Is Our Plan Working?

By Shannon Youell

Dallas Willard said that “every church should be able to answer two questions: First, what is our plan for making disciples? Second, does our plan work?”

Is what we are currently doing shaping disciples who live out the gospel in such way that others are drawn to them and are discipled by them? When I say “gospel” I am referring to everything Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God present on earth, and what that looks like in our everyday living…and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life into it.

Our last post left us thinking about these two questions. Willard’s second question, “does our plan work?” assumes we understand what “working” implies. Our ingrained understanding is that in teaching people to read their Bible, pray, tithe, engage in good works both in the church community and the greater community around them, that we are making disciples. I believe the church has mostly done a very good job of doing these things. But have we made disciples?

In last week’s blog, I observed that the good and faithful folk at my home church were reluctant to engage in the 77 Days of Prayer because they felt they didn’t know how to pray, how to engage with the scriptures, and were uncomfortable being with folk they didn’t choose themselves to meet with! So have we made disciples as Jesus made disciples? We certainly have made good and faithful church folk.


So is our plan working? Well, yes, if the above is what we planned to make – good and faithful service attendees. Perhaps now is exactly the time, then, to revisit our plans. Not because we shouldn’t be pastoring, leading, teaching, guiding people to discover life in Christ and the tangible ways it shapes how we choose to live our lives, but because Jesus encouraged this and then pushed us out a little further (or, depending on your particular context, a lot further).

From what I read in the Gospels, Jesus’ method of making disciples was less about corralling the sheep in a safe place, and more like inviting them out of the boat without floaties. He sent them into the leper colonies without vaccines; He sent them into the world purse-less and with no outward protection to face wolves disguised as sheep.

Jesus’ method of making disciples was life on life: take a risk, get out of your comfort zone, practice/make mistakes/learn something more/go try again until that demon listens, that mountain is thrown into the sea, that challenge is met and the Kingdom of God reveals itself right in front of our sometimes-unexpectant eyes!

When Jesus gave His disciples some of His final words while on this earth, He commanded them to make disciples devoted to and covenanted with God, and to teach those disciples to listen to and live by everything He had been teaching to the current batch of disciples. Those first disciples, upon doing that, likely told their disciples to do the same when they were ready to be sent out, since they would have been doing and saying what Jesus instructed them to do. And so on. Disciples make disciples who can make disciples.

This was what Jesus Himself called His followers to do. He commanded us to make disciples and stated He would build His church. In our current evangelical model, we usually build the church and bring those we’d like to be disciples to someone else to disciple.

So is our plan working?


Peace to This House

By Shannon Youell

Praying in our neighbourhoods is not some new postmodern formula for evangelisation. Though some see it as quite foreign, Jesus and His disciples did just that. One of my favorite verses–well actually a combination of two from John’s writings–is when Jesus said He only did what He saw His Father doing and spoke what He heard His Father speaking (John 12:49, 5:19 my paraphrase).

Jesus walked about His ordinary everyday praying and listening: listening and praying to know where God was at work in the world. Jesus was waiting to step in and reveal the Father to those around Him.


When Jesus sent out others to share the Good News of the kingdom of God, He instructed them to go from place to place looking for where God was already at work: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house’. If a man of peace is there your peace will rest on him: if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10:5-6).

“A man of peace” indicates someone who God is already at work in, whether they are aware or unaware, someone who will listen to what the disciples have to share.This required the disciples to be attentive to where God was at work, which required them to be listening to the Father in a posture of prayer.

Luke 10 gives us much more to ponder and act upon, but as we are focusing on prayer in our neighborhoods, we leave the other instructions for another time. As we have been talking about how we engage with our neighbours, friends, co-workers, we must never lose sight of the fact that, as Cam Roxburgh states in Forge Canada’s new E-Book Volume 1, Loving God and Neighbour, “the missional conversation is about the nature and action of God in our midst, and not first about how we develop a strategy for reaching our neighbours.”

