VOL. 19 NO. 2 >> WINTER 2016
MORE FLOURISHING EFFECTIVE CHURCHES
THINKING AHEAD The Newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada
2015 Annual Report Inside
Living the Vision
Lessons from Three Church Leaders BY SANDRA REIMER
A young man is baptized wearing a t-shirt with the Creekside Church mission.
Living the Vision p 1-3 VMC Annual Report 2015 p4 Moving the Mission Forward p 5 Regional Updates
rom the early days of Vision Ministries Canada there has been a strong focus on turning talk into action. To help close the gap between carefully crafted mission and vision statements and reality, we gathered tips from three leaders in the VMC network who excel at inspiring action. The three lead in very different contexts. Kevin Mast is a church planter with a new work in Barrie called Hope City Church. Ken Taylor has been the lead pastor of Creekside Community Church, a large urban congregation, in Waterloo, Ontario for the past 27 years. Ming Peng Gong is Primary Leader/Evangelist/Teacher/Planting
Creating a Culture of Invitation p 6 News & Events p7 Giving Yourself Away: Profile p8 on Mike Stone
Catalyst with Toronto China Bible Church who regularly preaches in other Mandarin churches in Canada, as well as in China.
Ming Peng Gong: Be Persistent Ming Pengâ€™s passion to reach people for Christ both in Toronto and in China is contagious. He had been a follower of Jesus just five years when he came to Toronto China Bible Church in 2001. The church was small and struggling. Since that time, many have come to faith through his influence, hundreds have been baptized, the church has planted six satellite churches and is continuing to plant. Ming Peng has a quiet humility ... CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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that belies his vision, giftedness and strength of character. People respect him because of his deep spirituality, his earnestness, and his academic qualifications (including a PhD in Math). He is presently assisting a church plant near York University that started five years ago but has had a difficult time getting off the ground. He said to the leaders there, “With so many thousands of students at York, we have to reach out to them.” Even when results were discouraging Ming Peng refused to give up. “People kept asking, ‘Should we give up?’ I said ‘No, I will not turn back.’” Ming Peng believes that reaching these students is his and his congregation’s responsibility. “This is at the very top of our priorities.” The Fatherhood of God is of deep significance to Ming Peng. Both his father and grandfather committed suicide. Perhaps because of this, Malachi 4:6 is meaningful to him, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Ming Peng believes many need to find their way to the Father just as he did. Ministry Application: Focus and be relentless about reaching people for Christ even in the face of obstacles.
Observations About Visionary Leaders • Churches that experience significant numbers of people coming to Christ, usually have missionary-like leaders. • Congregations that primarily “teach and equip” often have a harder time making disciples of non-disciples. • Some churches are able to combine “reaching behaviour” with teaching and equipping. • We encourage primary leaders to unapologetically shape the ministry of their congregations in ways that reflect their callings and giftedness. • To balance their contributions, leaders should identify, empower and make room for differently gifted people. – Gord Martin 2 // THINKING AHEAD
Church planter Kevin Mast from Hope City Barrie praying with a group of people about to be baptized.
