Patrick and Nadine Armstrong, who serve Beacon Baptist Church in Victoria Harbour, recently held a community outreach and invited Harold Peasley, Church Planting Mentor and Director of Evangelism, to speak. He preached a powerful message entitled “The Tragedy of the Titanic”. The message was well received and as a result, Beacon Baptist has two new people attending church and Bible studies and one other new person attending weekly Bible study. One woman, whom Patrick and Nadine had been interacting with but who had not come to church or a Bible study before, came to the presentation and felt a call from the Lord that night. Since that night she has attended church each Sunday and Bible study every week. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour and Patrick baptized her in Georgian Bay of Lake Huron a short time later. This was only a few weeks after Pat baptized another woman in Georgian Bay who they had been working with since last spring. Harold’s message powerfully impacted both of these women, and they are already evangelizing friends and neighbours who are asking questions about their faith. Not long ago, Pat and Nadine were eating lunch with these two women and saw their faith put into action. They engaged in an interesting theological discussion with another patron as well as the owner of the establishment who is an atheist. Please join us in praising God for these new believers. Continue to pray for the Armstrongs and Beacon Baptist Church as they bring the gospel to the Victoria Harbour community.
by Brett Porter, Send City Missionary
Across our city, within our tribe, the majority of our churches are young. When I say the majority, I mean literally over 2/3 of our churches are less than five years old. We have over 40 churches in our network that are still in their infancy. We are so excited about what God has done and continues to do across the city. Our church planting team is extremely grateful for those who laboured long before many of us became a part of what God is doing in the city of Toronto.
Our vision is simple: To see a massive growth of local expressions of the Kingdom of God all across our city. For this to happen, we cannot simply keep adding churches. We must continue to develop systems for multiplication where these new churches are planting new churches that plant churches. The ultimate desire is not simply to have numbers on a sheet, but to see groups of people living out the Kingdom of God all over the city. The result will be transformed communities living underneath a new banner, King Jesus.
The questions we often hear are “WHEN” and “HOW” should a church plant another church? Here are some thoughts to consider…
- There will never be a perfect time to plant :: As a church, there will always be reasons why “now” is not a good time to plant. This does not mean recklessly start trying to plant a church, but rather develop a strategy and move forward in executing that plan. With no strategy, every time planting comes up, it will be pushed back for some “good” reason.
- You may need other churches to take the journey with you :: This is especially true if your church is young. While you may feel a good strategy is ready to be implemented, it may be wise and even necessary to invite other churches to join in the sending.
- Every church, even new church plants, can be supporting churches :: Regardless of size, age or location, every church can be a part of supporting a new church plant – through praying, through joining on the ground with ministry and through giving funds and resources. This is not about volumes of time spent in the new church plant field or the amount of money given, but rather an intentional focus outward for Kingdom expansion.
- Start with a simple first step :: Often churches, young and old, overthink what it means to partner with another church. As you make a plan, start with something easy to get the ball rolling. Some examples: send a financial gift to the new plant, have a day of prayer and fasting for the new plant, or have a team visit the plant location to encourage the planter and his family or core team.
- Be prepared to manage the tensions :: If you are intentionally investing yourself into Kingdom expansion, tensions will always present. You will find tension from leadership and people from within the church asking questions such as, “Why are we sending money away, when we need more?”, “Why are we always praying for another neighbourhood/city?”, “Shouldn’t we get more healthy before we spread ourselves so thin?” and so on. These will not go away…so learn how to manage this tension. Stand your ground on the vision and call to be Kingdom focused. Be a church that plants churches; it’s worth the effort.
- Model the example of giving yourself away :: As the leader or leadership team, set the pace for the church about what it means to give yourself away. This means as a leader, you should be an example of what it looks like to take the extra steps to be about Kingdom expansion. Put on display what it looks like to be a prayer partner with someone besides you, your ministry, etc. Demonstrate what it looks like to give your time and energy to a ministry that is not related to you, but totally a Kingdom work outside of your ministry. Lead by example of giving to Kingdom expansion above and beyond regular tithes and offerings.
