You Gotta Give it Away

By Mark Archibald, Pastor of Spiritual Formation, First Baptist Church Lethbridge

Derek Webb, the musician formerly of the band Caedmon’s Call, has discovered the secret of increasing your album sales, concert attendance, and enlarging your fan base:

Give your music away for free.

His website–or is Webb-site?–NoiseTrade allows musicians and songwriters of all levels of experience to pass along music for free, thus enlarging the possibilities of what they are able to do in their career.  Rather than holding tight to income and royalties, these artists gain far more with open hands than they ever would with tight fists.

The secret to church growth that I keep reading about is the same: give of yourself freely.

At 114 years old, First Baptist Church is by no means a church plant. We’re older than the city in which we live! But as a multi-staff facility with a high volunteer involvement we have the opportunity to support church plants and smaller congregations around us.

As much as this makes us sound gracious and good and giving, here’s a dirty little secret: Sharing with church plants and smaller churches is an incredibly selfish venture. We gain too much by going and sharing that we cannot afford NOT to go!

The example that has been most meaningful to us has been the multiplication of our Day Camp (traditionally called “Vacation Bible School”).  Volunteers pour weeks and months into preparing for the Day Camp that we host at our church.  It runs from 9:00-noon for 5 days in the first full week of July and is open for kids entering grades 1-6.

As we prepared for our own Day Camp, we were also preparing to do this same Day Camp in 3 other locations. All of these locations would not be able to run a program like this on their own, and they appreciate the extra help and resources. The same camp was multiplied (or maybe recycled) as:

  • A four-afternoon Day Camp at Lighthouse Gospel Church in Stand Off.  Stand Off is a town in the Kainai-Blood Tribe First Nations Community within a half hour from Lethbridge.
  • A 3-day Day Camp with a church plant in Kaslo, BC.
  • A 3-Sunday event at Brooks International Gospel Church, a CBWC church plant with high Philippino and African attendance and leadership.

Because the Day Camp is built to be multiplied, we benefit in these ways:

  • Leadership is multiplied.  The Kaslo Day Camp was led by Karen McBeath, our Children’s Ministry Coordinator, and the Brooks location was directed by our summer staff.
  • Relationships are multiplied. We have an affinity with Brooks because of our CBWC connection, accompanied with an ever-growing partnership.  A significant percentage of people who live on the Kainai First Nation at some point in their lives will be living in Lethbridge – we are sowing seeds for future relationship possibilities. The Stand Off Day Camp continues to be done in partnership with Park Meadows Baptist Church.
  • Youth discipleship is multiplied.  Do you know who is most available to volunteer with these Day Camps? Middle School Students! Their ideas of church, Christ and the world get enlarged with every trip. They get on-the-job training elsewhere that benefits us at our own church (I told you we were selfish)!
  • Diversity is multiplied. The Kaslo event was truly a multi-generational venture. Many of our retirees spend summer near Kaslo and were delighted to serve while on vacation. We have so much that we learn and appreciate from First Nations, African and Filipino culture when we take the Day Camp show on the road.

When we give of our staff and volunteers to these other churches, our ministry involvement increases, our people grow deeper in their own faith through service, and our entire church gets excited about possibilities for ministry in our region. When we look inward we shrink.  When we look outwards, the possibilities for growth in our own church are endless!

What ministries and assets at your own church can you multiply?

Talk to Church Planting Director Shannon Youell today about how you can pool your resources with other churches and church plants in your area. Email or call 250.216.6332.

Is Your Church a Landmark or a Lighthouse?

By Danny Franks (

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis CC Sharealike

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis CC Sharealike

Not long ago I was having coffee with a pastor friend who mentioned that in his church, not one single member lived within a fifteen minute drive of the building.

Think about that: not one person from the neighborhood shows up on Sunday. Not one from the adjacent neighborhood. Or the neighborhood adjacent to that.

Drive in any direction for a quarter hour, and you wouldn’t find a single person connected to the church.

I don’t know if it’s always been that way, but I’d suspect it hasn’t. I’d guess that at one point, the church was a lighthouse in the community: people knew it was there, knew what it stood for, and were both cared for and drawn in. I would guess there was a time that the church was both attractional and missional.

But at some point, something changed. Something shifted. The community inside no longer connected to the community outside, and as the commuting times changed, so did the mission.

The lighthouse became a landmark.

Rather than being a place known for its love to the community, it became a place that wasn’t known much at all.

Just head down this road until you get to a church, then hang a right.

Every lighthouse can eventually become a landmark. Every community inside can cease to reach the community outside.

How about your church? Are you a landmark or a lighthouse?

A Week of Prayer for Church Planting

By Ron Orr

January 18-25 is for many churches a Week of Prayer.

As Canadian Baptists we are participating members of the Canadian Council of Man PrayingChurches that organize this common call to prayer. Church fellowships all around the world participate.

Whatever connections you prefer, start the New Year in prayer. The suggested theme for this year’s prayer is, “Jesus said to her: ‘Give me a Drink.’”

“Give me a drink” is the cry of the many people in Canada who are soul thirsty. Pray that the best and most important news anyone can hear will be spoken into their understanding. Pray that communities of faith—of prayer—will be established amongst each.