Kevin Mast: Responding to God’s Leading
To keep people focused, Kevin emphasizes their simple mission often. “We talk about discipleship a lot; it is Kevin Mast was one of nine pastors at a the foundation of everything we do.” large suburban church—when he began When considering a new initiative, he and his core group frequently ask to develop a “holy discontent.” Upon themselves “How will this contribute to leaving the church, he and his wife became missionaries in the downtown making disciples?” If it doesn’t further their mission, then they don’t do it. of their city. Kevin also regularly asks his “I went into the coffee shops in Barrie congregation two questions through [Ontario], to exegete and study the the sermon, one-on-one, and in small community that was there.” Originally groups to keep them centred on making he thought God was leading him to disciples. “Who is helping you to follow plant a church among the people that Jesus?” and “Who are you helping to frequented pubs and high-end coffee shops “I was part of the Yuppie hipster follow Jesus?” Kevin believes that it is crucial for scene, and I thought God would use him to lead by example in order to that part of my story.” replicate the vision. “Follow me, as I But God had different ideas. When follow Jesus—is really important to Kevin and six or eight others began me…I believe the pastor should be to meet in a coffee shop, the owner a servant.” That was easier when his welcomed them. Though she was not congregation was smaller. Now with a Christian, she was pleased that they a larger group, Kevin emphasizes started a Bible study. Well-connected developing leaders. “I am spending less and influential in the community, time with unchurched people and new the woman brought people who believers and more time with growing were “broken and marginalized” to leaders.” the fledging group. Kevin sensed He adds, “Vision is not carved in God’s direction through the woman’s stone, vision must be fluid, we are receptivity—like when the disciples solid on who we are but the form can were sent out two-by-two and they felt change. ” welcomed into a home that was open to their message. Ministry Application: Lead by Over the last two years, Hope example, keep the focus simple, check City Church has grown from 20 to a in with people often and through community of about 150 - 170. “We multiple channels to see if they are have seen a lot of people come to faith fulfilling the vision. Replicate yourself. and a lot of spiritual growth,” says Kevin. Follow where the Spirit is leading.
Ken Taylor: Set Goals
complete a survey of the church.” On the survey, attendees report everything “Mission answers the question, ‘Why from where they are at spiritually, to do we exist?’ Vision answers “What how involved they are in church, to how are we going to do?,” says Ken Taylor. well the church is doing in worship, Ken asserts that mission comes straight evangelism, caring etc. Then the from Scripture and that all information is professionally evangelical churches follow collated and evaluated. One of some form of “Go and make Once per year, the disciples.” Vision blends Creekside’s Creekside Elders Team goes the biblical mandate with on a retreat to review the 2015/2016 the dynamic context of the information from these three goals is to: congregation. “Mission never sources and to prayerfully changes but vision does.” identify key growth areas Increase the “Our mission statement is and goals. Staff members effectiveness a short, easily remembered, then take the larger goals and of reaching lost declaration, FOLLOW develop a Ministry Action people so that JESUS. LOVE GOD. LOVE Plan (MAP) for the year 8% of Creekside that includes strategies and PEOPLE.” To reinforce the attendees mission, Ken teaches it from a budget for their area of describe the pulpit, they post it in their responsibility. themselves in a facility, and Creekside has “Our goals are presented November 2016 at our June Church Family T-shirts emblazoned with church survey Meeting along with all the those words. MAPS submitted by the According to Ken, Creekside as never having ministry leaders (pastors and articulates their vision accepted Jesus directors). The MAPs are differently than most churches. as their sin “We do not have a standard forgiver and life voted on by the members,” says Ken. vision statement. Instead, leader. Goals are regularly we annually decide on goals As a result of reviewed by the leadership for the coming ministry year their efforts, team to ensure they are on (September through August).” target. Objectives are also they hope that: To develop the annual goals, evaluated at the end of each the elder team prayerfully and By the end of ministry year. The leadership strategically examines three August 2016, team celebrates goals that elements that indicate church 75 more people were met or exceeded and