There are many more things we find ourselves talking about, but these are a couple of on-going conversations. Consider these, add more and dive fully in the world of discovering new leaders, raising them up and sending them out to begin to Kingdom expressions all over the world.
by Brett Porter, Send City Missionary
I’ve been reading many reviews of smart watches. I’ve looked at the Apple Watch, Pebble, FitBit, Garmin, etc. I’ve read about prices, make and style, and I’ve tried to determine what each different device does…some do similar things and some are unique.
One of the things I keep running across is the healthy discussion about Apple making things we don’t really need. What I find amusing is that Apple has made it their mission to create things that aren’t essential, but we end up not having a clue how to live without it today. An example is the iPod/mp3 player. Many of us can’t imagine living without one. Carrying around a walkman or discman would be crazy today. The same goes for smart phones & tablets.
I heard a great leadership principle while visiting the Apple headquarters several years ago and was reminded of that thought again today. The principle is to “lead not by consensus, but lead toward the best decision.”
In leadership, often the decision is determined by what the majority thinks and is not driven by what is best for the group (especially when many are initially against the decision). When we lead others based on consensus resulting in less than best decisions, we are not really leading anywhere that matters.
Thoughts on leading toward the best decision and not consensus…
- Listen :: Just because you are not going to lead by consensus, does not mean you don’t listen to others…especially those on your leadership team. Allow for people to speak into the decision. Most likely, you are not the smartest person in the room, so take the advice of others into consideration so you make the best decision.
- Learn :: Take advantage of every next step and spend time learning as much about the options on the table as you can. Assume the posture of a learner. Research, ask others, and dive into other similar decisions you can find to discover what happened and determine the consequences – good and bad – of the decision made.
- Push Back :: Often we make decisions at step one and never consider step two and three to follow. Take time to push back on the options…if we do this, what happens next? What new issues come from making this decision? The trick in this is about sharpening each other in the decision process, not being Negative Nick or Debbie Downer. There is a difference! This will allow you to move forward with boldness and confidence.
- ONE Voice :: After you take the needed time to make the best decision, make sure your team moves forward with one voice. This is not the time to have “side-conversations” about why you don’t like this or that. That time was in the above steps. At this point a good leadership team will move forward with one voice and one movement.
I hope this has spawned some thoughts for you as a leader. Now grab your iPod, turn on some tunes, take your smartphone, computer or tablet and jot down some thoughts about ways to lead your team – not to consensus but towards their best decision.
by Hans Ostrem, Church Planter
Have you ever been asked which biblical character you most imitate?
I have been asked this many times though out my life and ministry. This is a very hard task given the vast examples in Scripture. Though I have chosen different characters at different times in my life, currently I choose Gideon.
I relate so much to Gideon’s calling, as I also was surprised to be called into His service. My parents are career missionaries, but I never felt that on my life. Of course I desired to serve Him, however, I wanted to do so in my own way. I studied medicine after college, happy to leave evangelism and ‘missions’ to those ‘called’. I still remember when my (now) wife and I were praying for clarity in getting married and were seeking Him for the future. My wife knew she was being called to serve, but I believed I was unworthy. “ [. . .] “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 1 I can relate, also being least in my Father’s household. I felt that God could and should use others with greater potential for His kingdom. With Gideon, he also doubted himself. But the angel of the Lord provided a sign, demonstrating that God was not only calling Gideon, but was WITH him. I did not physically see the angel of the Lord with my calling, but knew it was in fact, God. I knew that no matter what happened in my life, He was with me and would use me, for His purposes.
Later on, Gideon’s faith was tested in battle. “By a divinely guided process of elimination, the numerical strength of Gideon’s army is reduced from 32,000 to 10,000 to 300.”2 In a relativity short period of time, God reduced Gideon’s army to the mere but humble 300. Yet, he was facing an army of over 100,000. God wanted Gideon to trust that he could still win with so few soldiers. Again, God sent a sign in the form of a dream, this time, to help Gideon know that God had not only called him, but was still WITH him.
In my life and ministry I have faced some pretty incredible, and seemingly impossible, circumstances much-like Gideon. One of my big life applications from Gideon’s life; is to trust that God has not only called me to His work, but is WITH me always in it.
