As of October 31, Tom Lavigne completed his time as the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Director of Church Planting. Read the interview below to find out what he has been learning in the transition process.Tom-Lavigne

We’ll be taking a break from GO WEST! as we revision and work through various changes taking place in the ministry. However, we have other methods of keeping you up-to-date on our church plants and the ministry itself. Read the “Staying Connected” article for tips on keeping in touch with us throughout the adjustments.

Stay Connected

In this time of transition, we’ll be working out a number of changes in the Church Planting office in order to best serve the CBWC constituency. Therefore, this will be the last issue of GO WEST! for the time being, but there are plenty of other ways to stay connected.

  • We will continue to share stories and prayer requests on the Church Planting Blog: Subscribe to the feed by clicking here, or visit the blog and click the “Follow” button on the bottom of your browser window. By entering your email address, you’ll have all the Church Planting new sent right to your inbox.
  • All our blog entries are also posted on the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Facebook page for easy access.
  • We’ll continue to share stories as well through the CBWC’s wider monthly enewsletter Making Connections. Subscribe today.

And, Cailey will still be available to connect via email:, or at 604.420.7646. Thanks for being willing to stick with us amidst the adjustments!

Final Thoughts from Tom

GO WEST!: At the last leadership forum in Vancouver, we discussed how ministry brings with it all kinds of transitions. As you are in a transitional phase yourself, what advice can you offer others in a similar circumstance?

Tom: The initial thoughts are that we should be expecting transition to be an ongoing part of ministry. While some people hope that change never happens—it seems to be an inevitable part of ministry. Any advice I would give would be along the lines of staying especially close and sensitive to how God is leading, have lots of healthy communication with family, close friends and mentors. Also, the realization that while change or transition catches some of us by surprise; God is not sitting on the sidelines in a state of shock, so we can trust that He is very involved in the process, loves us deeply and has the best in store for us.

GW: What have you learned about yourself in the process?

Tom: I’m learning to be less fearful of what others think and more concerned with being obedient to God. It’s most important to please God in His process and timing than others and myself in our own plans and agendas.

GW: What are some of your fondest memories of your time as Director of Church Planting?

Wow, so many amazing things have happened over the past four years.

  • I’m very appreciative for the opportunity given me by Jeremy Bell, Jan Paasuke and the Staff and Board to come into the role with a lot of freedom and resources to help shape the Church Planting ministry in the CBWC.
  • Being a part of the stories of the lives of our Church Planters, their families and teams as they struggle, pray and wrestle through what it means to be a church family has been a huge blessing.
  • Parties at launches of new churches, baptisms of new believers, and seeing the “aha” moments in the faces of Church Planters when they realize that yes, God is indeed in this ministry.
  • Getting to work alongside a passionate staff team who do so much more than they ever get paid for and yet deliver amazing results time after time.

GW: Tell us something we didn’t know about you.

Tom: I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s clothing…but don’t tell anyone.

GW: What excites you as you look ahead? Any plans? Any ideas about where God might want you next?

What excites me looking ahead are the incredible opportunities that God has in store for each of us—as I look around I see God at work in so many people and places and I’m amazed at His goodness in allowing us to be a part of His great story. The only plans I have are to take a bit of time off (November/December) visiting with family and friends and taking some personal retreat and reflection time. I’m not sure where God would have us next—if you hear anything please let me know!

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

Rural Church Planting

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne
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:

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!


Check out this video on discipleship:

We’d love to hear from you. Your thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated, so leave a comment here, or email me:

Until next time… Tom Lavigne, @tomlavigne1 (Twitter) CBWC Director of Church Planting

Dollars and Sense

This article was originally published in GO WEST! 2.9

I love all things Church Planting: praying, connecting, researching…I don’t even mind setting up, renting space in strange places or trying to raise funds to invest in the things God is doing.

However, when I look at the financial side of Church Planting these days I can get overwhelmed by all the ideas and resources out there, and it reminds me of an old Far Side cartoon.


Oh, how I miss Gary Larson, the legendary cartoonist who created The Far Side, a single-panel cartoon series that was syndicated internationally to over 900 newspapers for 15 years. The series ended with Larson’s retirement on January 1, 1995. His 23 books of collected cartoons have combined sales of more than 45 million copies. Gary had an incredible gift of making us laugh at some of the life’s great challenges.