health: story, statistics, and mark their faith examines why they fell short survey. STORY refers to testimonies in Jesus through on other objectives. “Because our goals come water baptisms. from individuals and leaders out of a significant amount in the church community. of congregational input and “[The stories] articulate where broad based interaction, there is a natural we have done well and where we need adoption [by the congregation].” Ken to do better.” Ken adds, “While they are admits that his team could be clearer at anecdotal, they are highly valued and communicating goals and progress to the become a part of the mix of what we use broader congregation during the ministry to determine the health of the church.” year. Ken is considering translating the STATISTICS Creekside leaders goals into prayer requests and posting measure things like attendance in every them on the church’s prayer wall, or area of the church, money given, and sending them out by email. baptisms. This information is collated and compared to statistics over the past Ministry Application: Gather input three years. The document is updated from the congregation and prayerfully at the beginning of each month and is set goals. Broadly measure whether you evaluated at every elders’ team meeting. are meeting your objectives. Keep your SURVEY “Every other year, we carve church updated on goals and progress. Celebrate success and take corrective out 15 minutes in our Sunday morning action when objectives are not met. ■ services and have the congregation
VISION MINISTRIES CANADA More Flourishing Effective Churches
Board of Directors David Knight, Waterloo, ON Ken Taylor, Heidleberg, ON Binghai Zeng, Toronto, ON Rosemary Gaunt, Victoria, BC Trevor James, Edmonton, AB Graeme Higgs, Halifax, NS Bill Hillis, Waterloo, ON Staff Gord Martin, Jay Gurnett, Henrietta Koenig, Doug Loveday, John Riley, Indiana Salai Cungcin, Mark Anderson, Mike Stone, Gary Allen, Deb Cavan, Paul Fletcher, Pernell Goodyear, Steve MacDouell 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: email@example.com www.vision-ministries.org Thinking Ahead is published 3 times/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. Subscriptions are free. 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 Design: Audra Noble Reimer Reason Communications THINKING AHEAD // 3
2015 Annual Report Dear Friends of VMC, ou have prayed for us and with us, you have provided financial support, you have been true friends and co-workers! Thank you!! Ministry hi-lights: 1 Churches are reporting that people are coming to faith, being baptized, and that church members are finding our Lord faithful in all things 2 Churches are beginning to collaborate to plant churches—nationally and regionally like never before 3 At our first Thinking Shrewdly National Consultation in Waterloo last May, 75 church leaders affirmed our vision and sharpened our strategy 4 Forty-eight people from our network participated in the Church Planting Canada conference in Montreal in October 5 Seven new church planting projects were launched from coast to coast in 2015 6 New VMC Executive Director, Mike Stone, started January 4th, 2016 7 A most encouraging year-end report from Vision Ministries Kenya including news that in 2015, 21 churches joined their network, seven churches were planted, and two church buildings were completed. DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT AT vision-ministries.org/international/about-2/ God has supplied our needs. We have finished the months of December and June (year end and fiscal year end) in the black every year for the past four years. Gord Martin Outgoing VMC Executive Director
General contributions Conference, event fees and other Investment income Total VMC Fund Revenue
fter four months of discernment and another four months of wrapping up at ForestView Church, I jumped into my new VMC role in January. While sentimental about my years of pastoring at ForestView, I’m energized by the challenges and opportunities at the heart of VMC’s mission. I’m encouraged by present signs of God’s goodness across our network and inspired by hints of what God might have for us next. I have seen the grace of God in 2015, through old friends who helped me discern the Spirit’s nudging in my life and through new friends who have welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts. Mike Stone VMC Executive Director
Audited, Year Ended June 30
362,197 84,187 9,322 455,706
316,924 108,359 33,617 458,900
7% 24% 69%
5% 5% 74%
Salaries and benefits 318,146 318,912 Travel 20,905 26,531 Leadership development and conferences 21,885 36,902 Newsletter “Thinking Ahead” 12,061 10,620 Administrative and office expenses 57,599 54,819 Total VMC Fund Expenses 430,596 447,784 Excess of revenue over expenses 25,110 11,116
Project Funds VMC Church Plants Vision Ministries Kenya
