Summer Video Series 3: Living as Ekklesia

by Cailey Morgan

At CBWC’s 2017 Gathering in Calgary, we were able to share several short videos we thought were particularly helpful for our context. Over the summer, we will be sharing those videos here on the blog in hopes of continuing the conversation, and hearing from you about these important topics.

In today’s video, our very on Shannon Youell shares Living as Ekklesia, a call to consider the history of our language around the church and the ways in which we have exchanged Kingdom values for earthly values without even noticing.

Living as Ekklesia – Being the Church from Online Discipleship on Vimeo.

What do you have to add to the discussion on Ekklesia? In what ways do we as the church today need to change our perceptions and language?

Summer Video Series 2: Living With Intentionality

by Cailey Morgan

At CBWC’s 2017 Gathering in Calgary, we were able to share several short videos we thought were particularly helpful for our context. Over the summer, we will be sharing those videos here on the blog in hopes of continuing the conversation, and hearing from you about these important topics.

Today’s video, Jayne Vanderstelt: Living With Intentionality, speaks to the reality that mission is not something that we add on to what we are already doing in our compartmentalized lives. Rather, mission happens when we respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit, intentionally loving and serving those whom God puts in our path as we live lives that are visible and consistent.

Do you think the lifestyle Jayne presents is feasible? Why or why not?

Summer Video Series 1: The Church for Whom?

by Cailey Morgan

Shannon, Joell and I are thankful for so many resources that are available online for us as we seek to evoke and resources CBWC churches and members towards our shared mission of making disciples who make disciples.

At CBWC’s 2017 Gathering in Calgary, we were able to share several short videos we thought were particularly helpful for our context. Over the summer, we will be sharing those videos here on the blog in hopes of continuing the conversation, and hearing from you about these important topics.

Today’s video, Michael Frost: “The Church For Whom,” helps us consider who it is our churches are actually trying to reach. What sticks out to you? What do you need to do differently? What bugs you about Mike’s assessment of the church?

The Unexpected Guest Part 2

By Shannon Youell

Several weeks ago, I challenged us to look through our Sunday spaces and gatherings through the lens of the unexpected, unchurched or marginally churched person to observe and recognize what barriers we may have that keep folk from feeling they are in a safe place to explore their spiritual curiosity.

In our church, we have a long way to go in this, but here are a few of the practices we have been doing and are leaning into doing more.

  • From the start, we explain everything. From what’s going to happen, to the room layout, to our “amenities”—which include fresh bread to take, coffee bar, children’s activities—to facilitated and explained open communion and prayer throughout the service, we walk people through our gathering every time.
  • We offer connect cards for folk to put name, prayer requests, and if they would like to be contacted.
  • We’ve scheduled a ten minute coffee break mid-point to move and meet people around you,  Our folk are strongly encouraged to connect with guests and begin to move them from stranger to friend.
  • We facilitate a question/thought-sharing time after the sermon, where we encourage people to ask us to explain something they didn’t understand or always wondered about, followed up with a mid-week Dialogue Circle where anything is open for discussion, though we start off around what was talked about the past Sunday.
  • We strongly encourage folk to invite someone to have lunch with them after church.  This summer we are taking it one step further and have several people hosting planned after church picnics at their homes or parks.  These events are easy on the hosts, because everyone brings their picnic lunch with a little extra for unexpected guests (or those who just forgot to pack a lunch!).

These are but a few things and I hope you will all post here things you do to honor and welcome and include the unexpected guest.

handshake

We have had several lately. One new couple came because they were invited by their waiter in a downtown restaurant, only to show up and the waiter had been unexpectedly called into work that morning and wasn’t even there! I can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been to show up and their host was not there! But they stayed and then came back the next week.  Why?  They knew it was okay to ask questions of the pastor if you didn’t understand what was being said.  They were greeted and spoken to by several people and felt very welcomed and  included, and most revealing, the fellow’s brother is a pastor and they have never been invited to church by him and when they had questions he would just tell them how they should believe but didn’t give them the space to discover why.

Friends, these are the people God has called you and I to welcome with radical hospitality, to wash their feet, to honour.  The alien, the stranger, the left-out-of-the-secret handshake folk.  We should be places of refuge, of shalom where folk are welcomed because they are there.  Not because of how they look, or believe or even don’t believe, but because they are seeking to see Jesus revealed around them in ways that are demonstrated by welcome, by grace, by mercy, by healing and by acceptance.

The hospitality Jesus demonstrated was pre-dominantly other focused.  Is ours?

 

Canada Day Update

by Cailey Morgan

I just have to briefly share about Canada Day at our house.

Last year, my husband, his aunt, and I bought a home together, in hopes of having a place for the neighbourhood to gather and cross-pollinate with those from our church. You may remember our sadness in not being able to host community events last summer because of our endless renovations, and our first chance to really meet some folks coming at Halloween when we put on hot chocolate and 180 people showed up in our carport for treats. Halloween was fun, and a good first “Hello,” but we really didn’t get a chance to talk to people because there were just so many of us!