When we develop strategies without first praying and listening, we can have all the best intentions and plans in the world, but still be faced with indifference when the soil is still fallow. Prayer is our dual action of becoming more comfortable and confident that God still speaks to us today, and of preparing the hearts of ourselves and those we are praying for. As we pray for our neighbourhoods and other significant spaces, we invite the Spirit to shine light on the fields and reveal to us what He has already prepared. We are the workers. But without walking those streets, those halls, those trails and cubicle aisles, without praying as we walk, we are the unaware ones–unaware of where God is inviting us to stay awhile, eat and drink, hear stories of the lives of the people around us, and see how God is working.

From my experience, neighbourhood praying isn’t a single prayer. It is prayer that does not cease until God reveals his work both to us and to those we have been praying for. There is strategy for sure….strategy is praying consistently and listening intently. Listening to the Father always comes first for it is, after all, His work that we are joining.

I’ve mentioned before that I prayer walked our neighborhood for many years before something began to shift. Once the shift happened, I then asked God for a strategy. He gave me an uncomfortable one: to invite all the neighbors over for a “meet the neighbours” party. From that party we have been building deeper relationships with one another. These have become some of our people of peace, but it only happened because of prayer and listening.

Jim Putnam’s Discipleship Scorecard

By Shannon Youell

Our church has visitors every week. They come, they go, they shop and some even stay.

I, and others in our community, are always watching to greet these visitors, which is what I did a few weeks ago when one caught my eye. I welcomed him and introduced myself, then asked him what brought him here this morning. He told me that he has spent his adult life living in close relationship with God; that he found Jesus through the Salvation Army Church, attending and serving there many years. He said he prayed, worshiped, read and meditated on Scripture every day, though he had not attended a corporate service in seven years since the Citadel removed the pastor he loved.

By measurement of his spiritual life, we may conclude this man was discipled well. He tried in every way to live a good Christian life and was devoted to God. On the other hand you may disagree that he was discipled well since he doesn’t “attend” worship services. Yet, in reality, he was discipled into exactly what many of us consider a disciple of Christ to be: one devoted to God and living a life of integrity and character and attends church services. He and many, many of us are discipled into individual relationship with God and service within the church programs as being the outcome.

disciple sign.jpg

Indeed, this is central to us having relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters. But does this describe fully what Jesus discipled his followers to?

Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington, in their book Discipleshift, draw our attention to how we “keep score”—how we evaluate success in our churches and in disciplemaking. I quoted Putnam a few months ago on his definition of a disciple:

If that definition does not end up looking like one who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus, then our definition has holes in it.  The bottom line is that a mature disciple of Jesus is defined by relationship. We are known for our love for God and one another.”

Often, I hear pastors and leaders lamenting that their good and faithful folk don’t do relationship well. They are kind and generous, but keep to themselves in everyday life. How then are we “known for our love for God and one another?” And how do we reflect being “committed to the mission of Jesus”?

In Discipleshift, the authors walk us through how we need to change our scorecard, the way we evaluate “from attracting and gathering to developing and releasing.”

“Deploying (releasing) means that people in your church are equipped and motivated to demonstrate God’s love and share their faith with the lost wherever they work or live or go to school—any place they interact with other people. They are also able to do life with other believers in relationship connection. They understand that they are ministers who serve wherever they go in the world. They are becoming people who make disciples at home, love a lost and hurting world, and win people to the Lord as they serve as missionaries in the communities where they live. That is the new scorecard for success.” (pg. 214).

They emphasize that our goal in being the church, or starting new churches, isn’t to gather a crowd and give them information, but rather to “raise up biblical disciples and deploy them into the world so they can raise up other disciples. These disciples are to grow into accurate copies of Jesus who rightly deliver his message in his ways.”

I know in my own church, there are many different ideas of what a disciple of Jesus is. Which creates part of the problem we have with being credible witnesses to those who do not yet know Christ or have decided they are good with their own personal life of worship and devotion.

