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?

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Bah Humbug!

By Shannon Youell

A few weeks ago Oxford, the dictionary people, announced their word of the year: Post-truth. They define it as follows:

“an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’

Rather than simply referring to the time after a specified situation or event – as in post-war or post-match – the prefix  in post-truth has a meaning more like ‘belonging to a time in which the specified concept has become unimportant or irrelevant.’”

There we go folks…apparently it’s official! We live in an age where we are being convinced that truth has become unimportant and irrelevant. To which I again express, Humbug! (which is a real word describing ways to fool people).

Before we all nod our heads in agreement with an intensity that could cause us whiplash, we should recognize that we all fall victim to truth as subjective to our own emotions and personal beliefs. For the purposes of this blog, I refer to the way we sort how we live out life as followers of Jesus. We tend to pick and choose. Seriously…we do. We live life at the smorgasbord of Jesus and choose what we like and leave behind what we don’t, are unsure of, or just plain uncomfortable with.

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Take evangelism for instance. We are great at self-exempting ourselves from this. Frankly we are quite afraid of that word, as we’ve discussed before on this blog. For many, if not most of us, we self-exempt because we see sharing Jesus as something someone else does, yet Jesus invites us to a ‘come and see’, ‘go and tell’ way of life…..as we go in our ordinary lives. You might right now be thinking, yes but there is that passage about evangelism being an appointed gift. Go ahead. I will challenge you on that passage though. Go back and read it again and see if it is actually an exemption passage.

Reimagining Evangelism
At the Banff Pastor’s Conference this year, we had a round table discussion around reimagining evangelism where we asked ourselves the questions: Is evangelism a mission impossible? Can we re-engage in it as believers and followers of Jesus?

In light of living in an age of post-truth, can we become truth-tellers? Do we dare? Or are we so paralyzed that truth telling will bring us scorn and rejection, we prefer to stay silent in the midst of humbug?

Our society can try to convince us all we want that truth is unimportant but the massive publishing dollars procured from ‘meaning of life’ books reveals the real truth about that. Humans are seekers of truth. And in agreement with the definition, we do often find truth through emotion and personal belief. So though our culture can shout ‘post-truth’, it is in how truth-telling is defined that gives us an entry point to share this Jesus, whose birth we are celebrating this month.

When I look at how Jesus went and truth-told he did so with fact (today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing; the kingdom of God is among you; I will be with you always; Go in peace and be freed from your suffering). God has fulfilled his promise to Israel, King Jesus is come to establish ‘on earth as it is in heaven’, the kingdom of God where what is wrong is made right again. These were the some of the objective facts he presented.

As well, Jesus also told the truth through people’s emotions and personal beliefs. He gospeled people where they were. To those struggling with guilt he offered forgiveness. To those marginalized, he placed them in the front of the line and in places of honor. To those sick he offered compassion and healing. To those who were deemed less valued, he publicly spoke to, recognized and preferred.  To those lost in their own personal confusion, he brought clarity. He truth-told into each one’s story at the place of entry that would speak the strongest to them.

This was the Jesus way of evangelism. He really didn’t give a four step formula to how to be saved, but rather stepped into the places of people’s story where they were at and revealed God already at work in the midst of their story. Evangelism is really just that.

Exposing Our Humbug Rhetoric
So can we expose the humbug rhetoric of our world that tries to fool us into even questioning our own truth? Can we merely take the time to be truth-tellers of this great celebration? Can we begin to discard the foolish deception that we “belong(ing) to a time in which the specified concept (of objective truth) has become unimportant or irrelevant”?

This is the beginning of re-imagining and re-engaging with the Story we objectively lean into as our personal truth and it is that we share, with all our deep convictions and emotions that Jesus is King in my life and the world as our Prince of Peace, bringing the deep shalom of God into all the places we live, work, play and pray in.

Great peace and joy to all.

 

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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 syouell@cbwc.ca 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 bcyarea@cbwc.ca 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
syouell@cbwc.ca
churchplantingatcbwc.wordpress.com

What ARE we Planting Part IV: In A Neighbourhood

By Shannon Youell

Church planting is developing an expression of God’s kingdom in a neighbourhood.