Total VMC Project funds disbursed 1,158,294 784,907
4 // THINKING AHEAD
8% 6% 71%
Moving the Mission Forward (MMF) Regional T
he vision for what VMC calls MMF Regional, is to see churches within a region collaborate on projects that they probably would not notice and could not accomplish on their own. We’ve identified eleven regions, as well as, five cultural and one ministry affinity groups. Under the direction of regional network and affinity group leaders, church leaders are gathering periodically to encourage each other, pray together, and lay groundwork for collaborative missional initiatives. These regional groupings are still at the early stages of development. Conversations are taking place among pastors but still need to extend to leadership team dialogues. In geographically dispersed regions like Central-East Ontario and Atlantic Canada, it takes significant commitment for leaders to meet in person. There is a good spirit of cooperation and vision among Atlantic leaders from Halifax, Dartmouth, and Charlottetown, PEI. Though there were originally two separate groups for Quebec—one English-speaking and one Frenchspeaking—leaders share a passion to reach this province with fewer churches and devoted Christians than elsewhere in the country. As a result, those two groups gather as one bilingual network. In the GTA Region (centered around Toronto), about 20 area pastors and leaders from diverse ethnic backgrounds and ministry contexts find common ground as they pray for and encourage one another at regular meetings. Leaders in the Kitchener-Waterloo & Guelph Region include “value-added”
talks at their meetings on topics like how to improve their preaching, and how to conduct funeral services for people you’ve never met! The ever-present challenge is to take action not just talk about it. As a tangible commitment to advancing God’s kingdom, congregations in the Alberta (North) Region have already put money in the bank to fund a future church plant in their region. And things are starting to move in British Columbia, Southern Alberta, Winnipeg, Southwestern/London Ontario, Barrie/Orillia Ontario. To get in on the MMF action, contact the Network Leader in your region. AFFINITY GROUPS Eritrean & Ethiopian Yonatan Hiruy, Toronto firstname.lastname@example.org Chin (Burma/Myanmar) Indy Cungcin, Winnipeg email@example.com Mandarin Ming Peng Gong, Toronto firstname.lastname@example.org Congolese Amani Katanga, Ajax email@example.com Persian (Iran) Siamak Shafti-Keramat, Toronto firstname.lastname@example.org Chaplains Rob Heintz, Cambridge email@example.com
REGIONS Alberta (North) Wayne Tomalty, Carmel Bible School, Edmonton firstname.lastname@example.org Alberta (South) Keith Shields, Bow Valley Christian Church, Calgary email@example.com Allan Burney, Millarville Community Church, Millarville firstname.lastname@example.org Winnipeg, MB Gavin Hall, Charleswood Community Church email@example.com London/Southwestern, ON Pernell Goodyear, Hillside Church firstname.lastname@example.org Kitchener/Waterloo/Guelph, ON Mike Zenker, Hope Fellowship, Waterloo email@example.com Toronto, ON Matt Craig, Don Valley Bible Chapel, Toronto firstname.lastname@example.org Yonatan Hiruy, Mt Zion Worship Centre, Toronto email@example.com Barrie/Orillia, ON Chris Atkinson, Pinewoods Chapel, Angus firstname.lastname@example.org Peterborough, ON Ben Peltz, Auburn Bible Chapel, Peterborough email@example.com Quebec (English speaking) Jeff Simunic, Westview Bible Church, Montreal firstname.lastname@example.org Quebec (French speaking) Jonathan Montplaisir, Assemblée Chrétienne de Shawinigan email@example.com Atlantic Canada Doug Loveday firstname.lastname@example.org
THINKING AHEAD // 5
Creating a Culture of Invitation Following the successful release of the Alpha Youth Film Series in 2013, 60,000 teens in Canada participated in an Alpha course. A new series, produced primarily for young adults, is due to be released this spring. Shaila can relate to the spiritual struggle that many young adults experience. Although she was raised in a church in rural Ontario where faith was lived out by the adults around her, she drifted during university as she tried to fit in and make friends. Shaila did not meet another Christian until she entered her final year. In 1999, Shaila had graduated and was employed by Women in Leadership when she began using an Alpha course to help people in workplaces find Christ. Alpha International hired her in 2006, to head up Alpha in the Workplace. “My life’s effort is to help people know Jesus,” she says. “I just tried to find the most effective way to do that, and I happened to stumble into Alpha. Over the years, Alpha has been able to offer new tools, and it has continued to be effective.” ■
Shaila Visser, National Director of Alpha Canada, is a member of Granville Chapel in Vancouver, a church that has been good friends of VMC for many years.