Could our challenge be to relook at this and teach into what the Bible says about discipleship in the gospels? Here are several questions the book challenges us to look at with open minds and hearts:

  • How does the Bible define discipleship?
  • What does the Bible say a disciple look like?
  • What is the discipleship process as we see it happening in scripture?
  • What are the specific phases of discipleship, as seen in the scriptural models?
  • How will everyone in our church come to know this process?
  • What characteristics (values) must be present for real-life discipleship to occur in our church? (values include love, acceptance and accountability.)
  • How will our church (at every level) emphasize the discipleship process?
  • How will our church practice keep the focus on discipleship by making church “simple” and “clear”?
  • How will our church raise up, reproduce, and release disciple-making leaders?
  • How will our church serve as an attractional light on a hill?
  • How will our church send people out to serve incarnationally in the community?

I am going to start with the first three questions. I will do my best to put aside my already conceived ideas of this and honestly look at this. If I can’t do this, then what am I testifying about what Jesus mandated the Church to do? Who would like to travel this journey with us? Could we begin some dialogue about it? Then we can ask ourselves, our leadership teams the next questions and prayerfully begin to redevelop some of our methodology that has perhaps grown stale and ineffective to mentor and apprentice all those who choose to gather with us for services to participate more comfortably in God’s mission out to the world He loves.


Three Elements of Church Revitalization

By Shannon Youell

I am often asked to talk about “church renewal.” As with many titles or terminologies, this term can be so ambiguous that the meanings are multiple.Recently I was asked with two of my colleagues to do a workshop on Renewal in the Church. The understanding we had of this came out of three areas that had impacted how we think about church and the activities and missions surrounding it.

The first was around context. Where a particular church community is situated can change the dynamics of our lives as both gathered and scattered bodies. Mark Doerksen shared about one of the Heartland churches situated in the heart of farmland. How that church approaches engaging their community can look quite different than an urban church or even an urban church in an economically-depressed area of the city would.

The second was around culture. CBWC world traveler Shelby Gregg shared with us an interesting observation she made while exploring the city of Lisbon in Portugal. She noted that the town itself was a series of concentric circles that formed around church buildings. The church was the focal point of the community development plan because at the time, church was a dominant cultural place of community gatherings. In our post-modern culture here in North America, that is not often the case anymore. Especially in urban centers, the centrality of a church building and the activities found within are no longer the focus of social structures.

I took the group on a story-walk around the neighbourhood and the community around it. Participants in the workshop mapped their own place, some mapping the neighbourhood they lived in, while others did their workplace or church location neighbourhoods. neighbours CC pnwra The purpose of this exercise is to raise awareness in us that we all live and work and shop in the mission field. This is the third area: We are the renewal in our churches. As we share our lives in relationship with those we are surrounded by in our everyday lives, people introduced to living life the Jesus way, and we ourselves find new wonder and joy in seeing how Jesus works in mysterious and amazing ways through us to bring his redeeming, reconciling, restorative hope right here in our neighbourhoods!

Often, we think of renewal in the church as internal changes to programs, to music selections, to small groups. We should continue to reflect on these elements of our culture and context, but systems theory tells us that if we want to change something, changing the system is the wrong way to do it. Systems effectively change when we change our thinking about the things we do. Imposing changes on a system just changes how we approach a particular task, not why we do it in the first place. That was a part of our task at the workshop – to stir up the whys of what we are doing and how effective or ineffective those things may be in differing contexts, cultures and generations. If the why of what we do is to see the kingdom of God advance, then everything we do as gathered and as scattered should reflect that. And since the church is no longer the central community hub in many of our contexts, we will need to rethink how we meet and be salt and light to the world God so loves.

Over the next several blogging articles, I will be sharing with you stories of our CBWC family who are hearing God’s leading into their neighbourhoods and creative ways they are connecting with people beyond their Sunday service gatherings. I would love to hear from you out there in the blog reading galaxy with your stories too! Contact me at so we can chat and share with our tribe how you’ve discovered connecting within your context and culture to those where you live, work, play, and pray!

Shannon Youell
CBWC Church Planting Coordinator


BC-Yukon Update

By Shannon Youell. This update is being published in the CBWC’s BC-Yukon Regional Newsletter Our Journey. Email to subscribe.

