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VOL. 20 NO. 1 >> FALL 2016


THINKING AHEAD The Newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada

Fire, Not Fences BY JAY GURNETT


ire not fences—that’s how church planting gurus Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im (in their book Planting Missional Churches), describe the difference between a network and a denomination. They say, “Networks … are built on fire … on passion, purpose, and a common shared, usually simple, vision.”


The Vision Ministries Canada fire has been sparked over and over by the phrase More Flourishing Effective Churches. God seemed to give us these words to remind VMC and its friends to keep the main thing, the main thing. The work has always been about healthy churches providing what was needed to plant more churches. However, a key side effect of that passion is that others have been drawn to the fire. Not only has VMC started new initiatives, we have grown a network of local churches and leaders that share our passion. As the network gradually took the shape of a community, someone reminded me “community without structure or principle is atomistic.” In other words, a group can end up as a bunch of

Fire not Fences New Life in Fresno Moving the Mission Forward on Vancouver Island

disconnected, even antagonistic parts. God had already provided the principle (and words to express it). Then Moving the Mission Forward gave the needed structure. Many of you are aware that about four years ago, a group of (now) 18 churches from across the country, decided to work together as a partnering network. The Moving the Mission Forward (MMF) NATIONAL group listens to one another, prays together, tells stories, helps some “plateaued” churches; and annually sponsors new plants using funds provided by group members. MMF NATIONAL has come alongside 15 new works in the 3 years since its formation, and will almost certainly sponsor 3 or more new ones at its next gathering in early November 2016.

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News & Events A Good News Immigrant Story Mike Stone

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While this good planting work was going on at the national level, the leaders of these churches were also growing in their relationships with one another. Which brings us to MMF REGIONAL. VMC thought (and heard positive feedback when they discussed it with members of the network at national and regional gatherings), that local groups of churches could also plant together, develop relationships among leaders; and perhaps do some group learning. The idea of local partnering networks made sense, since VMC had already, on and off for years, gathered groups of church leaders in geographical groupings across Canada (see a visual representation on pages 4-5). And everyone now knew that churches could be planted by groups of churches. So for about the past year, the regional networks have been gradually morphing into MMF regional partnerships. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2...

Supporting New Life in Fresno, California



s he got up to preach one day at Granville Chapel in Vancouver, Joe White sensed the Lord asking him, “Are you still called to this?” Joe and his wife Heidi were enjoying their successful nine-year ministry as associate pastors at Granville. They lived half a block from the beach and near a ski hill. But after six months of wrestling and several Godincidents, they felt called to move to a high-crime, low-income neighbourhood in Fresno, California. Joe had grown up 5 minutes away from this community of 3500 as the son of urban missionaries. Upon moving to Fresno in February 2015, the Whites set out to meet 400 neighbours in the first year and to discern what was important to the community. They said to themselves, “We won’t do Bible studies. We will enter in where the neighborhood is itching.” Joe and Heidi soon discovered that people cared about their local park, community safety, and making their neighbourhood school ( Jackson Elementary) great. “We made these things our agenda,” says Joe. In the first year 20 people became Christians and were baptized. Already in 2016, 15 people have become Christians and about 100 people gather to worship— though not everyone comes every week. Most importantly those who belong to Neighborhood Church are deeply engaged in their community. Joe says that if someone gets an idea, they spearhead the project in their “low control but high accountability” congregation. Joe tells people, “If it fits the vision and the strategy then go for it.” These days there are 20 different missional initiatives happening including

Neighborhood Church in Fresno, California, led by Joe and Heidi White, hosted a fall kick-off event for their community.

