Bible Study

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Greenhouse in Toronto seems to have gone underground for awhile, but that doesn't mean nothing's going on. A lot of the members are engaging in various projects throughout the city, but are keeping the conversation alive on the sidelines.

That said, if there are any out there interested in starting a Study of biblical themes surrounding planting (seeds, fields, tilling, compost, fertilization) please let me know. I would love to discuss how these themes relate our current ecological situation, and are intricately tied into our processes when planting a church.


Vital Church Planting

Friday, March 02, 2007

This week I had the privilege of attending what was certainly an exciting first for the Anglican Church here in Canada. The Vital Church Planting Conference, hosted by Bishop Colin Johnson of the Toronto Diocese, and Doctor John Bowen of the Wycliffe College Institute of Evangelism, spanned three days from Tuesday through Thursday.

Let me point out first that this was an incredibly historic occasion, demonstrating the burgeoning desire for church planting to become an integral part of the church's mission here in Canada. We've heard for some time of the great things going on with Fresh Expressions UK, and so it was nice to see an initial show of interest here in Canada.

Nearly 60 people participated, most of whom, Anglican clergy, and we were addressed by Glenn Gibson (Outreach Canada), Canon Victoria Heard (Diocese of Dallas), and George Lings of the Church Army's Sheffield Centre in England. George was ill, but sent on his lectures in written form, delivered by Dr. Bowen.

One of the coolest things for me was seeing members of the Anglican clergy, and especially bishops, in workshops and lectures reflecting on the possibility of church planting, and giving a real go of it. They were all highly engaged in the conference over its three days, were asking questions, seeking to learn more, and reflecting an active desire to, in time, become a denomination with a church planting culture.

A very exciting prospect indeed. Hopefully some of their prospective planters will join with us in the coming weeks and months to engage in more conversation around the topic of planting, right here in Toronto.

We'll meet again on Monday March 12th at my house. Directions will be sent out on the yahoogroup.


Monday's Meeting

Friday, February 09, 2007

Just a quick note to say that Monday's meeting has been changed to our home for this week. It might be easier to have some conversation in the confort of a living room. Check the yahoohroup for exact directions or email me.

We'll make coffee and tea - tho you may feel free to bring snacks if you wish.


Eight Strong

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It was really great to have eight(!) people out at The Rhino last night. Sometimes it's just good to get together and chat about the Kingdom. I know that I sure benefitted a lot from the discussion, the resources pointed out, and just hearing each others' stories of where they've come from and where they think they might be headed.

Church Planting. Intentional Community. Moving Across the World.

We're in all different situations, and yet I find it great to come together and talk about all of these things together, to share our hopes and dreams, and to encourage each other in pursuing those things that God has given us to do.

I suggest that our group, and this yahoogroup are good places to throw out ideas, bounce them off of others, and to be held accountable for those projects that we say we want to follow up on, especially when talking about developing new forms of church.

Naomi pointed out a thought-provoking resource (, and there was brief mention of the Evolving Church Conference featuring Ron Sider (Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger), Shane Claiborne (Irresistable Revolution), and Jim Wallis (God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It). Should be a good lineup full of challenge and insight.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear more from you, about what's going on, and would love to pray for those let me know what's going on.

See you in a month!

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Why YOU Should Plant a Church

Friday, January 05, 2007

From Bob Hyatt's Blog, a great article outlining some of the struggles and joys of being someone called to plant a church. Bob is a planter of the Evergreen Community in Portland, Oregon.

In the early days of our church planting adventure I spent some time seeking out other church planters, hoping for some wisdom and encouragement. Man, did I get a wake up call.

There seem to be two distinct schools of thought in the church planting community. The first is “This is hard. Are you sure you want to do this? You don’t look like you’ve got what it takes… I’m not so sure you should do this! Have you prayed about it?”

Gee… thanks.

The second school of thought starts off sounding much like the first, but then takes a dramatic turn: “This is hard. What do you need? How can I help you? Man, what an adventure! Let me pray for you.”

Do you hear the difference?

The sad truth is I heard a whole lot more of the first than I did of the second. To be honest, it was discouraging to hear such defeatist talk from those on the front lines of the revitalization and renewal of the church- church planters themselves.


Let’s just put it out there. You have to be a certain type of personality to jump ship from the institution, the known, the safe and head off into the uncharted waters of church planting. It’s not for everyone… and for the A-type personalities who often make up the ranks of those who have jumped, those who are sailing those uncharted waters, when we see others getting ready to do the same, a common first impulse may be to wonder who they think they are… don’t they know that this church planting thing is for the few, the proud, the best of the best? And since we’re doing this different, emergent-type thing… we really don’t need more competition, do we?

Better to weed out the weak.

I actually had church planters tell me disdainfully that church planting was the “sexy” new thing and I better think twice before I just jumped on the bandwagon. I was “assessed” in a 45 minute conversation and found lacking.

It’s a good thing I didn’t listen to the discouraging talk of the A-type personalities I encountered… that I felt called to do this, that I realized that God loves it when people step out in faith and start new churches… and it’s a good thing I remembered that this is kingdom, not competition.