In the beautiful and familiar passage of John chapter one sits one of my favorite verses: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

Eugene Peterson translates it in The Message this way, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood” (John 1:14).

CC Lauren Wellicome

God, in Jesus, moved into the neighbourhood!  He went to the local school, shopped at the nearby shops, visited over the fence with his immediate neighbours, went to barn dances at the local community center, memorized the Torah at the local synagogue. He lived there, right there, God with skin on, where humanity, created in His image, lived. And He lives in my neighbourhood, in your neighbourhood. He dwells among the world He so loves and His presence invites all to participate with Him in the ministry of reconciliation.

I love this image as it helps me understand and re-see that God is already at work in the places around me. What does that mean for us as we wrestle with God and imagine with Him where he is already at work in our neighbourhoods? And where, exactly, is the neighbourhood where we are to develop this expression of God’s kingdom? Is it the neighbourhood where the building is that we gather for worship? Or the one in which we live? Or work? Or where the jogging trail, the coffee shop, the grocery store that we frequent during the week are?

Perhaps, the answer is the same answer Jesus gave when the Pharisee asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus’ short answer: the people right in front of you! Right where you have been placed. Right where you are. This is where each of us, as image-bearers of Christ, are compelled by love of neighbour to develop an expression of God’s kingdom.

We form relationships with those around us, in communities whose health and well-being affect our own health and well-being, because, as we are reminded in Jeremiah, we are not set in a place to endure until heaven, but to “seek the peace of prosperity [of the place I’ve put you]. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (29:7).

Eugene Peterson takes us on a journey of “a conversation in spiritual theology”—the subtitle of his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. The book is an amazing read, but I want to focus our attention on his observations about place in his chapter titled “Christ Plays in Creation.” He talks about how God created place for humans and it is local. It is wherever we are. And it’s not perfect; there’s a serpent slithering around. Peterson writes this:

This place, this garden, is not utopia, is not an ideal no-place.  It is simply place, locale, geography, geology.  But it is also a good place, Eden, because it provides the form by which we can live to the glory of God (page 74).  

And a few pages later he acknowledges, “Getting to know the neighbourhood, the nature and conditions of the neighbourhood, is fundamental to living to the glory of God.  It is slow and complex work” (page 78).

Pepe Pont CC BY-ND 2.0

I wonder that much of our wrestling to define neighbour and neighbourhood has to do with what we need to come to terms with.  Developing places where the glory of God is seen does take some slow, often tedious, and complex work.  It requires commitment and shared heart with God about who he loves. t demands dying to what Peterson calls “self-enclosed” lives—to opening ourselves up to an adventure of learning who is around us, and where the gospel story intersects in their own stories.  It means putting aside what we think is needed and discover together, in a neighbourhood, what is needed to usher in God’s shalom that brings healing, hope and goodness to that place.

In urban planning and developing we are seeing an intentionality in reclaiming community. In reconnecting neighbourhoods to shopping and recreation and community issues. As Christ Followers, we should be doing the same—looking neighbourhoods as places we already live, work, play and pray in. But just like in urban planning, we must be intentional. We must make an effort and take a step out of our comfort zone.

Is there a local community issue? Attend the meetings, research all sides, get to know all people involved.

Help out cleaning up the parks; participating, not just attending, local community celebrations; read to kids at schools; do a bakery or grocery pick up run for your local food bank once a week.

Make an effort: engage, encourage. Be intentional. Get to know the people around you. Start walking your neighbourhood, your local community. Chances are you might run into God taking a leisurely walk down the same streets as you.

I could share with you some stories of those who have committed themselves to this type of intentionality in their place of context, but how about you tell some of yours with all of us.

Send us a story over the next few weeks to encourage, inspire and equip us to join God where He lives…in our neighbourhoods!

Shannon Youell
CBWC Church Planting Coordinator
syouell@cbwc.ca

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
syouell@cbwc.ca
CBWC Church Planting

Build Your Kingdom Here

About a year and half ago, a friend sent me a YouTube clip to watch. I must have listened to it five times that first viewing! Why? Because the lyrics of the song so resonated with the message I had been speaking out wherever I had the opportunity. It expressed so vividly for me the cry for the Kingdom that Jesus expresses so often in His preaching and teaching.