Bible studies, reading clubs, and volunteering in classrooms. They do practical things like clean alleys and paint lamp posts that are graffiti targets. Granville Chapel sent Joe and Heidi out as missionaries and although the VMC Moving the Mission Forward National team was unable to help with funding outside of Canada, VMC came alongside the plant. VMC’s Jay Gurnett continues to coach Joe on church planting. “I meet with Jay once per month. He is experienced and helpful—I need someone who has made a lot of mistakes, I don’t need someone [young and inexperienced] like me,” says

Joe. Mark Anderson coaches Joe on his inner life. “It has been awesome…Mark has unlocked a lot of stuff in my life,” says Joe. Neighborhood Church has catalyzed two nonprofits in less than two years— including Jackson house. There are 29 houses in their community that are blighted and abandoned. The church is attempting to buy the worst forgotten house and renovate it for a discipleship program where college students can be trained in urban ministry and church based approaches to community development. “I want that house to be a symbol of what God can do in people’s lives. He takes what is bad and broken and transforms it,” says Joe. ■


The relationships are getting richer. In Victoria and Vancouver (and most everywhere there are MMF gatherings) – people actually appear to like each other. And groups are learning together. MMF Winnipeg sponsored a one-day workshop on Sept 24, 2016, to help members of churches in the network learn how to be “Living Missionally for the Lord”. This isn’t without precedent in VMC history, but it continues to be a good idea for a network that is moving towards working together. And there will be planting. Many regional groups (the folks in Edmonton are further along than most) have begun to put funds 2 // THINKING AHEAD

into a common pot. You can anticipate hearing of a number of new projects over the coming year. And in most cases, VMC suspects that both MMF National and MMF Regional groups will be involved. Vision is pretty sure that MMF isn’t the kind of fence-like structure that sometimes happens when groups formalize. When you see the rigidity of some “organized religion” fences, you can almost sense where a fire used to be. MMF is designed to spread the fire through shared mission, good relationships, and helpful learning. Just the right kind of partnering network. ■

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

Moving the Mission Forward on Vancouver Graduates of the 2015/2016 Auxano Discipleship School at Camp Imadene. Island: Auxano Discipleship School


n the Summer of 2011, after moving from being a Pastor at Lambrick Park Church to taking on the Executive Director role at Camp Imadene, I dreamed of starting a local discipleship school on Vancouver Island, BC. I contacted various pastors around the Island, most from within the VMC network, to see if they would give up time to teach—without pay. Many jumped right on board, and soon, Auxano (Greek for ‘to grow’) was created. Since then, 37 students have spent 8 months each in the Imadene community, learning, studying the Bible, and serving in various churches and locations throughout southwest BC. Another 10 are committed already for September 2016. Auxano has helped Imadene to fulfill its mission of introducing people to Jesus and encouraging Christian growth throughout the year in a greater way, and has built bridges amongst many of our churches/ministries. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and sacrifice of VMC churches on Vancouver Island coming together. Vision Ministries stepped up and helped find additional funding in 2013 to take Auxano to the next level. This is just another example of how VMC communities are able to Move the Mission Forward when they partner together. (even before MMF existed on Vancouver Island!). Andy Renton Executive Director, Camp Imadene

Auxano Discipleship School Graduate Makes an Impact While attending the 8-month Auxano Discipleship School in 2015/2016, 19-year-old Cody Jackson got one step closer to his dream of leading worship at Camp Imadene, just outside Lake Cowichan, BC. A guitar player, Cody, had been wanting to lead worship at the camp since he was sixteen. During Auxano, Cody and fellow students grew closer to God as they engaged with intensive teaching from local pastors and Bible teachers, participated in outreach events, and received mentoring from Auxano staff. To develop his skills as a worship leader, Cody and a team of Auxano students led 60

teens in worship during a fall youth retreat at Camp Imadene. After graduating from Auxano, Cody volunteered for four weeks in Imadene’s summer camp program. His final week, Cody was entrusted with leading 150 teens (16-18) into worship each day. He took his role seriously. “The last chapel of the week at the end of the summer, I was crying. Seeing Cody leading his peers into the presence of God and fulfilling his dream, touched me…He did so well,” says Camp Imadene’s Executive Director and Auxano Founder, Andy Renton. ■

Staff Mike Stone, Gord Martin, Jay Gurnett, Henrietta Koenig, Doug Loveday, Al Rahamut, John Riley, Indiana Salai Cungcin, Mark Anderson, Gary Allen, Deb Cavan, Paul Fletcher, Randy Hein, Gwen Sharp, 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: 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/” Editor: Sandra Reimer Design: Audra Noble Reimer Reason Communications