1 Judges 6:15b (English Standard Version)
2 Howell, Don N., Jr. Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003.
by Church Planter Robin Wasti, Pastor LEAF Canada
Brampton, north of Toronto, is the fastest growing city in Canada and has one of the largest concentrations of South Asians in the country. The city has followers of Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism, the largest population among these being Sikhs. We at LEAF Canada (Life Eternal Asian Fellowship) are focused on reaching South Asians in the Brampton area and it is our desire to see them come to Christ. This summer, we invested time getting to know the communities around our church and we called our program “Love Brampton”.
To do this, we asked four teams from the US to come help us do outreach activities in connecting with the Asian community. During the month of July, these teams each spent about a week with us – visiting places of worship for the various religions practiced here, going door-to-door distributing Bibles, Scripture portions, and Jesus Film DVDs, and inviting the kids in the community to come to Kid’s Clubs. When one of the teams went door-to-door, they came the home of a Hindu family and talked with the wife. She said that she and her husband shared a large house, but they spoke very little to each other and there was much unrest in the family. The team prayed with her and asked God to restore their marriage relationship. The lady said the team was like an angel of God visiting her that day, bringing exactly what she needed. Many people in the area were given the opportunity to hear about Christ right on the doorstep. During the month, over 2000 Jesus Film DVDs were distributed, each DVD containing the film in 16 local languages. DVDs of Christian testimonies were also distributed.
The highlights of each week were the Kid’s Clubs that the volunteer teams ran in various local parks over a period of 12 nights. The response of the kids was amazing – an average of 100 children attended each Kid’s Club event, with numbers running as high as 198 kids registered at one of the parks. Many people in the community wanted to take part in helping the volunteers run the events. One young lady came a few times and offered her help in translating and helping the kids. In another park, one of the men from the community brought food and drinks for everyone at the Kid’s Club (more than 350 children and adults), as a way to show thanks for the volunteers who were taking time to show love to the children. The men and women of that same community were so grateful that they invited us to come to their Mela (celebration) event that weekend.
During the Clubs, the volunteers played many games with the children, did crafts with them, and also told them several Bible stories. We involved the men and women in games as well, and they really enjoyed taking part in these fun events. We then had the opportunity to share the Gospel with them. While the children were doing activities, people from the church walked around the park and talked to the parents to build relationship with those who came. We had great conversations with them and were able to share the Gospel to many.
God has blessed us immensely through these teams which involved people from churches in Stonegate Fellowship Midland Texas, Hands on the Mission North Carolina, Henderson First Baptist Church Kentucky, and First Baptist Church Oceanway Jacksonville, Florida, as well as local Christians such as Richard from OM, Jeremy Langley and his family (IMB) and Joe and Susan (IMB), Mrs. Mussart Anwar, Mrs. Arzoo Shaw and her two daughters and many others local believers. At the end of the Love Brampton events, local Christians went around to various homes to do follow-up with those who seemed interested in knowing more about Christ and to pray with them in their homes. It is a joy to serve Him as we continue to reach Brampton with His love and His story.
Church Planter Jose Fasolino
Every opportunity we have to learn and grow is a great opportunity, especially if it’s related to what we’re doing on a daily basis. Therefore for us as Christians, SEND was an enriching experience. We knew where we were going. What we did not know was that it was going to be beyond our expectations! Emmanuel Baptist Church East brought a group of four church leaders, which is 25% of our Church. How awesome is that!!
We left behind our spouses, children and homes to spend the next five days doing something we all have been called to do. Live our lives on mission. From the moment we left our “comfort zone” for the 14 hour car ride, we began experiencing something we would come to understand as “life on mission”. This was the most important thing we brought back. We understand now that the place where we are living, working, studying, doing everyday life, is our mission field. Those around us; our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers are the ones we need to reach. And even though this is probably something we already knew, it is the main reason our lives and hearts are oriented toward church planting – meaning planting churches that plant churches that plant churches…
Our experience at Send2015 was the flame that lit a fuse which nothing can extinguish!
Church Planter Gelvi Urribarri
The Send conference was an awesome experience. My family got to experience a well organized event and was able to meet part of our huge Baptist family. But for me the highlight of this trip was the words of my 21 years old, Jose, when he told me how amazing the whole movement is. He was surprised to see the movement that is supporting the church he is helping to plant in Toronto.