So we decided this year to throw a Canada Day Neighbourhood BBQ. I’m excited to share this with you because we were incredibly nervous about what would happen, but once again when we stepped out in obedience, God showed up!

IMG_1588

A couple of weeks ago we printed flyers about the shindig and put them in the mailboxes of our 24 nearest neighbours. We also sent out an email to our church friends and coworkers. When Canada Day arrived, so did our neighbours and friends! Over the course of the day we had over 75 people through–15 of whom we’d never met before. Here are a few pics: The YardFullSizeRenderIMG_1580 If meeting new people is hard for you, like it is for me, try these tricks I learned.

  • Pray a lot. Eventually you’ll be convinced that God actually is in control.
  • Deliver flyers. That way, you can be confident that the people who arrive in your yard are genuinely interested in talking to you! and it’s much less scary than knocking on doors.
  • Gather backup. Invite some friends to come early to help set up. And, if you’re terrible at small talk, like I am, invite your life-of-the-party friends to help host the thing.
  • Find the givers and let them help. I have one neighbour who dropped off a bunch of patio chairs and brought over a gallon of homemade pasta salad! When I walked over to return her chairs and dishes, she showed me her garden, and now she’s going to come help me with mine.

Building new relationships doesn’t have to be hard. Just make sure to have fun and listen, and the friendships will grow out of that. I’d love to hear how others spent their Canada Day. Email me at cmorgan@cbwc.ca or leave a comment here on this blog.

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 tlavigne@cbwc.ca.

GospelFest

2012 GospelFest Concert

2012 GospelFest Concert

This August, Kelly Maurice and her team from Première Église Évangélique d’Expression Française de Calgary (PEEEFC) and other Calgary churches will be hosting the second annual GospelFest, with a vision to celebrate God through the arts and serve the community by bringing awareness and raising funds for charitable organizations.

Gospelfest is an outdoor Christian festival in Calgary that aims to bring God’s people together without barriers. Poetry and music from around the world spreads hope throughout the park, and funds are raised for ministries doing important work.

The very first Gospelfest concert took place August 25, 2012, and was a great success. The event had various bands playing music from gospel to contemporary Christian, and even in different languages. Over 250 people from various communities around Calgary gathered at Stanley Park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to sing praise and listen to outstanding Christian music. The event was partnered with Samaritan’s Purse, who raised $4,000 for refugee camps in South Sudan.

This year, GospelFest will be taking place at the bowl in Prairie Winds Park (223 Castleridge Blvd, NE, Calgary AB) from 4 to 7pm on August 24. Kelly is hoping for more guests, and therefore needs more volunteers. There are several ways you and your church can participate in GospelFest, whether or not you are located in Calgary:

1. Pray. When the Gospel is shared, there’s bound to be backlash, but we know that the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s hearts. Pray for the details of the day like safety and good weather, but especially that people would come and would be touched by God’s good news.

2. Volunteer. Kelly and her crew will need volunteers for the day, especially for security, First Aid, and lost and found. Volunteers will be needed from as early as 10am until as late as 10pm. Contact Kelly if you can help or to organize sending a team from your church to Calgary for the weekend.

3. Donate. Any church or individual interested in sponsoring PEEEFC for the event can get in touch with Kelly to go over the brief GospelFest sponsorship presentation.

Kelly can be reached at kmaurministries@hotmail.ca or 403-903-2774.

Rural Church Planting

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne
mark-farmer
In the mid 1990s my wife and I sensed God moving us from a secure associate pastor position in a growing church in Fort St. John, British Columbia, to the smaller neighbouring community of Taylor. We were privileged to be a part of a team that established what is now known as Peace Community Church.

Church planting in what’s known by some as rural areas comes with lots of blessings, but along with the blessings come some unique challenges. Overall the experiences were undoubtedly some of the best times of our lives. Connecting with neighbours during Gold Panning Days, throwing huge Christmas parties, caroling in -30 Celsius, and partnering with local government were among some of the creative—some might say naïve—ideas that came with a sense of faith that nothing was impossible with God.

We tried all kinds of outreach ideas celebrating our life in Christ and exploring ways of connecting people with God. And, you know, some of them even worked! We’ve established lifelong friendships, seen God work in miraculous ways and enjoyed seeing God develop something from the ground up.

In this interesting article, “Church Planting in the Small Community,” Steve Larson, Dennis Dickson, Chris Gray and Darren Widner explore some to the joys and trials of pioneering new churches. They share some of the practical concerns around buildings and explore various ways they endeavoured to share the Gospel in rural areas. Check it out and let me know what you think or share your own stories of rural life in ministry!

Declan Flanagan shares some great thoughts in “Faith in the countryside.” Here’s an interesting UK perspective on Church Planting: www.ruralministries.org.uk

The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC) Church Planting ministry is excited about potential new churches in the rural areas of southern Manitoba and central Alberta. We sense God moving in these regions, wanting us to partner in establishing new works. For information about CBWC Church Planting contact myself or Cailey Morgan. Check out our blog for stories of what’s happening across the West!