Vision Ministries Canada’s Network – United

Moving the Mission Forward (MMF) Regions & Leaders British Columbia (Victoria) 6 Churches Mark Anderson VMC Staff British Columbia (Vancouver) 12 churches Mark Anderson VMC Staff

Alberta (North) 10 Churches Wayne Tomalty, Mount Carmel Bible School Edmonton, AB Alberta (South) 10 Churches Doug Pippus, Hope for Life Church, Calgary, AB

Networks Within the Network Chinese Church Network Ming-Peng Gong, Toronto China Bible Church

Farsi-speaking Churches Siamak Keramat Spirit of Truth Church, Toronto, ON

CHIN Christian Fellowship of Canada Indy Cungcin, City Church Winnipeg, MB

French-speaking African Churches Amani Katanga, Viens et Vois la Cité des Merveilles, Toronto, ON

East African Church Planters Yonatan Hiruy Mount Zion Worship Centre Toronto, ON


Chaplain Network Rob Heintz, Chaplain Cambridge, ON

Winnipeg, MB 7 Churches Gavin Hall, Charleswood Community Church Winnipeg, MB

to Expand God’s Kingdom from Sea to Sea Moving the Mission Forward National Partners*

London, ON 10 Churches Pernell Goodyear, Hillside Church London, ON Kitchener/Waterloo/Guelph, ON URBAN – 11 Churches Chris Timm, Guelph Bible Chapel Guelph, ON RURAL – 10 Churches Gary Goodkey, Gorrie Bible Fellowship, Gorrie, ON Toronto, ON 20-24 Churches Matt Craig, Don Valley Bible Chapel, Toronto, ON Yonatan Hiruy, Mt Zion Worship Centre, Toronto, ON Golden Horseshoe, ON 5 Churches Cyril Guerette ForestView Church, Oakville, ON Barrie/Orillia, ON 7 Churches Chris Atkinson, Pinewoods Chapel Peterborough, ON

Assemblee Chretienne de Shawinigan, Shawinigan, PQ Bow Valley Christian Church, Calgary, AB Charleswood Community Church, Winnipeg, MB Creekside Church, Waterloo, ON ForestView Church, Oakville, ON Grace Chapel, Halifax, NS Granville Chapel, Vancouver, BC Hillside Church, London, ON Lakeside Bible Church, Guelph, ON Lambrick Park Church, Victoria, BC Lincoln Road Chapel, Waterloo, ON North Park Community Church, London, ON Spirit of Truth Church, Toronto, ON Toronto China Bible Church, GTA, ON University Chapel, Vancouver, BC Wallenstein Bible Chapel, Wallenstein, ON Westview Bible Church, Pierrefonds, PQ Woodside Bible Fellowship, Elmira, ON *some partnerships are formalized, others in process

Quebec 14 churches Jeff Simunic (English-speaking churches), WestviewChurch, Montreal, PQ Jonathan Montplaisir (French-speaking churches), Assemblée Chrétienne de Shawinigan, Shawinigan, PQ

Halifax, NS 5 Churches Doug Loveday, VMC Staff

Peterborough, ON 7 Churches Ben Peltz, Auburn Bible Chapel Peterborough, ON


VMC News and Events VMC Team Teaches at “Power of Team” Conference in Kenya


eaching is most exciting when there are eager students! Our August VMC teaching team: Doug Loveday, Michael Bells, Diane Goodkey, Aimie LeRuez, Gord Martin and Jean-Paul Tingityabo (DRCongo) thoroughly enjoyed interacting with and teaching 130 receptive Christian leaders. Sessions topics included the power of team, church leadership, marriage, Ephesians, women’s ministry, children’s ministry and holistic mission. After Doug’s presentation on marriage there was a visceral response as people prayed and poured out their hearts in confession, repentance and pleading for renewal of relationships. A hi-light of this year’s event was the participation of delegations from Burundi, South Sudan, Rwanda,

MAKE A GOOD MARRIAGE BETTER. HOPE FOR STRESSED MARRIAGES. Upcoming Marriage Encounter Weekends: Nov 11-13, 2016: Niagara Falls, ON

VMC teaching team that went to Kenya in August. L to R: Michael Bells, Jean-Paul Tingityabo (DRCongo), Gord Martin, Diane Goodkey, Aimie LeRuez, and Doug Loveday.