It seems I just finished writing all the January newsletters and reports only to discover the cycle starts again already!  How quickly life and time march forward.  It is a stark reminder that we journey this life for a season and that we should endeavor to remain attentive to the working of the Holy Spirit of God dwelling and at work around us wherever we find our time spent.

My update this period is to remind us of attentiveness to pray for the places and people that CBWC is supporting right here in BC as they labour to see the kingdom of God present on earth right where they are!  Please join us in praying for these as we also pray for all of you in your gospeling journey!

Meeting with Pastor Jim Walton of Burnaby North Baptist and Pastor Janet McBeth of Emmaus Community Fellowship.

Meeting with Pastor Jim Walton of Burnaby North Baptist and Pastor Janet McBeth of Emmaus Community Fellowship.

  • We were sad to see Pastor Hizon Cua of Greenhills Christian Fellowship Vancouver move back to the Philippines.  We pray blessing and direction for him and his family as they seek God’s work there.  Please join GCF as they prayerfully seek and listen for God’s direction in the calling of a new lead Pastor who will continue discipling, encouraging, and loving this community and whose vision to plant churches enhances the great work GCF is already doing.  Please pray for the new work already in the beginning stages as they all transition.  Also pray blessing and encouragement for Pastor Tom Lavigne who has served and loved GCF during this time of transition.
  • The CP Team is excited about a new work that is almost ready to launch in Vancouver.  We hope to have details next update for you.  Please pray for Jonathan Lee, Pastor Tad and their pastoral team of Rajan, Charles, Jay and Austin.  This dynamic, diverse, multi-cultural team desires to see God’s light shine in the community around them in ways that bring the presence of the kingdom of God in love, hope, peace, justice, liberty in tangible relational ways.  Currently they are gathering at 5:30 a.m. for forty days of listening prayer that they would clearly hear the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they discern how to live in and engage this community.  Please pray for the community partners they have found right in the neighbourhood and also for CBWC local church partnerships with them.
  • What a pleasure I had a month ago to meet Janet McBeth of Emmaus Community Fellowship!  This lady is full of love and grace for people and particularly the people she is blessed to minister to at Union Gospel Mission where she works and also leads the Emmaus Community in worship, study, prayer, as well as a quarterly coffee house held at Burnaby North Baptist Church.  Solid Rock Café is a place where all are welcome and invited to share their gifts in music, conversation and community.  Janet has asked us to pray for more connection between this ministry and the local church and how we can partner with her.  Please ask God how you/your church community are to partner with Emmaus or consider interning with her in an area of ministry that is challenging but rewarding as lives are transformed by the love of Jesus through Spirit and Followers.  Jesus reminds us that whatever we’ve done for the least among us, we have done for him.
  • Remember also to continue to pray for God’s House of Many Faces, Mill Bay Baptist, Father’s Heart Mission Church, Canaan Life Spring Baptist and their pastors who we’ve featured in recent newsletters.  Prayer is always our first line of support in all we do as Christ Followers.  Please support those who labour humbly and committedly to see the love of Jesus bring healing, hope and rest to a weary world.

I pray for you and for myself with Paul’s amazing words from Ephesians 1:15-19a:

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Shalom dear partners of the gospel of the Kingdom,

Shannon Youell
CBWC Church Planting Coordinator/BCY Director


What ARE we planting? Part III – KINGDOM EXPRESSIONS

By Shannon Youell

When I think of expressions, I think about what characteristics, qualities, nuances I see in faces, in architecture, and in gardens; sounds, notes and layers I hear in music; interpretations in how a theatre production is staged, costumed, acted.  We have all heard different artists express themselves uniquely, though singing the same song. Their own personality–their own emphasis–comes through and speaks to some vividly, while others prefer another artist’s expression of that piece.

Kingdom expressions, I think, are similar.  How one group worships on a Sunday gathering can be completely different than how another group worships and yet they both connect with the Father, sense the moving of the Spirit, experience the liberty of Christ.

One group amongst us holds worship services outdoors when they can.  When the weather doesn’t permit, they gather in homes, not just on Sunday, but during the week. They pray together, perhaps sing, tell the stories of the Gospel together.  This is their expression of being gathered church.

