered weekly, initially in a school and later in a movie theatre, to watch The Meeting House teaching on DVD.  As we caught a vision for what God could do through a multi-site church, we set to work on some goals that helped us focus on what God was calling us to do…

We are what you call a multi-site church. That means that we have one main production site in a secret underground bunker in the desert…okay not really…it’s in Oakville, Ontario, and we have multiple regional sites in other locations. From this central site we roll out our teaching and other resources to multiple regional sites in other geographical locations all over the place. It’s kind of like our “head office” if you are into that kind of corporate lingo but really it’s a converted warehouse that we use for our offices, video production facilities, supply center and Sunday morning services for people in the local area.

Our regional sites mostly meet in movie theatres that we rent in various local communities. Each week, we transport our trailers full of sound equipment, program supplies and other stuff to various locations and set up our sites for a church service led by a Lead Pastor whose job is to connect with people. Here people gather weekly to watch the teaching that is delivered on the big screen by means of high-def video files and generally hang out as a larger community.  When we are done, we pack up and go home or to the local chicken hut just as people are coming in for the afternoon matinee.

But all this is just part of the picture. Our real focus (our hidden agenda) is on what we call Home Church. These are small groups that meet in individual homes each week to talk, become friends and to reach out to their local communities. This is the core of who we are because we feel that only when people connect relationally with people, discuss ideas, serve together, and learn to get along, that they truly function spiritually as God intended…

We believe that church is about more than just coming and hearing someone speak on a Sunday. Home Church is where we get to ask questions, figure out life together, care for one another and discover the unique ways God has created us to help out in our communities.

Sundays are a great time for all of us to get together and learn. But if we leave it at that, we’re missing out on a lot. In fact, we often say if you have to choose between Sunday morning and Home Church – choose Home Church!   (This information and more about The Meeting House can be found at themeetinghouse.com).

What do you find inspiring about The Meeting House’s culture and way of meeting? What do you find challenging or difficult? Why would this style of church planting and multiplication work in your context, or why not? Please share your comments on the blog!

Over the next months we hope to tell more stories of God working through all kinds of frameworks and models. Share your church planting story with us 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.