Tanzania and Uganda. Two of the groups traveled more than 24 hours by bus in order to be with us. All have invited us to come to their countries so that more of their friends and coworkers can benefit from the training that we provided in Nairobi. We visited or spoke in 12 of the 50 Vision Ministries Kenya affiliated churches—all situated in economically challenged communities. I was especially impressed with two brothers who had deliberately started a church in the most crime infested part of Kibera, a notorious Nairobi slum area. They built not only a church, but also a concrete canal to keep sewage from seeping across the hillside, a place for women to wash their clothes with clean water, a kiosk for small businesses, and they installed a huge

crime-exposing light. Not surprisingly, the murders and rapes that area was known for are no longer happening. The morning I spoke at the church, the keyboard was not working. So one of the brothers said, “God has put music in our hands”. They clapped and sang with vigor and joy! We also had the joy of celebrating the dedication of the second of two church buildings VMC raised funds for. It will seat at least 350 people, will house a school, and will be a hub for that entire district as more churches are planted there in the future. Our Kenyan brothers and sisters are full of faith and they certainly know how to celebrate! Please pray with us that VMK will become a strong self-sustaining ministry and network of churches. ■


If you have suggestions for workshop leaders, contact Mike Stone at

Apr 21-23, 2017: Wainfleet, ON Nov 17-19, 2017: Niagara Falls, ON More info at Contact 519-669-8667 or No one will ever be refused for lack of funds.


VMC’s Thinking Shrewdly National Conference April 27-29, 2017 Waterloo, Ontario

We are particularly interested in younger leaders who can share their perspective on leadership, church planting, and ministry.

A choir at the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Chin Christian Fellowship, a network of Chin Churches from across Canada and the US that is led by VMC staff member Indy Cungcin.

The Chin People: A Good News Immigrant Story BY GORD MARTIN


ndy Cungcin was in a refugee camp in Thailand when a missions team from the Maples Community Church in Winnipeg visited the camp and met him. Unable to forget Indy, they arranged to sponsor him to come to Canada. The Chin people, a tribal group from Burma/Myanmar, began to arrive in our cities and neighbourhoods just over 10 years ago. Indy emerged as a Christian leader among them, and he’s helped hundreds of fellow countrymen settle in Canada, especially in Winnipeg where he and his wife, Ceri live. Tim and Sue Nielsen, also of Winnipeg, have worked very closely with Indy. The Chin people have a long history in Christian faith. Ann & Arthur Carson first brought the Gospel to them in the

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early 1900s.When the Chin believers were violently persecuted for their faith in the mid 1970s, Chin believers were forced to flee to neighbouring countries and since have settled in many parts of the world. Those who arrived in Canada established churches in most major cities. Indy came on board part-time with VMC in 2007 and is VMC’s National Coordinator for The Chin Christian Fellowship of Canada (CCFC). CCFC provides leadership training and an annual conference for a network of Chin churches, helping them to stay connected and sustain their relationships. This year the CCFC held their 10th Anniversary Celebration Conference at Lincoln Road Chapel in Waterloo. Over 800 attended, including many young people from all across Canada, along with 100+ from the USA. They had

competitions for choirs, Bible memory, soccer and volleyball! One of their most inspiring preachers, Dr. Stephen Hre Kio of the USA was their main presenter. The Chin people are a good news immigrant story. They have a reputation for being honest, reliable workers and their young people study hard in our high schools and universities. But, they have challenges too. As with all immigrant communities, church leaders are asking, “Will the second generation, who are growing up in secular Canada, remain true to their Saviour?” Please pray that the churches in this network will find ways to extend the Gospel not only to Burmese Buddhists in Canada but also to long time Canadians who need to hear their stories of faith and victory. ■

Vision Ministries Canada is turning 25 in 2017 No one was thinking about celebrating anniversaries when Gord Martin and some friends (with good help from Interest Ministries) were realizing that God was leading them to come alongside church planting, way back when. Anniversary celebrations still seem pretty insignificant compared to the call to be part of expanding God’s kingdom in Canada. But because Canada also has its 150th birthday in 2017, VMC wants to use its birthday for a number of special events across the country that we hope will draw us and our friends and partners even deeper into work that causes celebration in heaven. More details to follow. THINKING AHEAD // 7