Another group gathers around a common struggle.  They hear scripture, pray, cry, repent, are encouraged, embraced and loved while they work together towards healing and wholeness.  The delivering justice of God brings the presence of the kingdom right where they are broken and open.

For both of these groups, an expression of church that we might consider traditional would not work, so why try to peg them into it?  Each of these are expressions of the Kingdom of God that is marked with peace, hope, love, joy, freedom from oppression, compassion, mercy, justice, salvation— belonging, believing, becoming.

Both of these gatherings grew out of the particular community itself. Faith engagers entered in and discovered where the community lacked hope, mercy, justice, healing, and began to develop an expression of the Kingdom of God there that was relevant and effective to that place.

Is it an area of economic disparity?  High crime? Wealth but isolation?  An area high in single parents? Marginalized? What is that community already doing together, if anything?

In every one of these situations, there are tangible ways to bring an expression of God’s kingdom.  One group I know is going into schools and asking them what they need.  And then figuring out how to help meet that need.  In one case it’s a breakfast program whilst getting to know the kids; in another it’s someone to model positive values and morals to fatherless teen boys, the school staff so broken by the pain they see in these kids, that even those who don’t know Christ see there is something attractive in the Christ disciples who come to serve.

 greggavedon.comI read an article of a group of Christ disciples in the southern states who moved into a particular community and discovered there was no local grocery store.  The community was poor and most did not have transportation to take them to an area with a full store, so they mostly shopped at the local convenience store, feeding their families overpriced, under-nutritious junk.  So the group decided to open up a green grocer, even though business people told them it would flop, it wasn’t a viable plan.  But they did it anyways.

As Jesus community, they pooled their resources and rented space, bought good food, volunteered to staff it and became a beacon in that community by providing, teaching and giving food when the situation arose, to families who only want to provide for their kids.  Salt and light: expressions of the Kingdom being developed in a neighborhood.

When Jesus was looking to develop a faith community, He used stories that suited that community. He used language and situations familiar to His listeners.  He brought expressions of the Kingdom right into their context and culture.

Expressions of the kingdom of God look like something.  They are beautiful, tangible, generous and other-serving, and they are relevant to those to whom the Kingdom has yet to be made known.

In the context of church planting, thus far, we have suggested that if we are thinking like faith engagers, who also think like developers (see part II), we first see what a community needs developed within itself. Then we discover, by relationally becoming acquainted, how the Kingdom of God can be engaged and expressed there.

Next time, How do we know what community to develop?

Shannon Youell
CBWC Church Planting


Be the Mentor you Want to Have

by Cailey Morgan

Chuck Lawless recently wrote a helpful and thorough article on “Why Everybody Needs a Mentor and How to Find One.” And while I think he’s definitely right, there’s another side of the coin. I kind of wish he’d written on “Why Everybody Needs a Mentor and how to BE One.”

Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” goes beyond evangelism. It goes beyond getting people through the door of the church. In fact, if we’re taking discipleship seriously, most of it won’t happen on a Sunday morning.

A big part of the Great Commission is the raising up of God’s children into mature disciples who in turn go and make disciples themselves. I’m convinced a critical piece of that call includes mentorship and menteeship. We all need to be encouraged and challenged, which happens best when coming from someone further along in their walk with Christ. But don’t you think that one of the best ways to solidify what we’ve been learning is to practice it? We all have someone in our lives who could benefit from our encouragement and accountability.Baptism-service-Brother-Sun

So, here are a few of Lawless’ points about why mentorship is important, but I’d like us to relate them to both receiving and giving intentional discipleship:

  • It’s biblical. We can name them. Moses and Joshua. Jethro and Moses. Naomi and Ruth. Elijah and Elisha. Jesus and His disciples. Paul and Timothy. Paul Himself told us that elders must teach the next generation (Titus 2).
  • We’re created to be in relationship with others. When God declared it was not good for Adam to be alone (Gen. 2:18), He was not indicating that every person must be married. Instead, He was showing us that none of us is created to be a loner. He expects us to walk together with others.
  • None of us knows everything. I don’t know anyone who would say he knows all things, but I do know people who live that way – distanced from others, standing alone, and completely unteachable. We are not so smart that we have nothing to learn from another.
  • All of us have blind spots. By definition, a “blind spot” is something we don’t see.  So, if you say you don’t have blind spots, you just admitted you do. We need someone else to help us see ourselves fully.
  • Experience is a great teacher. We know that truth because we’ve been there. We know better now because of mistakes we made in the past. In a good mentoring relationship, we learn from somebody else’s experiences as well.
  • Life will sting sometime. It happens to all of us. The proverbial floor drops out beneath us. Our plans get redirected or shattered. Life hurts – and we need someone to help us carry the burden when it does.
  • People are God’s gift to us. Dr. Bill Lane, the mentor of Christian musician Michael Card, put it this way: “When God gives a gift, He wraps it in a person.” We miss this gift when no one walks beside us to guide and encourage us.

If you need help finding a mentor, or are looking for resources on how to be a good mentor yourself, let us know! We’s be happy to point you in the right direction.



Here’s a great article we’re reposting from CBWC Church Planter Jodi Spargur’s blog. Talk to us to find out about supporting God’s House of Many Faces.

The drum beat reverberated off of the ceiling and walls, it echoed through my body. This sound I have come to associate with our church gathered and it directs my attention to God’s presence among us. This afternoon though we are in a very atypical space for us and my heart is praying that this familiar sound is putting some at ease in what is otherwise an uneasy

Usually we gather outside on the grass and the drum echoes off the buildings around. Other times we gather in a small hall and the drum dominates because of the small space no other conversation is possible. Today we are gathered united in worship though diverse in our expressions, our ethnicities, our styles and our communities of faith. Today we are gathered with our neighbours, both friends and strangers to worship together and to look around the room, reminded of what the body of Christ looks like in our neighbourhood, at least somewhat.

One friend in the midst of conversation with me exclaims, “oh, I had no idea they were follower of Jesus” as a family from another congregation walks through the door. “We walk to school with them every day. My son will be so encouraged to know that he is not alone in his class.”

We are gathered in what is now known as Strathcona Church (funny since that is the name we chose for this blog 5 years ago). Up until a year ago it had been a Korean Foursquare Church with a mostly commuter congregation. Then, last spring it was purchased by a private family with a vision of stewarding this space for the use of various churches in a shared way. While conversation is still ongoing about who all will use the space on a regular basis this joint service was the first event held in the space. For almost a year pastors of incarnational churches in the neighbourhood have been gathering to pray and ask God if there are ways we could work together more intentionally.

God’s House has had a practice of inviting other churches to join us for Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and Christmas services. The Salvation Army had also been spearheading a month of prayer that we would all participate in, but we felt it was also time to gather collaboratively for worship and fellowship. Strathcona Church was a good venue for that and allowed us to all come into the space afresh. The service was organized by Strathcona Vineyard, Mosaic (Alliance), God’s House (Baptist) and we invited The Salvation Army 614, friends who live in the neighbourhood but are attending church outside of it. We also invited churches that are newly planted and anticipated or had just launched; Coastal (non-denominational) and Vancouver Foursquare Church.

On Good Friday we look forward to accepting the invitation from the Chinese churches in the neighbourhood (Mennonite and Church of Christ China) to expand our fellowship further, gathering again in the Strathcona Church space. Jesus prayed that we would be one.

While we all have distinctive contributions it is encouraging to move toward greater unity in these gatherings. In fact it was a goal when we set out at God’s House as a metric of health that we would see greater unity in the whole body of Christ. As with any sign of health, this is God’s doing as we try and lean in to his heart.


What are you celebrating?

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Psalm 150 says, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Building our house took us way longer than we ever expected, cost us way more than we wanted to spend and caused us way more angst than we ever imagined. And then finally the big day arrived! One of the great joys of building a family home is the big day when you finally get to move in. In our case it was moving in on December 15th in -38 degree weather. Needless to say it was a quick unloading of all of our earthly possessions!