Pray that we will grow our neighbourhoods and communities into places of faith, prayer and new churches. I think that it begins when WE pray. We cannot reproduce praying communities if we ourselves are not praying.

Pray that God would stir us into prayer.
Pray for awakening.
Pray for the Christians all around you, but to whom you never speak.
Pray for them though they are of a different language or just a different tradition.
Pray for that group that may rent your facility.

And pray with them.

Pray for Christian unity.

I have been challenged lately by some of the churches in our midst. They meet 2 or 3 hours weekly for pray. Some hold monthly, all night prayer vigils.

Pray for churches that do not yet exist.
Pray for a vision to see them coming.
Pray for leaders to raise them up.
Pray for sacred money from kingdom investors.
Pray for new wineskins.


Visit the Our Tribe page for details on various Church Plants and how you can pray for them.

Introducing Shannon Youell

Good news: we welcome the CBWC’s new Church Planting Coordinator to our team.

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Rev. Shannon Youell of Victoria, BC, has accepted the position of overall Church Planting Coordinator and as the BC-Yukon Regional Church Planting Director.

This appointment will build on the strong church planting momentum created by Tom Lavigne, who served as the CBWC’s Director of Church Planting for four years. Going forward, the CBWC has decided to take a regional approach rather than centralizing the work of church planting in one location. 

Shannon will work with the Alberta and Heartland church planters to support existing church plants, cast church planting vision, and catalyse new church plants in each region, in addition to starting church plants in BC and the Yukon. Ordained in 2012, she has worked as an itinerant speaker and worship leader for 10 years. She has a passion that intentional practices grow deeper in worship and in our knowledge and intimacy with God.

“I am very passionate about believers who are the church, being the tangible presence of Jesus in the places and spaces where we live, work, play and pray.  This is God’s call on us: to join him in his mission as his witnesses to reveal the good news of the kingdom of God,” Shannon says.  “I am passionate in moving us from our places of worship where we gather a time or two a week, to being scattered about our neighbourhoods, towns and cities and blessing those places and making a difference in some way that reveals the God of love, hope, joy, peace, mercy and healing who so loves the world that He desires none should perish!”

Pray with us for Shannon in her new role–and don’t be afraid to send her an email ( and introduce yourself!


Pray with Us

Let’s continue to lift of our Church Plants in prayer:prayer-2013-1

  • For an emphasis on the lost and the harvest
  • For sufficient and passionate workers
  • For cultural sensitivity
  • For breakthroughs against the strongholds
  • For a safe environment for suffering people
  • That they might become a house of prayer

Check out our prayer page or share a prayer request with us

This prayer list is from the Christian Reformed Church’s prayer guide.

Pray with Us

In the coming weeks, let’s pray through these elements of the Church Plants themselves:

  • For anointed worshipprayer-2013-2
  • For powerful teaching of the Word
  • For a spirit of unity
  • For wisdom and discernment
  • For protection from the onslaught of the enemy
  • For people eager to identify and use their spiritual gifts
  • For abundant financial resources

Check out our prayer page or share a prayer request with us

This prayer list is from the Christian Reformed Church’s prayer guide.

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

The Urban Planter

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

By Tom Lavigne

I’ve noticed a few changes (understatement) since we moved back into “Urbania.” Vancouver, BC, is where I was raised – and now return to after thirty years of living in Northern British Columbia and Alberta.
• I’ve gone from a land of open spaces, breathing room, light traffic and low density to a place of close proximity, tight spaces, traffic indigestion and high density living.

• I left Urbania as part of the cultural majority and have now returned as a visible minority.

• I’ve come from a place of limited choices to a centre of unrestricted options.

• From closer knit families and friendships to a land of many people yet little sense of community.

So how does the Urban Church Planter live out the kingdom of God in multi-culture, multi-options and multi-people Urbania?

Southside Community Church is the multi-congregational church my wife and myself are a part of. Southside’s values include living “in and for” our community. Our core families engage incarnationally on the mission of God desiring to impact our neighbours in Urbania.

Here are some good reads on the topic of the Urban Planter:

David Broodryk has written a terrific article, “Re-thinking Urban Church Planting,” about some insights and strategies for addressing the uniqueness of kingdom life in an urban context.

Dr. Sean Benesh @seanbenesh has written several intriguing books (including Metrospiritual: The Geography of Church Planting and View From the Urban Loft: Developing a Theological Framework for Understanding the City) that delve into engaging the urban culture with the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada we have several people planting churches in the downtown core of our cities – seeking transformation while living with those on the margins. We’d love to hear your stories of planting new churches in urban contexts.

Bye for now, I have to leave early to avoid rush hour. Until next time,

Tom Lavigne, Director of Church Planting


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

Like what you read?

If you’ve been as challenged and encouraged as we have by our recent series of articles from Timothy Keller, you may want to check out some of the other resources he has available.

Here’s a link to a list of Tim Keller’s book titles, or you can click here to find his blog.

As Keller’s article series wraps up, let us know what you think. Are these types of articles helpful? What topics do you think GO WEST! should tackle? Email Cailey at with your feedback, or share on our blog.

Thanks for reading!

~Tom and Cailey