Fundraising can strike fear into the heart of Church Planters. Some are good at it, some are not, many more are just left scratching their heads in frustration. There are all kinds of great resources out there–where do you begin to look? Here’s a resource worth checking out: Outreach Magazine’s page of ideas on marketing from some current planters including Paul Andrew, Damian Boyd, Aaron Graham and others.

At the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada we are committed to basic levels of funding for our Church Planters. As well, we offer Venture Partnerships with existing churches–thank you Westview Baptist, Bethel Baptist Sechelt, and others considering Venture. We’re also learning what Church Planting Co-operatives might look like and are excited about the possibilities of working collaboratively to start new churches (watch for a future article)…

We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, successes and failures at financing and fundraising. It’s how we learn best.

Trusting and praying that Jehovah Jireh, the God whose provision is seen will bless you abundantly as we serve in the kingdom…until next time, “May I be excused? My brain is full.”

Tom Lavigne,
Director of Church Planting – Canadian Baptists of Western Canada

Like what you read?

If you’ve been as challenged and encouraged as we have by our recent series of articles from Timothy Keller, you may want to check out some of the other resources he has available.

Here’s a link to a list of Tim Keller’s book titles, or you can click here to find his blog.

As Keller’s article series wraps up, let us know what you think. Are these types of articles helpful? What topics do you think GO WEST! should tackle? Email Cailey at with your feedback, or share on our blog.

Thanks for reading!

~Tom and Cailey

St. Patrick’s Day – The Hangover

Well another year and another St. Patrick’s Day is come and gone. You see the half price sales tags on everything green, the “Local” is cleaning up and getting ready for the next gala, and the leprechaun who didn’t see his shadow is heading back into his hole.

shamrockOn St. Patrick’s Day most people claim an “Irish” link, and I’m no exception. My great-grandmother was a potato famine refugee who arrived in Canada during a horrific period of adversity in Ireland. She left home and history for the hope of something new on the Canadian frontier.

Living in the hinterland of the Roman Empire, Patrick (sainted after his death—apparently there are no living saints) knew a life of adversity, of slavery—and the life of the refugee. Patrick lived as the prodigal as well as one who met God and experienced the spiritual zeal and life that comes through service to God.

David Mathis, in a terrific article entitled “The Mission of St. Patrick” shares about the Gospel to the Irish and the amazing ways God worked in the life of a ragamuffin who would become a saint.

I’m honored to work with many modern-day saints (they’re still alive, so we call them “Church Planters”) who live and love and labour among us to reach our nation of people with a life transforming message of hope.

Let me know at what you think of David’s article.

Top o’ the morning to ya!

Tom Lavigne, Director of Church Planting, Canadian Baptists of Western Canada

Don’t Drop the Baton!

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of being a part of several church plants and ministry launches. Anticipation, excitement and expectations abound. The beginning of a great race begins.

Over the last while I’ve also witnessed first-hand the closing of some once glorious churches that have enjoyed tremendous seasons of ministry but have since failed and ceased to exist. Discouragement, desperation and frustration set in as they shut the doors. The race is over.

What is it that allows great churches to sustain the challenges of longevity, sustainability and relativity? Like many others I suggest continual leadership is the critical component. “Continual leadership” to me refers to the quality of leadership in time of transitions–pastoral comings and goings as well as other key leadership changeovers.

Continual leadership upholds the vision, values and mission of the church in those seasons of change. Continual leadership happens when the “baton of leadership” is handed off in the “race” of ministry life in the church. Leadership in ministry is often compared to a relay race run by a team of pastors and ministry leaders. The first runner carries a baton. After running a specified distance, the runner hands the baton to the next team member.

The exchange–ministry succession–must occur within a zone a few meters long. Timing is crucial , just as every ministry has a season. If the rgenerationsunners do not exchange the baton within this zone, the team is disqualified (which, in church leadership terms is burnout, heartache, and loss). The length of the race varies and in some relays each team member runs an equal distance, but in others they run different distances.

The relay race is not necessarily won by the team that runs the fastest, but by the team that can successfully pass the baton in the exchange zone. This is continual leadership.

