Church Planting Update

By Shannon Youell, Church Planting Coordinator and Cailey Morgan, Assistant to the Director of Church Planting

This article appeared first in CBWC’s newsletter Making Connections. Subscribe to Making Connections here.

We received some interesting research recently from Lifeway Research and Ed Stetzer. The research is the first Church Planting Survey to explore the Canadian context, and draws for us an overview of current church planting trends and practices. The study found that three broad patterns—praying, equipping, and sharing Jesus—are foundational to greater church planting success in Canada.


The study found that church plants who regularly prayer-walk are more likely to have a majority-unchurched congregation, and church plants with regular prayer meetings are more likely to reach financial sustainability. While financial stability may not be the most spiritual sounding measure of church plant growth, it is certainly a factor and reminds us of Jesus’ promise: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

Will you join us in praying for our new church plants, and commit to intentional, enduring, heart-changing prayer for God’s children in your congregation to catch the passion of God’s heart?  Will you join us across Western Canada as we pray with fervency for those to whom the Kingdom of God has not yet been revealed?  This is what Jesus taught us to pray for!


Stetzer’s research indicates that both denominational support and peer-to-peer equipping have an impact on the chance of a church plants success.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,  while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).

Part of what we do as a family of churches is to provide denominational resources for existing and future church plants, as well as facilitating partnerships between congregations. Some of our member plants need more support in the fragile first years of life, and certainly our existing churches can learn and be stretched by the new ideas and vigour our church planters bring to the table.

You will be hearing more over the coming months, of various ways your church can a) be equipped to multiply in the coming years and b) help to equip and encourage our new church plants. Please consider how you can play a part in the equipping of the Body of Christ in Western Canada.

Sharing Jesus

The study found that church plants conducting outreach Bible studies, and those making regular evangelistic visits, have a higher percentage of unchurched folks making commitments. This research should not be surprising, as Paul writes in Romans 10:14, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

If new churches are to come into existence, and if our own churches are to grow in numbers of new believers, we must find ways to join God in this work, without the stigma that the word “evangelism” has for many of us. Over the coming months, the Church Planting team will be exploring the theme of sharing Jesus on our blog,, as well as facilitating a roundtable discussion on this topic at the coming Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference in November.

We hope you will join the conversation online and in person!

The CBWC Church Planting team is exploring new ways to pray, equip, encourage, inspire and catalyze you to participate in the sending mission of God. If you want to find out more about Church Planting, email Shannon Youell at

Sow, Sow…So?

By Cailey Morgan


I heard a talk from Marc Pilon, a young and energetic church planter in Montreal. He says this about his approach to ministry:

“Sow, sow, sow! Sow abundantly and forests will grow: small seeds, trembling faith…Who knows: God may do something! If you’re going to lose sleep church planting, do it sowing, not waiting anxiously to see if something will grow.”

My gut reaction is to tell him to slow down–to discern and plan and use time wisely. But as I think more about it, I realize that sometimes my “planning” time is not wise or discerning at all; rather, it’s an excuse to not get anything done and not be on the hook for results!

Of course there needs to be due process and good stewardship of resources, but is it possible that our fear of failure has made us meticulous to the point of stagnating? If we want to see change in our neighbourhoods, change in our churches, change in our culture, we need to start with change in ourselves: “Who knows: God may do something!”

I’m thankful for my history of growing up in a church plant where it was understood that in order to reach people who aren’t currently hearing the Gospel, we need to get creative and enter their contexts. This attitude of “try everything” made for a few  embarrassing flunks along the way, but it also gave lots of grace and space for those on the margins to enter a safe community.

Marc Pilon continues, “Do we complexify our task too much? Do we make ministry so complicated that we get caught up in the little things instead of sowing abundantly?”

Ed Stetzer, a church planter and leading researcher on church planting and growth, would agree: he says that movements become movements when they are reproducible at every level. When we make our mission focus too complex, it’s hard to develop the next generation of leaders. When we complicate the Gospel, we hamstring our evangelism. Instead, let us remember the simple way Christ shared His ministry: “Come and See,” then, “Follow me,” then “Go and make disciples.”

I pray for each of you in your ministry and community that the seeds you sow will grow by God’s power, and that those you are discipling, even little seedlings, would reflect the prophecy of Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”


Book Reviews: How you can get involved

At the Banff Pastors Conference in 2014, CBWC’s Church Planting ministry launched an initiative in which a pastor could receive a book in exchange for reviewing that book for the church planting blog. Since then, the program has stretched to include any readers of the blog, and many helpful and thoughtful reviews have been shared.