 

Look at this line in verse three:

You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
We are your church, we are the hope on earth.

I wonder if we’ve lost that: that as followers of Christ who dwells in us, we are the hope on earth, we are the Church. Now before you throw garlic at me, hear this out.

We are created in the image of God. Jesus, in His earthly journey, was God with skin on. He sent out His followers, His disciples to do what he was doing, teach what He was teaching, love who He was loving. He was and is hope on earth. He instilled that hope deep into the hearts of those who heard and responded to the call. And as Christ’s image-bearers, they took that hope wherever they went.

It spread the kingdom. It infiltrated the darkness.

It changed how people thought (repentance means to re-think and walk a different way) and viewed creation and created. So those first gospelers personified the hope living within them to those they lived, worked, played and prayed with.

This week in Victoria our CityReach Team (a city wide church collaboration) is hosting Ed Silvoso who will be speaking on transformation. We’ve had similar conferences here before which were very good and very inspiring and lots of Christians became fired up.

And then they went home and waited.

For what? For ‘it’ to happen. Can you imagine if those first gospelers did the same thing? Went home and just waited for it to happen. Instead they gathered together and prayed and when the Holy Spirit empowered them they went as sent ones out into the spaces and places they frequented and the lands that were foreign and brought the Hope of Glory into the known world, often one person, one relationship at a time, transforming lives and thinking and hearts and actions.

Friends, we are God’s Church, His people, and we are the hope on earth that your co-worker, your next door neighbour, your soccer buddy is hoping to discover, because that hope lives within us.

Verse two plays like this:

We seek your kingdom first, we hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives, for You’re our joy and prize
To see the captive’s hearts released, the hurt, the sick, the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for heaven’s cause
We are Your church, we pray revive this earth.

If we want to be church implanters (a term I’m currently using to express what we traditionally call planting) who have impact in the communities we are implanted in, we need to seek; we need to lay down our lives. Honestly, I don’t think any gaming experience or movie can replace the joy of seeing lives impacted and set free by the Hope of Glory that lives in you and lives in me.

Have a listen and let me know what you think!

Spurring one another on,
Shannon Youell
CP Co-ordinator/Director

Neighbourhood Front Porch

This past summer my husband and I intentionally decided it was time to meet our neighbours and get to know them. We have lived in our neighbourhood for 20 years and every year I have wanted to throw some kind of summer party and invite the people who live around us.

We live on mountain acreages and for the most part we can’t actually see our neighbours and even after 20 years here, have no idea what some of them even look like!4038233322_68f53080e4_z

So I came up with Neighbourhood Front Porch, made up invitations and put them in the mailboxes on a stretch of our road. My husband got the yard ready, likely wondering what I’ve gotten us into! The premise was that in days gone by, neighbours would gather to enjoy the summer evening by sitting on one another’s front porches, sharing cool drinks. That had become a lost art form in our remote control garage door, multiple activity, internet community society. To my utter amazement, people came! We talked, played yard games, ate, drank and enjoyed learning about one another.

And we did it all summer long! Thus the beginnings of community, though embryonic, has come to life.

It is my hope, that this blog will become a type of Front Porch for all who are curious and/or committed about being the presence of Christ in the places and spaces where we all live, work, play and pray. That we learn together what it means as followers to be incarnational and missional in our unique contexts and communities and how Christ Communities can grow organically out of our shared spaces in everyday, ordinary life.

This space is for conversation and dialogue. For story-sharing, idea sharing and exploring-
sharing. For wrestling. For encouragement. For praying for one another. And for sipping lemonade!

Come join us on this journey to watch the presence of Christ among us deliver God’s peace, joy, love, healing, hope and salvation in us and through us.

Here’s a question to perhaps get us started: What would it take to reach into your neighbourhood/community context for Christ?

I look forward to hanging out here with you. Pax!

Shannon

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!

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 (syouell@cbwc.ca) and introduce yourself!

Cailey