VOL. 18, No. 3 // SPRING 2015
MORE AND BETTER CHURCHES
THINKING AHEAD PHOTO: KIM NEELIN
The Newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada
Celebrating a Diverse Leadership Team
From: Sam Watts To: Leadership Team Subject: Easter Plans Ladies & Gentlemen, After reviewing our plans for Easter, Jeff and I have determined some minor changes to this weekend’s program. We will set up a mobile petting zoo in part of the lobby on Sunday AM. The majority of the animals will be accessible outside our front doors in two large tents. This will engage younger families and is a creative way to link the story of the Easter bunny with the real story of Easter... Finally, on Easter Sunday, we will announce a new donation plan called “Freedom for Us—Bondage for You,” to build capital quickly for expansion or more extensive renovations at Westview. Our congregation will be invited to re-finance any of their assets with ABC Finance and use the money as a donation to the WBC building fund.
hen thirty senior leaders at Westview Bible Church in Montreal read this email from long-time lead elder Sam Watts, they were perplexed. They had followed Sam’s leadership on many risktaking adventures. But this time he had gone too far! Then they glanced down at the date—April 1st—Sam was making an April Fools’ Day joke. A few leaders were taken in because it sounded half-way believable and they trust Sam. The Westview team has spent time building a rich leadership culture that is CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
INSIDE Celebrating a Diverse Leadership Team pages 1 & 2
Preaching Matters! page 6
VMC Resources for Churches page 3
VMC Network News page 7
VMC National Consultation pages 4 & 5
A Spreading Vision page 8
Celebrating a Diverse Leadership Team CONTINUED FROM FRONT
generous enough to make room for this kind of fun—and a wide variety of gifts. “We have a foundation of trust,” says Westview’s lead pastor Jeff Simunic. But the trust that exists on the Westview team is not because they all see things the same way. “We don’t want ten clones in the room.” Sam and some others on the team are gifted teachers, so they do most of the speaking on a Sunday morning. “Jeff is a master implementor,” says Sam. He is able to take the team’s vision, map it out, and make it happen. He is also good at helping others discover their gifts and pursue the ministry God is calling them to. “Our team members value each other’s gifts,” says Jeff. “There is a real enjoyment in seeing God use each of us.” About twenty years ago, Westview was a mostly white congregation. But they wanted to impact their neighbourhood with the gospel. “Now there is every possible colour of the rainbow, age range, and socio-economic status,” says Sam. “We are a church that attracts people with problems. We are more of a hospital than a museum.” To meet the needs of this varied congregation, it takes many different gifts. “The church and the community need all of the gifts. It is a joy when we see all hands on deck,” says Jeff. Sam says that sometimes church leadership teams can get heavily focused on one or two gifts and get out of balance.
Though Sam is a teacher, he says that sometimes churches can put too much emphasis on teaching. “Jesus did not die and rise again so we could sit back and enjoy great teaching; we are called to make disciples.” To make disciples, other gifts including leadership, shepherding, and administration also need to be exhibited.
Grace Bible Chapel’s leadership team includes Kevin Jolly, Stacey Sullivan, Dave Briggins, Karen Klassen, Graeme Higgs and Dianne Holmes
Pastor Mark Harris, from Grace Bible Chapel in Halifax, also appreciates leading a team with a variety of gifts. “When I arrived at Grace 12 years or so ago, I was weak in dealing with conflict,” says Mark. During his first few years at Grace, Mark says there were some “tangled and tense conflicts.” He was pleased to work alongside Graeme, one of Grace’s elders. “With his natural abilities and experience in HR, Graeme had a tremendous gift in helping people work through conflict.” Mark says, “I appreciate the gifts of other leaders because those gifts are vital to a healthy church.” Mark works with younger pastoral staff “who are very creative and adventurous in their approaches to ministry.” Primarily a teacher and shepherd, Mark can be
cautious. “I can find my back getting up when dramatic changes to our life together are suggested.” Yet he is grateful for the new ideas. “I think it’s part of my responsibility as a lead pastor to create space for others on the team to experiment and thrive.” As the leaders at Grace interact and launch out together in ministry, Mark sees God at work. “He uses us to encourage, sharpen, and challenge each other through the diversity of personalities and gifts people bring to the table.” As the teams at Westview and Grace Chapel demonstrate, with God’s help it is possible to celebrate—not just survive— a diverse leadership team. ■
Cultivating a Balanced Team
Westview’s leadership team includes Carina Baladi, Yujin Eugenia Oh, Frank Zheng, Glenn Pollock, Jing Zheng, Malcolm Thompson, Maria Bejarano, Mikhaela Neelin, Nita Kotiuga, Paula, Young, Robert Leishman, Rose Naguib, Sam Ge, Sam Watts, Jeff Simunic 2 // THINKING AHEAD
Go to www. vision-ministries.org/resources/ for-church-leaders/ to find “Three Categories of Leaders.” Gord Martin suggests every congregation needs Directional Leaders (like David and Paul), Organizational Leaders (like Solomon), and Pastoral Leaders (like Barnabas and Timothy). Leaders should spend 75% of their time in their area of giftedness. A church gets off course when certain types of leaders are missing. Without a Directional Leader a church may be full of comfort and care but lacking in vision. With no Organizational Leader, lots of big ideas are discussed but little gets implemented. Without Pastoral Leaders, the church moves forward and runs smoothly, but people feel uncared for.