That’s right: races are won or lost in the passing of the baton.

In the race I’m running I’ve received the baton from some amazing people and I’m looking forward with joy and anticipation to the people I get to hand the baton to. I’ve listed below some encouraging resources from folks who are running in the same season as me. I hope they’ll help you to finish strong.

Shalom, Tom Lavigne

Church Planters love to party!

Rev. Dr. Luis Pantoja had a dream… Pastor Cliff Gonzales has a dream… Pastor Tom Lavigne has a dream. The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada has a dream.

Together we are celebrating the unfolding of a dream in the mosaic of the West!

Luis Pantoja had a dream to see the vision of Greenhills Christian Fellowship Philippines translated into the culture of Western Canada. Pastor Pantoja, who passed away a short
while ago, lived to celebrate the birthing of the dream through a joint partnership between
GCF and the CBWC.

Pastor Cliff Gonzales, a veteran church planter, is celebrating the dream of planting Greenhills churches in every quadrant of the city of Calgary. See Greenhills Christian
Fellowship Calgary as they celebrate their second anniversary:

Tom Lavigne and the Canadian Baptists have a dream of seeing the growth of God’s kingdom, alleviating poverty and suffering, and the development of a new generation of Christian leaders and church planters. With 20 new churches and 30 developing projects we are seeing the dream unfold in Western Canada.

Join with us in the miracle and joy of new churches in the West. It’s worth celebrating!

Orienteering and the Year Ahead

In the sporcompass-mapt of orienteering, participants race using a compass and a map to find points in the landscape. It can be enjoyed as a walk in the woods or as a competitive sport.

Compass use works best when looking ahead to focus on where you’re going, while also looking back regularly to remind yourself where you’ve come from and to help keep yourself on track.

Looking back over 2012, we’re excited and grateful to see God at work in our Church Plants. He’s strengthening and growing them deeper in their relationship with Him and in the communities they’re called to across Western Canada. We’re seeing people coming to faith and coming back to faith, people being baptized, and people being discipled and raised up as leaders.

Everywhere we look we see that God is moving, the West is changing and the world is coming.

Looking ahead we’re awed by the opportunities before us. There are prospective planting opportunities in Neepawa and Winnipeg, Manitoba; Kindersley, Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Calgary, Edmonton, Hughendon, Red Deer, and Wainwright, Alberta; and Quesnel, Vancouver, Victoria, and Williams Lake, British Columbia. The task ahead is as thrilling as it is daunting.


Mikyuki and Yoichi Taniguchi

As we orienteer our way around Western Canada we are very thankful for the courage and sacrifices being made daily by those leading in our new and developing churches.

We continue to pray for Reymus and Angie Cagampan in Winnipeg; Patrick and Vicki Hazelwood in Lethbridge; Roger and Dorcas Maurice, Yoichi and Miyuki Taniguchi, and Cliff and Jen Gonzales in Calgary; Janet and Gerry McBeth, Albert Kao and Christina Wu, and Peter and Jennifer Chong in Burnaby; Jodi Spargur and Hizon and Grace Cua in Vancouver; and Norm and Alice Sowden in Mill Bay.

Tom with Alice and Norm Sowden

Tom with Alice and Norm Sowden

Our successful Church Plant orienteering is made possible through the ongoing prayers and generous financial support of the entire Canadian Baptists of Western Canada church family. In particular we would like to thank Westview Baptist Church, Leduc Community Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church Sechelt and First Baptist Church Lethbridge for going above and beyond to help make extra contributions to the cause in 2012Thank you!

Special thanks also to Jan Paasuke and the CBWC Board, Jeremy Bell and the Executive Staff, and Joell Haugan and the Church Planting Advisory Team for your continued oversight and encouragement. To Cailey Morgan, my co-labourer in ministry: thank you for going the extra mile in our communications, networking and research—and for being a difference maker in the Kingdom.

Orienteering is a full of risks. The challenges are many and the task sometimes seems impossible. Church Planting involves courage, character and conviction. Looking forward to 2013 we’re emboldened by the words of the apostle Paul to the Philippians:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (3:12-14).

Pastor Tom Lavigne, Director of Church Planting