It makes sense to weed out the weak when you start with the basic assumption that no one should step out and plant a church unless specifically instructed to by God and unless they have “what it takes.” I like to approach it from a different viewpoint.

Why shouldn’t you plant a church?

Most people when asking themselves that question usually come up with three common reasons…fear, finances and failure.

Fear? Is it scary? Yes, of course it is. But for me, a turning point was realizing that I had never really done anything in my life that required actual faith. Yes, I had picked up and moved to Europe for two years. Did that require faith? I had a great salary waiting for me, a church community to integrate me, and the knowledge that if it didn’t work out, I could always just find something else to fall back on. Faith? Sort of, but not really.

I came to the point in considering church planting where I realized that I simply didn’t want to get to 70 and look back never having taken an actual step of faith… never having started something, never having begun a journey whose end I could not clearly see from the beginning. I didn’t want the regret of not having taken a shot at a dream of mine.

Finances? Sure- that was a consideration. When we decided to plant the church we had just bought a house and gotten pregnant. I knew that looking back this was either going to seem like a great step of faith or a complete lack of common sense. I suppose the jury is still out on that…

But we had to decide, my wife and I, that if taking this step cost us our house, set us back financially… that simply wasn’t too big a price to pay for God’s kingdom. If we did what we felt we needed to do, and there were financial costs, so be it. We’d rather see people come into relationship with God than have a house. We’d rather see those who have given up on church find community again than have a new car. We had to ask ourselves “What is the absolute worst thing that could happen if we do this?” And when we really started looking at it, it just didn’t seem like that big a deal.

Failure? In a conversation with a good friend on the day we decided to plant this church, he asked me a great question: How will you define failure? I realized through our talk that failure wasn’t if we did this and had to close the doors in a year because not many people showed up and we couldn’t pay the bills. Failure would be if we failed to love the people God did bring us, if we failed to love each other in community, if we failed to feed, clothe and otherwise care for anyone. That would be failure… not if we simply failed to achieve any type of long term momentum and institutional stability.

I realized that for me personally, failure would be if I didn’t even try.

If you do this might you fail? I guess it depends on how you define failure. They say 80% of church plants fail. I don’t know about that… all I can say is that I think that many church plants that seem to be failures by the standard of “Did they make it?” were probably great adventures for many involved, probably introduced people to Christ and probably made a practical difference in the lives of some people who really needed those small, “failing” churches.

I think that the biggest failures in the church planting world aren’t the ones who function as a community for 1, 2 or 5 years and then disband to go do something else. I think the biggest failures in the church planting world are the churches that never even get started, for whatever reason- whether because of fear, because of lack of encouragement or simply because no one asked “Well, why shouldn’t we?”


All this has left me at a place where I really want to encourage those who are at the end of their rope, banging their head against the institutional wall, feeling like those they really love and want to see introduced to Christ are beyond the reach of modernistic, institutional churches.

You can do this.

It’s not rocket science.

Through my experience in church planting I have learned that there’s a hard way to do this and an easy way. The hard way involves plans and proposals, hundreds of thousands in seed money, denominational strings and a host of headaches. “Start with a bang!” they will tell you. “Mailers to every home in three zip codes!” they will advise you. A full band! Complete children’s ministry! Advertising!!!!

Don’t listen.

Start small. Raise some support, trust God for the rest and get a job at Starbucks if need be. Let your community be what it will be. Refuse to do for the people who come the ministry that they should do for themselves. Concentrate on laying a foundation of community and common core values and let your church grow organically without superimposing a grand “vision” on it.

When we were still in the dream phase of this thing people would ask me- “What will it look like?” I grew to love answering “I have no earthly idea.” All I could say was that if a bunch of cloggers and bluegrass musicians showed up, well… we’d be the clogging church. If a bunch of skate punks showed up, we’d be the skate church. I wasn’t out to niche target-market our community, and so felt great freedom to just sit back and watch what happened. I still feel that freedom…

Like I said, it’s not rocket science. You can do this thing. Just look at the guys Jesus started with…


No- not everyone should plant a church. Not everyone is called, gifted or able… but just the fact that you’re thinking about it says something. Just the fact that you want to tells me a lot. And if you actually step out and do it? Well… that says volumes about you, about your courage and about your faith in the God who is advancing His kingdom all around this world.

The question isn’t “Why should I plant a church”… it’s why shouldn’t you! Here’s what I know: God loves it when His people take a step of faith. He will go ahead of you, with you and behind you in this adventure. If you love those He brings you, you will be a success whether it lasts for a year, two years or the rest of your life.

So go ahead- take the leap. Plant a church! And let me know how I can help.



Monday's Meetin'

Thursday, January 04, 2007

We're meeting at the Rhino (1249 Queen Street West) at 7pm on January 8th. Hope to see everyone there for some good conversations on where God is leading you in your service here in Toronto!



January Meeting

Monday, December 11, 2006

We'll be getting together on Monday January 8, 2007 somewhere in Parkdale (TBA). More details to follow in early January. Hope people are able to make it out!