Rebooting What Matters

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(A reflection in response to Shannon Youell’s “How then, Shall We Meet?”) 

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

 Prior to COVID-19, I was WAY off in my ministry approach and priorities.  A friend from several years of summer camp moved his family down to Lethbridge for a 3-month contract job.  In years previous we had very important conversations about life and faith.  This is a good and dynamic relationship, one that continues to grow.   In the three months this important friend was in town, how much do you think we saw each other?    

 ONCE!  And that was to help him move in!  There’s something wrong with my lifestyle, including both busy-ness and work, when there is no space on the schedule for a friend like this.   

 I am busy with community stuff outside of church (a flag football team, school council, and other community connections), and parenting takes its share of work, but the fact that I took zero time to nurture this relationship with a friend is significant!   Much of my busy-ness was church stuff, which doesn’t always have the community building and connecting benefit that it should.    

 See if you relate to this pattern in ministry: 

  •  Step 1 – “I need to help our families with parenting resources.” 
  • Step 2 – “I will prepare an event for families and spend hours and hours investing in it.” 
  • Step 3 – “I need to convince families at my church to attend or I will have wasted my time.” 
  • Step 4 – Advertise and convince families to attend, and be a little sad more didn’t show up. 
  • Step 5 – Begin planning the next event – fingers crossed that more show up next time! 

 There is a LOT of time expended coming up with programs that I think are important, and just as much time convincing people to attend them.  The time spent on programming may have been better spent personally with those attending families AS WELL AS other ones! 

Walk With Me

 I’m trying to shift away from “attend my event” to “walk with me” approach.  That seems to be healthier for everyone and puts less pressure on everyone.  It allows for real community to grow. 

 COVID was bad.  Awful.  But few things have given us permission to shut things down and re-evaluate life patterns as much COVID has.  I have written down “In what ways do we meet again?” on my office white board as a reminder of how we best move forward as a community of believers.    As I reboot, I’m returning to a familiar and favourite verse: “let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).  

Live at NMO

By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan

We blog live from New Ministers Orientation 2019 at Carey Theological College where we are gathered as CBWC staff, 5 planting pastors, 12 lead/senior pastors, 3 associate pastors, 3 children/youth/young adult pastors, 2 discipleship/congregation care pastors and 1 chaplain!   Together we are discovering the shared work we do as a family of churches who are interconnected in ministry, and the impact we are able to collectively have both within our particular congregations and beyond into our neighbourhoods.

The question the church planting team is asking is:  Why do we plant churches? Why do we multiply? Why do we care whether there is an expression of God’s Kingdom in our neighbourhood?  This is what we have been exploring with ministers and church planters from across Western Canada this week. 

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Church Planting Director Shannon Youell with Arash Azad, Jessica Lee, Allan Santos, Mouner Alajji and Tim Ngai.

For  us, the why we do things isn’t to make more churches – that is the result of our why. Start With the Why author Simon Sinek reminds us that understanding our why is crucial before we adopt a how. When we fully understand our why, we can then rethink, reframe and reimagine our hows to get our what, which is new and renewed expressions of gathered and scattered communities of faithful presence in the places we live, work, play and pray in, where we relationally disciple the people we live among.

Church planters Allan Santos (GCF Calgary planting GCF Red Deer), Mouner Alajji (Hope Christian Church of Calgary), Arash Azad (Emmanuel Iranian Church North Vancouver) and Jessica Lee and Tim Ngai (Makarios Evangelical Church, New Westminster) shared with us their unique expressions of bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God into their particular contexts. Each emphasized their intentionality in training, equipping and forming missional disciples who serve and reproduce themselves.  

Their stories, their hearts and their passion encouraged our hearts. We, too, as members of the CBWC family these new works have asked to join, can bless and encourage their hearts, as each one of us and our churches join God at work in the harvest field by enabling these leaders to do the work they do. This requires us sharing in both the cost and the joy of the new churches.  They should not, and can not, labour on their own.  Just as the first churches sowed into the support and ministry of the newer churches, so must we.  

If we all generously participate the burden is eased and the load is light.  

New churches are the result of our engaging the world God so loves and being faithfully present with people for the purpose of building deep-rooted relationships that morph into discipling of those we are engaged with and who see, in our friendship and care for them, an image of God’s kingdom plan of reconciliation: humans to God, humans to one another and to all created things.

CBWC is equally as passionate about seeing fresh expressions of God-With-Us within our existing congregations too.  Discipleship is a pathway of engaging Christ and Community that is life-long and a response to obedience to the mission Christ commissioned each and every one of us to.  Though discipleship includes learning and studying the Scriptures, it is much more about growing in and investing in relationships with those who both know Christ and those who do not yet know Christ.  

As we invest in the lives of others in deep and caring relationships, journeying with others, sowing into their lives the beauty and goodness of God-With-Humans, Us, Christ will be revealed and lives will be shaped and transformed .  