BY CLAUDIA VAN RIESEN
love the church community I’m involved with because people are trying to be ‘on mission’, out where God has them,” says Shaila Visser, who serves as National Director of Alpha Canada and considers Granville Chapel in Vancouver her home church. One of the ways the congregation reaches out to its neighbours is by holding two Alpha courses every year. “Whether 10 or 12 people meet up in a home, or 30 or 40 get together at the church, during every Alpha course there are Alpha Launching New people who come to faith, or take the next step toward God. It Young Adult Film Series has been hugely successful.” Alpha is in the midst of Alpha Canada encourages creating a new series of churches to create “a culture videos that will cover the original Alpha material, of invitation” and to provide a exploring the basics safe place where anyone can ask of the Christian faith questions about life, faith, and God. Since 1998, about 650,000 in an engaging and relevant way for the next Canadians have participated in generation. The series, Alpha courses. geared toward young “The number one reason adults, will feature stories people come to an Alpha course from all around the world is that someone personally with men and women from invited them,” Shaila explains. a variety of ethnicities and Through the years, Alpha locations. Filming began has provided training and in the summer of 2015 in updated tools for groups that Vancouver, BC and since want to offer its courses. In then the production team addition to churches and homes, has travelled to the UK, courses have been held in France, India, Hong Kong community centres, schools and and Israel. Currently in restaurants—any place where production, the series will be available for free people can easily gather to eat, online in Spring 2016. watch a video, and talk. 6 // THINKING AHEAD
Alpha Film Series presenters Toby Flint (curate of Holy Trinity Brompton in London) and Gemma Hunt (BBC children’s television personality) filming on location in London, England.
VMC NEWS PAGE
Pastor Stephen Weenink got creative to help raise funds for Syrian refugees. People from his congregation at Elmvale Community Church redid the roof on his house. Stephen and his wife then donated the difference between doing the job themselves and what they would have paid roofers.
Vancouver Churches Take Action to Help Syrian Refugees
THINKING SHREWDLY CONSULTATION FOR CHURCH LEADERS
Granville Chapel and Morning Star, in Vancouver are pressing forward in their drive to welcome Syrian refugees. They have applied through Mennonite Central Committee for the sponsorship of three Syrian Armenian (thus Christian) refugee families. A total of $76,000 has been raised and a strong core team of ten are tackling the logistics. The refugees will arrive within the next few months. Various places are being offered for accommodation and the money raised will be used for rent and food for the first year. We are very excited that this is becoming a reality and look forward to all that God will do in us and through us in this adventure! Andy Perrett, Pastor, Granville Chapel
Friday, April 29th at 9:00am to Saturday, April 30th, 2016 at 1:30pm Lincoln Road Chapel, Waterloo, ON.
Trainers needed for Kenya missions trip We are looking for experienced trainers for a missions trip to Kenya August 11 – 23, 2016 • Children’s ministry, 1 • Women’s Ministry, 1
• Youth Ministry, 1 • Pastors and elder, 1 – 4
Participants will have to raise funds to cover costs. If you are interested, please contact email@example.com
At the end of April, church leaders from the Vision Ministries Canada Network will gather in Waterloo to connect with other church leaders, participate in peer learning forums and imagine fresh ways to partner together in the pursuit of kingdom mission. Featured Speakers Randy Hein—Hollydene Community Church, Victoria, BC David Ralph—Lakeside Church, Guelph, ON Peer Learning Forums More than 40 different conversations catalyzed by brief ‘expert’ presentations, designed around 4 themes: • Spiritual Formation, • Church Ministry, • Mission Methodology and • Focus on Particular Communities Register on the Vision Ministries Canada website vision-ministries.org/resources/ events/ Further Information: 877-509-5060 Ext. 324 Registration fee includes 2 lunches, supper, evening reception and 4 coffee breaks. $149 by April 1st $199 after April 1st (+$75 for spouse) Travel subsidies available: $450 (BC), $400 (Prairies), $300 (Maritimes) and $200 (QC).