New Website! VISION MINISTRIES CANADA More and Better Churches
Board of Directors Jim Doherty, Toronto, ON David Knight, Waterloo, ON Ron Seabrooke, Linwood, ON Ken Taylor, Waterloo, ON Binghai Zeng, Toronto, ON Susan Kaiser, Montreal, QC
Visit our re-designed website at www.vision-ministries.org. On it you will find all kinds of goodies including these resources for church leaders.
VMC Resources for Churches
Here is a partial list of helpful resources available at vision-ministries.org/ resources/for-church-leaders/ Church Leadership (Most Frequently Used): ▶▶ “Three Categories of Leaders” (in English or Mandarin) ▶▶ “Groups Guide and Govern, Individuals Lead” ▶▶ “Seven Common Barriers to Progress” ▶▶ “Church Leaders Should Know” ▶▶ Natural Church Development, a church health diagnostic assessment ▶▶ Book summary of Pursuing The Full Kingdom Potential of Your Congregation, by George W. Bullard, Jr. Church Administration (Most Frequently Used): ▶▶ Incorporation & Charitable Status ▶▶ A Church Governance Template Videos: ▶▶ When Cultures, Robust Faith, & Values Clash – Michael Frost ▶▶ A Robust Faith that Dares & Nurtures – Michael Frost ▶▶ A Robust Faith on Display – Michael Frost ▶▶ Church: A Robust Strategy – Michael Frost ▶▶ Moving the Mission Forward 2014 (stories from Granville Chapel/Morning Star West Vancouver, University Chapel/Sojourn, Bow Valley Christian Church – Mahogany & Skyview, Toronto China Bible Church Mandarin Network)
Consulting for Churches and Leaders
VMC staff—and a number of people in whom they have confidence—do consulting for churches. Often these involve one or two intense weekends with the primary leaders of the church, may involve presentations to the congregation and will include follow-up. Congregations are expected to pay reasonable honorariums and travel costs.
Staff Gord Martin, Jay Gurnett, Henrietta Koenig, Doug Loveday, John Riley, Indiana Salai Cungcin, Mark Anderson, Pernell Goodyear, Paul Fletcher, Gary Allen, Al Rahamut Thinking Ahead/Vision Ministries Canada 145 Lincoln Road, Waterloo, ON N2J 2N8 Phone: 519-725-1212 Toll-free 1-877-509-5060 Fax: 519-725-9421 E-mail: info [AT] vision-ministries.org Web: www.vision-ministries.org THINKING AHEAD is published three times per year in an effort to connect like-minded Christians and their local churches and encourage them to work cooperatively, especially in evangelism, through church planting and church extension. Spending of funds received by VMC is confined to board-approved programs and purchases. Each gift designated toward an approved program will be used as designated with the understanding that when any given need has been met, designated gifts will be used where needed most. Gifts of $20 or more are acknowledged with an official tax receipt. VMC is committed to financial accountability; all accounts are audited by an independent auditing firm; financial statements available on request. We appreciate notification of double mailings, names for our mailing list, or if a name should be deleted. Articles may be copied for limited circulation without permission. Please include the credit line: “Reprinted from Thinking Ahead. 1.877.509.5060 / www. vision-ministries.org.” Editor: Sandra Reimer Designer: Wes Reimer Reimer Reason Communications THINKING AHEAD // 3
Christian leaders from churches in the VMC network consult with God at the VMC National Consultation on April 24th and 25th, 2015. “The whole time was like a worship and prayer event,” said one who attended.