All of these book reviews are available on the Church Planting blog at, including analyses of Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways, Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird’s Viral Churches, and Timothy Paul Jones’ Family Ministry Field Guide. Many of the reports focus on church planting books and other missional community minded books. Others review guides or textbooks that church planters, and in fact, all believers serving in local congregations, will benefit from.

A most helpful element of the reviews is their honesty. Some readers reported that they loved their assigned book, as in with this reviewer: “You are right. The book is great. I’m having trouble putting it down; about 1/3 through it already.”

Mark Archibald

However, others found it important to share their negative experiences as well: “I was deliberating about whether to tell it like it is or to sugar-coat. I decided to be honest with what I feel the Lord would have me share. I hope it is of some benefit to someone.”

And some readers are just in it for the freebies: “Can I do another one in 2016? I am addicted to free books.”

There are still books available to be reviewed in 2016, such as the following:

If you would like to read and review one of these books, or have another book in mind that would benefit readers of the Church Planting blog, email Cailey at


Book Review: Viral Churches

Review by Mark Archibald of Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird’s Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (Jossey-Bass, 2010).

Mark Archibald

Ed and Warren say it well: “This book can be summarized in two words: multiply everything.”

Whether church planting or serving in an established church, so much of what we try to do happens by addition. Add a new ministry. Add a staff member. Plant a new church.

Viral Churches challenges you to abandon the complex math of addition and instead take on the simple math of multiplication. Do everything with the intent of that church (ministry, leader, small group) being multiplied.

Though specific to people involved in church planting, this book has much to teach established churches about the value of multiplication and church planting. Established churches are encouraged to invest in planting churches as this benefits the “sending” church as much as the planted church.

IMG_0741 IMG_0740IMG_0742

Viral Churches challenges us to be in the practice of giving away and sending leaders, resources, church members instead of holding tightly to what we already have in hopes we don’t lose our leaders, resources and church members.

The material is based on years of study of church plants in North America and around the world. It is fueled by accurate information, discredits half-truths about church planting, and inspires you be part of the movement of leading people to Christ via planting churches. A variety of currently used models of multiplication in church planting provide practical, attainable examples.

This book challenged me to think in terms of multiplication as I train leaders and volunteers, encourage small groups within our church, and partner with church plants both inside and outside of the CBWC family.

Mark Archibald
Pastor of Spiritual Formation
First Baptist Church, Lethbridge

Mark Archibald


Multisite Churches: Here to Stay?

Pastor, researcher and church planter Ed Stetzer asks some good questions about planting multisite churches:

Are multisite churches really here to stay? Are multisite churches wise when it comes to accomplishing the mission of God? How can multisite church be done well?

Read his full article here. 

Here’s CBWC Church Planting Coordinator Shannon Youell’s perspective:

Ed Stetzer observed  that multi-site methodology and commitment to church planting are not necessarily exclusive of one another.   wonder (and hope) if part of the popularity in the surge of multi-site campuses is that people want to gather in the neighbourhoods they live, work and play in as this is their mission field.  Perhaps, as Stetzer determines, it has more to do with the focus than the methodology.
When our purpose for springing up places to gather for worship, discipleship, fellowship and encouragement is to prepare God’s people to join God in his mission to deliver his mercy, love, hope, healing, salvation, joy and justice, then I say let’s utilize the tools that are appropriate for our context.
What do you think?  We’d love to hear from you!

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

Everybody Has Something to Say About Church Planting! How about you?

It seems that everyone is talking about planting new churches. Church Plants come in all shapes, sizes, types, and philosophies.

There are books about planting missional churches, 21st-century churches, successful churches (do people write books about planting unsuccessful ones?).

Church-Planting-wimpsI love some of the titles:

There are also some terrific authors and practioners, including Ed Stetzer (a prolific writer/blogger with lots of good stuff to say, Michael Frost (for the folks who like it straight up), Alan Hirsch (an Aussie globetrotter with lots of penetrating insights), Sean Benesh (planting in urban contexts and a personal favourite), Frank Viola (for the organic flavor of church planting), and the list goes on.

Check out this link to some of the better reads. If you’ve read some of the authors I’d love to hear your insights.

Who knows, maybe someday you’ll write a book saying something about your church planting experiences. I’d love to get a copy!

That’s my story – for now.