NEW! Follow VMC on Twitter @vision_min_can Steve MacDouell is responsible for representing VMC online (Twitter and Facebook presently.) With a good deal of social networking experience, Steve is active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other Web 2.0 platforms. Steve also serves as Associate Pastor at Hillside Church in London, ON.
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Giving Yourself Away
A Profile on VMC’s New Executive Director, Mike Stone
hough he prayed a salvation prayer at eight years old, it wasn’t until he was in his late teens that Mike Stone experienced God’s transforming power. In his final years of high school, Mike realized that he had been spending all his time, energy, gifting, and resources on himself. Yearning for something more, he was ready when George Verwer, Founder of Operation Mobilization, issued a challenge at a youth gathering at his church. “I was out of my seat faster than a jack rabbit. It was like the Spirit of God yanked me to my feet.” Standing for prayer at Devine Street Gospel Chapel in Sarnia, Ontario, Mike told God, “wherever, whatever, whenever for you.” Later, this general willingness to serve solidified into a specific call to be a fulltime pastor. Mike was studying graphic arts management at Ryerson University, anticipating a business career, when God changed his direction to attend what is now Tyndale University College and Seminary. After Bible college, Mike was a youth pastor at Devine Street and later an associate pastor at Simcoe Gospel Chapel, where he was mentored by Paul Fletcher. For the past nineteen years, he was the senior pastor at ForestView Church in Oakville, Ontario. Then in 2015, Mike responded to God’s call to became the new Executive Director at Vision Ministries Canada. No stranger to VMC, Mike began attending gatherings back in the 1980s hosted by Gord Martin, Dave McClurkin,
Paul Fletcher (plus a few others), who were encouraging a new generation of leaders to “imagine church and mission in fresh ways.” Mike has volunteered with various VMC projects and served on the board for seven years. A few years ago, he was seconded by ForestView one day per week to launch the VMC Moving the Mission Forward initiative. Mike says this new role is a good fit for his passions and calling because he likes, “all things mission; and assisting groups of people to pay attention to what God is doing and then discern how to participate with him.” He also doesn’t mind risk and likes change. When asked about his strengths, Mike says, “I like pulling together people who are thinking similar things and trying to form collaborative partnerships. I like dreaming, reimagining, and visioning.” He also enjoys “being with people and being attentive to what God is doing in their lives,” public communication, “theological exploration,” and getting people excited about an idea. He says he can also be strategic. “I enjoy catalyzing new things—leading initiatives from concept to reality.” Mike’s affinity with the VMC team also drew him to the role. “My relationships with Gord and Jay inspire and energize me. Their willingness to sacrifice—whether it’s financially, or time, or their resources— they make everything available to the Lord because they care about the mission…That’s the type of team I want to be engaged with.” Though he and Sharon will continue to attend ForestView, Mike says he will miss teaching in the context of community. “The older I get, I realize it’s all about relationships. People know whether your words are
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Mike Stone’s Desire for Vision Ministries Canada So often as churches we spend all our energy trying to perpetuate congregational existence rather than finding a way to participate in what God is up to in the world. I am moved by the Jerusalem church in Acts 15. They made a gutsy call to include Gentiles. This church gave life away in order to participate in the greater thing that God was doing, even though it meant losing prestige and influence, for the sake of mission and kingdom. The outcome is huge—it blessed the Gentile world and opened the door for all of us to know Christ. I think that is what the church is constantly called to do—give life away, and not to worry about itself. I pray that God would help us identify what he is up to, and that we will have the courage and boldness to step into that no matter what the cost—because there is always a cost. authentic or not when they watch you live.” Mike and his wife Sharon celebrate 30 years of marriage this May. “I have been loved by God through our relationship— deeply.” He says Sharon has taught him to listen empathetically and that “people are the mission.” He has also learned from his three adult children—Aaron, Natalie and Matthew (who passed away in 2014). Leading the VMC team, Mike is looking forward to, “Thinking together about what the church should be in an ever-changing world.” ■
The Newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada: More and Better Churches.