VMC National Consultation April 24+25, 2015 It was everything we hoped it would be! We wanted to get a sense of what God was doing among us and we wanted to have an opportunity to “think together” with invited representatives of the VMC Church Constituency about where we are going as an organization. So 60 diverse representatives from 46 churches met with us from 9:00 on Friday morning till 3:30 on Saturday afternoon in mid-April, 2015. We celebrated the 21 churches that started or affiliated with VMC since January of 2014. We were inspired as various individuals led us in spiritual
VMC staff members John Riley and Rob Heintz at the consultation held at Lincoln Road Chapel, Waterloo, ON 4 // THINKING AHEAD
practice sessions, we were informed as others gave short presentations on ministry matters of national significance and we were encouraged as some reported on what was happening in their regions. There were many opportunities to discuss all of these themes. We were in tears as we listened to four testimonies of conversion and transformation on Saturday morning. God knows how to soften hardened hearts! One person said the whole time was like a worship and prayer event. It was also a consultation. VMC has been at a capacity crossroad for a few years. For this reason, we were seeking affirmation and direction about: ▶▶ Our vision and strategy ▶▶ Future staffing ▶▶ Funding ▶▶ Frequency and shape of our national gathering There was a lot of appreciation expressed regarding VMC’s contribution to the lives and churches of those gathered. We wanted to know: Should we continue to do what we are doing? Should our focus be narrower? Should we continue to broaden and deepen our ministries? The conclusion was that we should continue with one national organization, we should enlist volunteers as much as possible and that we should add part-time and full-time assistance—especially in the regions across Canada. Some said we need to continue to clarify the vision and strategy of VMC and to increase our capacity and creativity in the use of social media. Most of our discussion about funding was related to funding from churches. Funds from churches are increasingly being directed to Moving the Mission Forward planting and ministry projects on both national and regional levels and away from support of the engine of VMC ministry
staff. A broad recommendation was that VMC should provide value to churches, ask for 2% of the general fund of partnering churches (adjusted for those with annual budgets over $500,000), and require reasonable fees for services. What about our national gatherings? A clear majority said we should make this consultation into an annual event—and include some conference-like elements. We think this is a good idea and have set April 29th and 30th of 2016 as the date for next year’s gathering. We came away from this event with the sense that all of this “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28). ■
Brian Larmour (Charleswood Community Church, Winnipeg), Andrew Karram (Mosaic, London), Gavin Hall (Charleswood), Indy Cungcin (Chin Christian Fellowship of Canada)
Being at the event last week has stirred up a new hunger in our hearts to see God’s kingdom come in our lives and those of our neighbours. – Moji Ajele, Calgary Just a quick note to say thank you for making it possible for me to attend these two deeply life-giving days with you at the Consultation. I returned home on Saturday night, full of energy and encouragement. My Impressions: • the extraordinary levels of both devotion and giftedness in the leaders gathered in that room— these people are paying a price to serve in His Kingdom • extremely high levels of trust in each other, humility, and openness to learning • serious commitment to prayer, worship, and making space for God to speak… My Take-Aways: • God is indeed on the move among the churches of Canada and
particularly in the churches of our network—we can trust Him to do what only He can do… • Networking, building relationships of trust, and looking together towards God will move us forward in shared mission. • If each of us offers what we have, pouring ourselves out to honour God and our fellow believers, God will multiply these offerings and expand His Kingdom. • Gatherings like this can change the course of history in both obvious and mysterious ways… Finally, the selfless devotion (and joy!) of the long-time VMC staff members—always there, smiling, encouraging, helping, serving— makes quite an impression. This movement breeds loyalty—and it is inspiring! Again, thank you! – Mark Anderson (freshly inspired BC Network Rep), Vancouver
THINKING AHEAD // 5
Preaching Matters! KEN TAYLOR
believe a lot of churches could improve their worship gatherings with better preaching. Preaching that is a priority. Preaching that is biblical. Preaching that is relevant. Make it a priority Jesus preached (Mark 1:38-39). He trained his disciples to preach (Mark 3:14) and calls on us to preach (Mark 14:9). Paul wrote, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). I love variety in preaching styles. I relish the use of creative tools like video, visuals, life-stories, etc. But whatever we do we must not stray from our Master’s call to preach. Preaching is a God-ordained and God-blessed vehicle for growing healthy churches. Preachers must be committed, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, to accurately unpack the Word of God and proclaim its truths with passion, creativity and relevance so as to effect change in belief and behaviour. I spend more time preparing my sermons than anything else I do. I think that priority should be the norm.
