I am very grateful to the Lord for a wonderful gathering on August 13 – 14 that Church Health and Planting (CHAP West) hosted. The gathering was a purpose focused time that was led by Craig Van Gelder, the author of The Ministry of the Missional Church (please, please, not to be confused with the emerging church, neighbourhood church, Sue, Tom, Dick, or Harry’s church). Just missional. We began in the scriptures, we prayed, we talked, re-engaged each other and looked and planned around how we could deepen our resources provided to churches.
Ken Thiessen (Ken Nettleton, Howard Lawrence, Brian Stelck and Shelby Gregg) hosted us. I have asked Ken to respond to questions about the time and it follows below.
Who / What is CHAP WEST in the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada and what does it do?
CHAP West consists of myself as chair, with Howard Lawrence, Ken Nettleton and the three regional Church Health and Planting coordinators joining me as members of this group. The mandate of CHAP West is outlined as follows:
Leading the planting and establishing of missional churches in Canadian Baptists of Western Canada.
Develop a strategic system of missional church multiplication that will enable us to establish a growth.
Who are the regional coordinators?
Joell Haugan (Community Baptist, Swift Current) coordinates the Heartland Region. Joining Joell on the Heartland CHAP are Mark Doerksen (Willowlake, Winnipeg) and Gary St. Amand (Flin Flon)
Steven MacCuaig (FBC, Lacombe) coordinates the Alberta Region. Joining Steven on the Alberta CHAP are John Huh (Calgary), Alan McPhedran (Fort Saskatchewan)
Laura Nelson has been coordinating the BC/Yukon Region but will probably be transitioning out because of personal time constraints. We will begin the process shortly of finding a replacement for Laura.
Why did you initiate the gathering?
The term “missional” has generated a variety of responses, fear, confusion, resistance and excitement (and probably a host of others as well). Last December Sam Chaise (William Carey Institute) convened a gathering of denominational leaders and pastors to discuss the issue more fully. Subsequent to that CHAP West engaged a dialogue process with Executive Staff and Carey Faculty in an effort to ensure that these key partners were “tracking together” as it relates to the missional conversation. Recognizing that we had an opportunity to more adequately resource our churches we began exploring a consulting model whereby we would equip individuals within our regions who might be available to assist churches to more clearly understand God’s call to them and how they might live out that call in a more focused and strategic way. Craig Van Gelder’s was presented to us as someone who had experience equipping denominations in this regard, so we contacted him and he agreed to facilitate this first part of the process
What occurred and what are the things that we are experiencing as we move forward?
Craig’s focus was specifically on the church health and planting component of the ministry we do together and in that regard he asked us to identify strengths and weaknesses (internal to the organization), and opportunities and threats (external to the organization). These were then categorized under broader themes. He then asked us to consider two questions: “What is God up to?” and, “What does God want to do?” The balance of our time was spent working in small groups identifying and outlining what a consulting system that might look like for us as Canadian Baptists in Western Canada.
Most compelling was the synergy that emerged and the overwhelming desire to see strategic alignment among all of our key stakeholders and missional networks as we seek to effectively resource our churches. Significant strategic alignment is already present between Executive Staff, Carey Theological and CHAP West, so there is an existing momentum that is building. It was agreed that a sub group would synthesize the data together with Craig, draft a consulting proposal that would be circulated to all event participants for further input and then presented to Executive Staff for discussion and approval. It is anticipated that Executive Staff will have a more formalized consulting proposal by early September. At the end of our two days together there was a collective sense that God had truly been present with us and that his Spirit had been guiding us. We anticipate what the future holds as we continue to discern what God wants to do among us and through us as Canadian Baptists of Western Canada