Church Planter Derrick Wilhelmus
My wife and I just returned from an awesome conference in Nashville, Tennessee where we worshipped with 13,500 people, prayed with them, and learned with them from many amazing speakers. This two day event was awesome! The focus was to live out our faith by planting churches, sharing the gospel, making disciples, embracing the life Christ has called us to, and the need to support these efforts.
As I reflect, my heart has much joy and sadness. Joy in the fact that there are many embracing this calling; sadness because many more are not embracing this calling. We need to live an active Christian life. We need to be sharing the gospel with others, we need to be walking alongside others, and we need to be investing in others. We are God’s servants. Our task is to first and foremost represent Him!
People will be quick to share with you places of interest, such as: great restaurants, exciting tourist attractions, a great bargain at a retail store, or a favourite book. But many have difficulty sharing Jesus. Why is this? For everything we enjoy is by the grace of God. Why find pleasure in these things when we can find ultimate pleasure in Him, the One who created everything?
Being a follower of Christ isn’t a solo experience. We work better in numbers. I would encourage you to join us on this journey. Let’s live out our faith together.
by Jacob Puiras
Learn how Jacob and his wife, Tamsyn, are serving their community of Glendon College through this video blog.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Sarah Bessey
Target has failed in Canada. And I can’t say that I’m surprised. But it’s not because I know much about retail. My notable retail experience includes three years working at Smart Set in Southcentre Mall during high school. I was excellent at folding t-shirts for the 2 for $25 table. Nope, a retail giant analyst I am not, but what I do have I offer to you: regular old church experience.
Most of my childhood and teenage years as a neo-charismatic Christian in western Canada can be characterized by an almost identical exercise: a big American name comes to Canada to plant a church, and then in rather short order, heads back over the border, usually while blaming us for the failure.
So when news broke today about Target’s abject and utter failure to expand into Canada, I began to think this morning about how church planters to Canada (or even within Canada) can learn from the Target failure. So off the top of my head, here are a few connections I made between Target and outsider-church-planting in Canada:
1. Target tried to open American stores in Canada. That sounds a bit silly when I write it out but here’s what I mean: Americans often tried to start American churches in Canada. They wanted churches that looked like American churches and they wanted people who thought like Americans. And then there would be frustration because we weren’t, well, American.
2. Target was out of stock of the essentials. When people went to Target, they simply never found what they actually went there to get. It’s hard to miss this metaphor for the church in Canada. Often what we have to offer as a church isn’t what people actually want. Canada isn’t the United States and we aren’t Europe either. Each community has its own religious history and even that changes drastically from neighbourhood to home.
3. Target went too fast. In less than a year, the retail giant created 133 stores and a few distribution centres. From a church perspective, I saw many church planters fail because they also went too fast. They landed and set up shop quickly. They weren’t part of the community, they had no friends, they didn’t take the time to live among us and with us. They didn’t love us and it became obvious. We were a project, not people.
4. Target refused to allow people in Canada to lead. Like most retail giants, leadership isn’t valued as much as management. We often saw the church planters come with Their Vision and Their People and Their Six Month Plan: we were there simply to execute their plan. Our input was not required.
5. Target didn’t connect to the communities where they set up shop. The leaders often didn’t consult the area churches, leaders, or believers. They simply showed up and started without a thought for other believers already labouring in that field. By not connecting to their community, these leaders often missed opportunities to learn and to be part of something amazing.
I’ll miss Target in theory. I feel incredibly sad for their employees today.
But the truth is that I didn’t shop there either.
To read this blog in its entirety visit What Church Planters can learn from Target’s Failure in Canada by Sarah Bessey
reprinted from The Exchange – A Blog by Ed Stetzer
“How do I know the Lord wants me to go here?” is a common question I get from young church planters trying to decide about a planting a church. The answer to that question is of utmost importance.
A Church Planter is Called to a People and a Place
People have different opinions on this, but I’m going to give you mine.
I don’t think a church planter should go plant a church until you’re called to a specific place and people.
This is a little tricky because I actually don’t think people are generically called to church planting.
I think they’re called to plant a church among a certain people or a place.
You can’t build your entire view of something on your personal experience, but I will share my calling as an illustration.