The Way Forward BY MIKE STONE

n a recent visit to O Venice, Italy

the challenge of hauling luggage from the Santa Lucia train station to our bed and breakfast on the far side of the city was exacerbated by crowds, canals, and step bridges. Though fellow travelers were gracious, fun soon gave way to fatigue as I led the group down several dead-end alleys. This experience reminded me that every team needs clear direction. Without a good map, time is easily squandered and talent frustrated. Conversely, the potential for impact increases when communal energy is aligned in the same direction. Desiring greater kingdom impact, the VMC team spent early summer discerning our priorities for the year ahead. The Spirit is using conversations that emerged at Thinking Shrewdly 2016 and prayerful deliberation at our annual VMC staff retreat to define the way forward. We will focus our primary energy on the following objectives: Strengthen the Network Much of what we hope to accomplish as a partnering network rests on the quality of our ‘togetherness’. With a fresh resolve to strengthen the network, we will gather the National Moving the Mission Forward (MMF) team in November to review, revise, and improve our approach to collaborative church planting. Our commitment to network has inspired a greater investment in MMF Regional. We have restructured existing regions and are adding new ones. We have crafted a common framework for all gatherings and will provide additional support for regional coordinators. As we talk with churches about formal

partnership with VMC, we will clarify the benefits of belonging and simplify the onramp for joining. Enhance Multiplication Our commitment to enhance multiplication inspired Jay Gurnett to research the latest thinking on church planting and revise VMC’s model for birthing new congregations and coaching the catalysts who start them. Jay usually has several dozen promising initiatives on his radar at any given time. The potential for planting often outstrips our capacity. To address this challenge, we hope to mobilize new coaches, outsource our training to those with greater expertise, and focus on the fifteen to twenty initiatives with the greatest potential. Engage the Next Generation As the VMC team celebrates twentyfive years of God’s blessing in 2017, we are aware that future impact requires cultivating fresh leadership. To help us engage the next generation, Randy Hein (lead pastor of Hollydene Church in Victoria, BC) has agreed to give VMC one day a week to design and guide a formation process for emerging leaders. From the VMC network, we hope to attract young, spiritual entrepreneurs who are passionate about participating in the missio Dei. With an equal emphasis on praxis and theory, learning will be facilitated through residential modules and online interaction. Personal formation will be shaped by the wisdom of mentors and the realities of context. Though leadership development is our primary strategy for reaching the next generation, we hope to deepen our social media presence and refresh the ‘vibe’ of all core communication. Leverage the Power of Story Stories do more than entertain—they stir our emotions, stretch our imaginations, and help us envision new possibilities.


Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to 145 Lincoln Road, Waterloo, ON N2J 2N8 Publications Agreement Number 40016262

Ultimately stories are liveable, inviting us to participate in the unfolding drama. To leverage the power of story, we hope to develop a better system for gathering, cataloguing, and disseminating the best stories from our network. Primary attention will be given to stories that celebrate spiritual awakening, personal transformation, missional impact, and supernatural power. In 2017, as VMC celebrates its 25th anniversary and Canada turns 150 years old, we will also have an opportunity to remember the story of God’s blessing through church and nation. Beyond the priorities of network, multiplication, next generation and story we have identified three additional objectives: • As the ministry of VMC has expanded significantly in recent years, so have the costs—requiring us to find new revenue streams. • Though our focus on church planting and strengthening church leaders will continue, we will invest more strategically in churches that are likely to have a contagious influence so that even more congregations flourish and achieve greater kingdom impact. • Inspired by his entrepreneurial bent and experience cultivating networks in Canada, leaders are looking to Gord Martin for wisdom and support as they develop church networks in their own countries. To participate in what God is already doing, we are committed to help form VMC-like networks internationally. Having listened, prayed, dialogued and prayed again, we believe the Spirit has invited us to be attentive to these seven objectives. We are asking God to protect us from distractions, wrong turns, and dead ends; or to redirect our path if we’re not on the right route. If we’ve discerned well, then we ask Him to keep us focused, persistent, and moving forward. ■

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