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

Connected

A couple of months ago, we published the following article by Joelle Reiniger in our GO WEST! enewsletter. Joelle’s story has been such an encouragement that we’ve decided to post it again here. Now that the weather has improved and there are only a few weeks left of school for the kids, consider how your family can step out and connect with the people in your neighbourhood over the next weeks.

Last year our building fire alarm rang. Guessing correctly that it had simply malfunctioned, my husband Jordan and I reluctantly left our suite to join the group of groggy residents who formed a ring around our highrise apartment complex.Edmonton apartment building

We looked around at a community of strangers, who would likely never have been seen in one place without a fire truck on the way. This scenario could not be more different from the vision of community described by our co-pastor Karen Wilk, always urging us to live out the Biblical mandate to “love your neighbour as yourself.” Our neighbourhood is and likely always will be urban. Jordan and I love our proximity to arts venues, public transit connections and North America’s largest stretch of urban parkland, the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

As a former city hall reporter I have a longstanding interest in civic strategies to develop a sense of community in the city’s core, a passion Jordan shares. He works in the non-profit sector and is continually faced with Edmonton’s social problems including homelessness and the plight of the working poor. Through these experiences, we have come to believe that social isolation is the root of most of our city’s problems.

In North America, we are all too familiar with how difficult it is to combat isolation and loneliness amidst the busyness of our culture. There are limitations in time, but also limitations in space. From the car, to the cubicle to the coffee shop, our social spaces are ideal for filtering out unwanted human encounters, even in public places. This freedom to choose whom to interact with seems especially present downtown. There are 18 stories in our building. Most of the people who we share an elevator ride with, we never see again.

At first, this we didn’t view this as a problem. When we moved into our building, we had as many relationships and commitments as we felt we could manage. Yet, we found Pastor Karen’s teaching about “being” the church in our geographical neighbourhood compelling.

We caught the vision of taking literally the command to love our neighbour and to do so in a diverse community, not bound together by common interests, social class or consumer preferences but by the mere fact that we are people created by God for Him and for each other. Under Karen’s leadership, we began meeting regularly with other members of our church who wanted to participate in the work of God in their neighbourhoods.

Conversations often turned to the practice of hospitality, but as the rest of the group told stories about barbecues, potlucks and block parties, we doubted our built environment was conducive forming these human connections. In a downtown apartment, there is a stark division between public and private space. Other than our laundry, hot tub and fitness rooms, there are no public spaces for friendships to germinate.

With some trepidation, we hosted a Floor 5 Christmas party, just to see what would happen—to see if anybody would show up, if anyone else wanted to put a face to a laundry basket. A few did, and we had a great time, sipping spiked eggnog and swapping funny stories.

One thing led to another and, less than a year later, our neighbours are among the first people we think of when we plan to go out with friends or to invite someone over for drinks or dinner. With some, spiritual connections underpin our social ties. Our next door neighbour, also a Christian, has joined our Bible study. Another spiritually-minded man in our building has suggested forming an organized network to respond to the needs of neighbours as we learn of them.

In retrospect, it feels as though this process happened overnight, but our connection to the community got off to a slow start. We spent the first few months somewhat passively listening to Pastor Karen outline principles of the incarnational church. We spent a lot of time talking about how we hypothetically might connect with our urban neighbourhood.

Then we procrastinated, theorized and talked some more.

The turning point in our journey came a month or two after our Christmas party. We had connected with a handful of neighbours and could actually envision a thriving community in our Soviet-style apartment block. We also realized we could not participate in a Kingdom-centered vision for our community with only one foot in our neighbourhood. Relationships take time and meaningful community involvement was incompatible with our busy lifestyle.

Ironically, we found the time and space, in part, by limiting the scope of our formal church involvement. Our focus shifted away from viewing church as a spiritual fuelling station and as our default social network. We traded this paradigm for a vision of “being” the church in a more organic way in our community.

Increasingly, we came to view our Bible study group as our home church. We started taking communion together, devoting larger segments of our time to prayer, eating meals together and taking responsibility for each other’s welfare. This sense of connectedness naturally fuelled our desire to foster a Biblical model of community in our neighbourhood.

Last month our building fire alarm rang again. I walked around the base of the building looking for Greg, Krista, Dave, Teea, Devin, Jess, Josh, Hélène, Grant, or someone else to chat with while waiting to return to our apartment. When the bell rang, I felt safe. The Cold-War era concrete seemed indestructible, insulating us from the vulnerabilities of newer buildings.

I also felt secure because, this year, Jordan and I have neighbours who know our names and unit number—people who look out for us as we look out for them.

We are insulated, but we are by no means isolated.

This article from From GO WEST! 2.7 courtesy of Forge Canada‘s Missional Voice newsletter.