Make it biblical I love expository preaching but I do not agree with those who declare that it is the only way to preach or even the best way. Is there any record that Jesus, Peter or Paul ever preached an expository sermon? Ezra’s sermon in the book of Nehemiah may be the only example of expository preaching in the Bible. It’s not about style, it’s about substance. It isn’t whether I preach topically or textually or expositionally. It’s about whether the sermon is rooted in biblical truth and is a “thus saith the Lord” experience, where people feel like they have heard from God and not some dazzling preacher.
helpful. Dissect a Pharisee and you’ll see what I mean: big head, itty-bitty heart. This is where creativity can amp up the relevance. Life stories purchased off the internet or shared by your congregation can drive home the truth big time. Handouts, such as nails at a Good Friday service or a card with a key verse on it go a long way to personalizing the message. Video clips downloaded for a few bucks, visuals—even an old-fashioned chalkboard—can enhance the message. Our call is to craft and deliver biblically relevant sermons. Ready for Sunday? Preach it! ■
Make it relevant Irrelevant sermons bore people and present God as disconnected from real life. Our mandate is not to teach the Bible. Our mandate is to teach the Bible to people. Preaching to people is critical. It demands we craft the sermon, keeping the text and audience in mind. Relevant preaching is not about what people want. It’s about what they need and are to do, not just what they should know. A “know it” only sermon isn’t
Ken Taylor is Lead Pastor at Creekside Church in Waterloo, ON
CONTINUED FROM BACK
a wide (and always wider) number of churches were about reaching out to their communities in diverse and creative ways. Increasingly church leaders are seeing the mission of reaching the people of their communities as their primary mandate. They are thinking and behaving more like missionaries, as they ask questions like: How will we engage people in our community? How will we make the Gospel relevant to them? How can we disciple people whose lives have been in such chaos? How will we reach the huge numbers of people that are streaming into Canada from all around the world? How will we help them toward maturity? How will we mobilize our whole church towards 6 // THINKING AHEAD
this mission for the glory of God? How will we stay on track? The ministry of VMC is directed almost exclusively to the church leaders of our network. Even so, our small staff at VMC cannot do it all. We have asked some pastors to be Network Leaders (regional reps) to advance this vision among the church leaders and churches in their areas. Together we are learning to Move the Mission Forward. However, we do not limit our ministry to the network of churches associated with VMC. We also work together with other denominations and agencies. It is becoming increasingly common to see new church plants that are supported by two or even
three denominations. Denominational leaders affiliated with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada meet together twice a year to share their successes and challenges with one another and to pray for each other. We see this as a delightful expression of and answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17 that all of his disciples would be one. We believe the Holy Spirit has been prompting other denominational leaders along similar lines as the mission of Jesus draws us together. We eagerly anticipate and work toward a day when many more Canadians from coast to coast awaken to God and the Gospel through churches that are fully alive to Jesus and his kingdom. ■
VMC Network News Welcome Syrian & Iraqi Refugees in 2015
the process started. Find more information about government refugee sponsorship programs at www.cic.gc.ca/english/ refugees/sponsor/. You must treat the outsider as one of your On Tuesday, June 23rd, 7–7:30 native-born people—as a full citizen—and pm, attend an online presentation you are to love him in the same way you (webinar) with David Cottrill and guests love yourself; for remember, you were once about welcoming refugees to Canada. strangers living in Egypt. I am the Eternal Hear stories as well as details on how One, your God. – Leviticus 19:33 to 34 (The Voice) churches can get involved. Includes time Due to the crisis in these two countries, the for questions. Email sandra [AT] reimerCanadian government has agreed to receive reason.ca to receive a webinar invitation. up to 10,000 Iraqis and 3,000 Syrian Church Planting Congress refugees over the next three years. These Montreal, October 27-29, 2015 traumatized men, women, and children will need communities to love them Join 500+ catalysts, church planters and and help them get resettled. The federal government will be looking for churches and community groups who will cover costs for the refugees during their first year in Canada and/or to help them with practical and social issues of resettlement pastors to hear stories of God moving like learning about Canadian culture and powerfully across Canada, groundfinding a job. breaking new research