Tom Lavigne is an inspired and wonderfully energetic leader of our church-planting group. Tom came
to faith as a young adult after a short stint in the army and as a prison guard (I’ve always maintained
that Tom’s professional background and Craig Smith’s calling as a meat cutter for demand stores, were
perfect preparations for Director of Church Planting and Professor of Theology, respectfully…more
on that later…maybe not). Tom has pastored in a variety of contexts, most recently Prince George, as
Director of Church Planting over the last 3 years, and has engaged in 3 particular things that are most
helpful. First, he has inspired people to wait on God to discern what the possibilities are for starting
a new church where many thought the opportunity was gone. Secondly, he is the most expansive
representation of bringing people together, different ages, a wide variety of skills and a broad variety
of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Thirdly, Tom has patiently (Roy Bell once described the Scottish
preacher George Duncan as someone who was like an “old poacher, able to lure a fish out from under a
rock”) waited on God and much longer on other people to partner in new church starts and affiliations.
Over the last three years, Tom has encouraged and nurtured well over three-dozen new starts and
small groups ready to start in Western Canada. He is a remarkable individual who holds together a “holy
restlessness” which I respect, admire and honour. Tom is great fun and a good friend to many; I feel
privileged that he calls the CBWC his home and has been willing to encourage us in church planting.
1. Many folk have different personal, vocational, and faith journeys…could you share with us those
My parents come from a French/Irish Catholic background on one side and an English/Scots non-church
background on the other. Over the years my faith heritage has included Catholic, pagan, Pentecostal and
Baptist–making me a Romapaganbapticostal—and as one friend said recently, “Tom, you were made for
church planting.” Prior to and for a short while after coming to faith at the age of 25, I was involved in
the business world, which included oilfield accounting, purchasing, human resources, self-employment,
office equipment sales/leasing, and Financial Trust Co. Over the past 21 years of ministry I’ve been
involved in church planting, counselling ministry, a crisis pregnancy centre, and street ministries. I enjoy
using the entrepreneurial spirit God has placed within me. I’ve served on the staff of the Christian Life
Centre in Fort St. John, Peace Community Church in Taylor and First Baptist Church in Prince George.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of travelling for educational purposes to Israel, England, Ireland and
Lebanon, giving me a further appreciation and passion for sharing the gospel in a rapidly changing multi-
2. How long have you been in this position? Please let us know about where you are living and maybe
one eccentric detail of life?
I’ve served our churches as the Director of Church Planting since August of 2009. Currently, my wife,
Chris and I reside in Burnaby, BC, and are a part of Southside Community Church. I’m a passionate
reader, skydiver, and philanthropic lover of Jesus.
3. What is the basic makeup and description of what you do?
As the Director of Church Planting I’m involved in the life of church planters, prospective church planters
and churches through prayer, promotion, partnerships and helping groups through the process of
establishing themselves as communities of faith within the CBWC family.
4. Who are the people that you primarily serve and how do you connect with them?
I’m involved with helping prospective church planters discern God’s direction and timing for beginning
new churches; helping existing church plants through the process of government and denominational
affiliation; and connecting with churches who are considering planting new churches and congregations.
5. What have been the challenging parts of this last twelve months?
In this context, we are dealing with on-going issues of government regulation, liability and governance
for new church plants, and helping our existing churches shift their focus from survival, attendance,
buildings, and cash flow to investing in outreach and kingdom growth.
6. What have been some of the times of celebration over these last twelve months?
The greatest joys and celebrations have included seeing potential church planters have the ‘ah ha’
moment when they either accept the great challenge of church planting or decide this is not for them
(at this time); rejoicing in welcoming new churches from Prince George, Sidney, Calgary, Vancouver,
Edmonton; celebrating the launching of the church plant in Mill Bay; and encouraging potential church
plants in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Hughendon, Wainwright, Williams Lake, Surrey, Neepawa,
Calgary, and Burnaby. One of great privileges I have is seeing a bit of a birds-eye view of some of the
amazing things God is up to.
7. What are some of the things you have felt were accomplishments this year and what are some of
the on-going challenges that you will face as you go into the fall?
(Expressed in #5 and #6)
8. Apart from Executive Staff, who are some of the people that you work most closely with month
I’m greatly aided in this process through the work of Assistant to the Director of Church Planting, Cailey
Bennett, our Regional Ministers and Administrative Assistants, and our Church Planting Advisory Team
led by Pastor Joell Haugan.
9. What kind of Sabbath and renewal and break are you going to experience over the summer? For
Over the summer Chris and I will be enjoying the sunshine of the Okanagan; travelling for a few days to
explore Seattle—Mariners vs Blue Jays tickets in hand— and spending time camping with our son and
daughter-in-law on Whidbey Island where I hope to regain my ‘Wizard’ cards championship. We have
lots of books to be read, trails to hike and local cuisine to be savoured over our three weeks away.
10. How might we pray for you?
Please pray for wisdom and discernment, compassion and patience, rest and renewal. Thank you for
11. Is there some kind of blessing or encouragement that you would like to share with us?
In looking over the rapidly developing and changing landscape of the West, I passionately believe
that the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada are strategically placed to play a significant role in the
kingdom of God! The harvest fields have never been riper, the opportunities greater and the people and
resources more plentiful than as we see right now. I would encourage us to be strong and courageous,
to join the Lord in the harvest and share in the good things God is doing!