All the work and perspiration, the money and expense, the heartache and frustration culminate in a sense of awe and relief– we’ve arrived at last.

After sensing God’s call to plant a new church in our community we prayed and sought confirmation from God. We listened intently to the counsel of wise friends who’d been down the church planting road. And we developed relationships and friendships with people of peace. We were pretty excited, encouraged and a bit naïve. We invested large amounts of time and energy into trying to figure out what God was up to (with lots of surprises along the way). And finally the big day arrived! In church planting there is a tremendous anticipation that builds as you prepare to launch. All the prayer and visioning, the ideas and planning, the hopes and heartaches come together with a tremendous sense of awe – Lord, here we go!

At the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada we love to celebrate some of the great things that are happening in our Church Plants and partnering Churches. This past summer we’ve rejoiced in great times of fellowship at camps, amazing testimonies and baptisms, outreach activities and gospel concerts, and Church Plants investing in new Church Plants – awesome stories of Lord. Lord, here we go! Check some of our stories on our blog ,

Ed Stetzer tells us that, “What You Celebrate You Become.” Check out his article from Christianity Today. It’s an intriguing little series that challenges us to ask the questions of what, why, who, when, how and where do we celebrate God’s faithfulness in our midst. Let us know what you celebrate and how that looks – we’d love to hear more.

Louie Giglio shares some probing questions about celebrating the Church that Jesus is building. Check out his talk on YouTube.

At CBWC Church Planting we’d appreciate hearing your thoughts and stories on celebrating, church planting and what God is up to in your life. Please contact Tom at or Cailey at


Jesus, Master Builder

This article originally published in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne

Over the past 22 years of ministry I’ve been involved in several building projects. Beginning as a pastoral intern I helped oversee a  million-dollar expansion to a church and Christian school. While church planting we were involved in acquiring 6 property lots and renovating a former tire shop into our church’s activity centre, and at our last church we helped facilitate a major debt retirement and building upgrades. Oh, yes, and in the middle of that we built a house.carpenter

While we had lots of great training at Bible College about building our faith and congregational life there as nothing about literal construction. Still, Church Planting is a lot like constructing a new building. You move into a new area, you stake out your territory, you establish a firm foundation and develop your property, and you reach out and connect into your community.

Along the way you’re faced with lots of critical choices and decisions. Where do you want to locate? How much are you prepared to invest? How long are you willing to wait? What quality of product are you expecting? Who are you willing to work with? What compromises are you willing to make? And you answer these questions knowing that your project will take longer than expected, cost more than you’re initially willing to pay, and bring you to your knees in heartache (which may be the best place to operate from).

There is a tremendous sense of awe when you see a new church come to life and when you look upon a completed building project, even when you also know all the quirks in the construction.

I’ve learned much in life from my own and others’ successes and failures. Here are a couple of thoughts from wise builders of God’s Church.

Solomon, the wise king who oversaw the construction of God’s original temple in Jerusalem, makes a tremendous observation: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

The Reverend Dr. Paul Gordon Johnson, when called to ministry, sensed the Lord telling him, “Paul, don’t touch My gold and don’t touch My glory.” Life and ministry is all about God and unless He’s in it—no matter how gifted we think we are—then all our efforts are truly just vanities.

The apostle Paul put it this way: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation and another is building upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other that the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). Every single one of us only has an interim role in ministry. We’re not the end-all. Even if we are church planting, we’re building on the foundation of Jesus, the Gospel and the many thousands who’ve planted before us. We therefore also need to realize that each of us will be handing the baton of ministry off to the next generation—and we dare not drop the baton too soon or hang onto it too long.

We’d love to hear some of your construction stories, whether about building God’s physical temple or His spiritual house—a body of believers. Email me today at, or drop us a comment here on our blog.

Are you considering building a new plant? Or are you able to offer some of the financial, spiritual, or leadership foundations needed to buttress a young CBWC church? Watch this short video on the support networks of CBWC Church Plants, and let us know where you fit in the network.