by Dr. Ed Stetzer, Watch a short video on our website conversations across historical church (International tab) with Harvey Thiessen divides, and more! Choose from 12 of Operation Mobilization about the seminar tracks suitable for first-time and desperate need for people to welcome these long-time planters, plus working groups refugees: http://bit.ly/VMCrefugees on issues like church buildings, theological If you are interested in sponsoring education for planting, etc. The Congress refugees, contact David Cottrill, Director will be bilingual this year (French and of Community Outreach, at North Park English). Church in London, ON: 519-457-1400 ext. See www.churchplantingcanada.ca for 247 or david.cottrill [AT] northpark.ca. more information. David can give you advice and help you get
Gord Martin on a previous teaching trip to Kenya
VMC Teaching Team Returning to Kenya A teaching team—including Doug Loveday, Nathan Harris, Gord Martin, Gary and Dianne Goodkey and Doug Martin—is headed to Kenya for August 6th to 17th. Our focus will be to help establish Vision Ministries Kenya as a viable ministry engine to facilitate the expansion and maturing of a growing network of churches and to provide leadership training for church leaders. The team will hold a four-day training event at KAG East University in Nairobi. We will also celebrate with Kenyans at a ministry event at Namanga, a strongly Maasai area south of Nairobi on the Tanzanian border—one of two places where Canadian churches connected to VMC funded a new church facility in the fall of 2014.
Save the Date! The (now) annual VMC Thinking Shrewdly Consultation will take place at 145 Lincoln Road, Waterloo, Ontario, on April 29th & 30th, 2016.
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A Spreading Vision
n the Bible, visions are given to individuals. God chooses to reveal something of great importance to one person who is to share it with others. Those GORD MARTIN who receive the vision are under obligation. How will the vision-carrier persuade people, not only that their vision was from God, but that others should alter their behaviour to comply with a vision they themselves have not seen? We may ask, do people today receive visions the way that those in the Bible did? Are powerful impressions that we receive from the Holy Spirit the same as a vision? This may be debatable, but in spiritual terms, we know that the source should be the same. VMC began with a vision/deep conviction of: ▶▶ Canadians coming alive to God and the Gospel through outreachoriented churches. ▶▶ Outreach-oriented planters starting churches and receiving encouragement to do so along with moral, practical and relational support.
Welcome to Visio n
Some of you are reading Thinkin g Ahead for the time. Three times very first per year, through this newsletter, VM stories, thinks ou VISION C tells t iss ue MINISTRI s, an d publicizes events ES encourage more CANADA in order to and better chur ch es in Canada an Since 1992, we d beyond. have come along church plants, an side approximat d now help leade ely 90 rs and provide se this country. See rvices to 175+ ch page 3 for some urches in fine print details we manage mon about who we ar ey. e and how To receive a print ed or electronic version of this pu the form on page blication regularly, 7 or send a requ use est to info [AT] vis a regular reader, ion-ministries.org please keep us up (if you’re -to -date with email Read back issue /address change s of Thinking Ah s). ead, register for conferences, an leadership events d find plenty of ot and he r resources at ww We’re glad you’re w.vision-ministries reading Thinking .org. more. Feel free to Ahead and hope to connect some be in touch.
Dear friends, Heather Most of you will have heard that Gord and ly on May Martin’s son Kent passed away unexpected Kent, and of 16. Many of us knew and cared deeply for course much love his parents. rd and Heather Please continue with us in supporting Go s and care. and the rest of the family with your prayer In his great grace, Jay Gurnett On behalf of the VMC Staff and Board ▶▶ Churches becoming effective as leaders learn to work together towards a clear purpose of reaching people and seeing them transformed from the inside out. ▶▶ Networks of churches flourishing as they learn to organize and work together to advance the Gospel in Canada. When we began in 1992, I had a much clearer picture of “what” than “how.” God seems to specialize in telling his people what to do, along with some broad “how principles” and leaving most of the rest up to them to be discovered by faith. He loves it when we trust him and obey by faith! We have gradually been discovering how to do the work that God called us to. As we tell our stories, others are beginning to “own this same vision” like never before. Praise God! At a consultation of leaders from across Canada that we held in April, it was evident that many now embrace this vision vigorously. This past week as we met to pray, most of the prayer requests from CONTINUED ON PAGE 6
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The Newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada: More and Better Churches