Even though I got turned down by my denominational missions agency to be a church planter (I was, after all, 20 and had no training), God still spoke to our hearts. I was up in Buffalo, New York and Donna was at home. I returned and told her when I was at Prospect Avenue and Seventh Street in Buffalo I discerned that the Lord wanted me to plant a church there.
Donna said she was praying and that God told her the same thing. We knew at that point we were supposed to go. It was significant, but that’s only happened to me once. I’ve planted six churches and the level of clarity was not as evident. But, there was always a sense of call.
Confirmation though Compassion
Confirmation came to me in every place when I knew that I could do nothing else except plant the church among the people of a certain place. I could not do anything else or do it anywhere else.
I lived in my current neighborhood for four years before setting out to plant a church. I was reaching some neighbors and inviting them to church, while serving as an interim pastor at various churches. But then God put a burden in my heart that I needed to plant a church for these people and for their friends.
All of the places I planted had one thing in common. I had a spiritual burden that involved a specific people—from the urban poor in Buffalo to my neighbors in Sumner County, TN decades later.
Fall in Love with a Specific Group of People
Church planting and missionary work is a unique role that requires a unique and clearly discerned calling. The Apostle Paul consistently spoke of the burden he had for different people in different places.
A church planter must fall in love with the place and fall in love with the people. When I fell in love with my wife, I wanted to know everything about her and spend as much time as I could with her. I did things with her that I would not normally do. I learned new things about her interests. I did this fervently because I was in love with her.
The same thing is true about a people and a place where you are going to plant a church. You must fall in love with its interests. You need to learn more about the place than anybody else does because you’re falling in love with the place and you’re falling in love with the people.
Pray and Fast for Discernment
Pray and fast until God makes your calling clear to you. Wrestle with the Lord until it is irrefutable. I don’t want a general calling to plant a church. I want a clear burden for a specific people. I cannot plant a church until my heart breaks for the people where God has called me to plant a church. Don’t start a church without this calling.
At the end of the day, I want a type of Macedonian call. Paul had one when he saw a man from Macedonia calling to him, “Come over and help us” (Acts 16:9).
I’m not saying you need a vision in a dream—and I’ve never had one like that. However, I’ve never planted a church, and I wouldn’t plant a church, unless I had a clear vision for a place and a people that I knew in my heart God was calling me to “come over and help” a certain people in a certain place.
– Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of LifeWay Research
Last year I took my 12-year old son to Canada’s Wonderland. Of course, he wanted to go on the “Leviathan”, the biggest coaster there. We lined up for almost an hour, shooting the breeze while we waited, people watching, and trying not to admit to the other that this thing looked really scary. By the time we made it to the front we were both ready and apprehensive. I wondered how he would do. We loaded up and started up that first hill. Clickity-clack, clickity-clack, clickity-clack. Once we crested over that first hill everything is a blur. Break neck speeds. Sheer exhilaration. Feelings of being out of control. Life on the edge. Pressure at every turn. Fear. Joy. Anxiety. Excitement. And then…as quick as it started…it was over. As we unloaded we were already talking about going again. Laughing. Comparing our experience. Telling stories of those around us.
The journey of planting a church is kind of like riding the “Leviathan”. Complete with incredible highs as we see God at work. Frustrating lows as people make poor choices or let us down. We experience both joy and frustration. Fear and excitement. Anxiety and contentment.
I can’t imagine embarking on my church planting journey without my wife. I imagine most planters feel the same. No one likes to ride a roller coaster alone. Thank you for taking this journey with us.
- Thank you for getting in line with us – talking, processing, praying, discerning his call, and reminding us of his call when we find it hard to remember.
- Thank you for risking with us – making financial sacrifices, leaving the comfortable, going ‘all in’, not allowing fear or anxiety to deter us from our call.
- Thank you for what you bring to this journey – the gifts you bring, the stability you add, the sacrifices you make, the things you do that no one will ever see or thank you for.
- Thank you for supporting us – debriefing after a failed event, celebrating with our successes, taking a heavy share of the parenting load, and continually sharing your authentic self
You are the unsung heroes of church planting. May you recognize your value in the Kingdom. May you see the fruit of your sacrifice. May your marriage grow thru the ups and downs. May you enjoy this wild ride you are on.