At NMO this week, we have seen and heard the testimonies of disciple-makers in new churches and long established churches,  that investing in relationships, cultivating leaders to engage in mission naturally begins to bear fruit that reproduces.

“The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you” (Exodus 34:10). 

Oh, and the answer, given by one of our pastors, about why we care whether there is an expression of God’s kingdom in our neighbourhood is this: God’s shalom is for all people.

Pics from Banff

by Cailey Morgan

Now that the news is out that the wonderful Joell Haugan will be joining our Church Planting team as the Heartland Director, I can finally share some pictures from our time in Banff at the Pastors and Spouses Conference!

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Quite a view!

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Awesome Bible Studies with Loralyn Lind.

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Jason and Katie leading us in worship.

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Dreaming about Church Planting.

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Dreaming about Church Planting.

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Dreaming about Church Planting.

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The whole team together for the first time! Me, Ron Orr, Joell Haugan and Shannon Youell.

It was really great to be together and to look toward what God might be up to in our provinces and territories.

As of today, the teachings from Banff were not up on the Audio Blog page yet, but I encourage you to keep checking back there, as the Bible Studies and teaching times were very engaging, encouraging and convicting.

Bivocational Ministry?

Bivocational ministry, or the idea that pastors work part time at the church and part time elsewhere, is entering Canadian church budgeting conversations more frequently due to the decline of church membership and the resistance of Christians to traditional ideas of tithe.  hard-hat

But is a money crunch the best reason we can offer for bivocationalism? Perhaps if we consider a positive point of view, we could see bivocational ministry as a Bible-based opportunity rather than a financial obligation.

There’s no denying that working two jobs is hard. Pastors who choose to devote only part of their workweek to a church while also concentrating on a position in the marketplace or elsewhere in ministry have their work cut out for them. All pastors, whether full or part time, run the risk of loneliness and burnout unless proper boundaries and clear expectations are set from the beginning. So why would anyone choose the additional burden of a second job when the first job is so demanding?

Andy Lambkin, a pastor and researcher with the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, suggests several reasons why every pastor should consider taking a second job:

1. Bivocational ministry shrinks the clergy-lay divide.
Peter called the Church “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9), but we undermine that principle by idolizing our pastors and church planters and expecting them to do all the work. When pastors become bivocational, the differences between their lives and the lives of their congregants—as people working and serving the Lord in all they do—start to disappear. And that’s a good thing.

Also, the fewer hours the pastor works, the more room there is for the laity to step up into leadership. Andy himself started as a full time pastor but has been slowly scaling his hours back to allow his team of leaders space to develop in ministry prowess.

2. The bivocational approach in church planting is an opportunity to inspire the millennial generations to leadership.
A model that allows pastors to pursue the development of a new church as part of a team, while also staying connected in their professional fields, will appeal to a demographic of apostolic, entrepreneurial young people that are often turned off by traditional methods of pastoral ministry.

3. The bivocational method of hiring staff opens up new avenues of ministry. Whereas in a traditional model we often forfeit groups that are unable to support a full time worker, bivocational ministry opens these doors as other streams of revenue are used the support the worker.

4. Having another job gives pastors credibility and influence in a broader circle.
It’s true: many pastors are disconnected from the world around them and frankly have very few interactions with people outside the Church. It’s life-giving for both the congregation and the pastoral staff when ministers can give examples from their own lives of

5. This isn’t a new idea.
The Biblical precedent for workers in God’s Church is one of bivocationalism. Paul was a tentmaker on-and-off throughout his church planting days, and actually went into business with the husband-wife pastoral team of Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth (1 Corinthians 18:1-3).

And even in our own country, I imagine that all pastors by necessity were farmers, cowboys, doctors and teachers as they settled the wild West.

Bivocational ministry doesn’t mean shoving a pastor’s job into half the hours. It goes back to realistic expectations and clear role descriptions. So commissioning a bivocational pastoral team rather than a solo pastor is likely the most effective way of keeping pastors connected to a daily mission field and encouraged in their church ministry.

Bivocationalism can be for a number of reasons and will look different for everyone. In my own church, we have a large pastoral team, but each of the pastors also holds a job elsewhere–some at a training network developed by our church several years ago, some in the secular marketplace, and one is even employed by the music school he began as a ministry to his neighbours.

Do you have examples of bivocational ministry? What could it look like in your context? What are other reasons to give this model a try, and what are some of the potential pitfalls? Leave a comment here, or email me anytime: cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

Bivocationally yours,

Cailey Morgan

Pray with Us

Join CBWC Church Planting as we pray for all those participating in the New Pastor’s Orientation in Vancouver, BC, February 24-27.

Pray as well for Pastor Janet McBeth and Emmaus Community Fellowship in Burnaby, BC, as they make preparations to begin Sunday services on March 3rd.

View all our prayer requests on our Prayer Page, or send Cailey your prayer request