Fish Or Cut Bait

fishing-boat-lakeI firmly believe that Baptists in Atlantic Canada should be praying about how to start new congregations and birth fresh expressions of church in our region. There is a need for renewal in many of our struggling congregations and I wonder if some shouldn’t be willing to partner with a stronger church and allow others to help resource their ministries and help breathe new life into tired congregations.

I think it is time for some of the pastors of our larger churches to widen their vision by helping to resource and partner with smaller, struggling churches and form partnerships which will bring strength to the church and glory to God. It is my conviction that if we are going to reach Atlantic Canada with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we must be open to church planting, church partnerships, new congregations, satellite and multi-site churches and spiritual renewal in our congregations.

My fear is that many churches have become introverted, inflexible, aged and, some have lost the vision for how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can impact their community. Some long for the good old days and have nostalgia for past glory and are rapidly headed toward lost visibility and even closure. I don’t believe it is necessary for aging churches to die if they are willing to embrace change and take their Kingdom mandate seriously. Too many congregations are merely surviving and too many are locked in a structure that prevents them from engaging the unchurched.

May God give us the courage to embrace change, to see the possibilities and to lay aside our bent toward self-preservation for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

For too long I have witnessed Pastors and church leaders become jealous of new church plants or of leaders who were expanding the Kingdom of God. I think this is a parochial and narrow view of the Kingdom of God.

Not long ago I attended a meeting of the North American Baptist Fellowship in Falls Church, Virginia. I had the opportunity to hear Leith Anderson again. Leith Anderson retired after serving for 35 years as Senior Pastor of Woodale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Leith spoke at Oasis a number of years back and again at our Evangelism Conference. It was when Leith began to talk about the Church in America that I began to sit up and take notice. I want to share a few thoughts from that talk that I hope will stir up discussion and possibly challenge some of us in Atlantic Canada.

Anderson basically said that Denominations that are not planting churches will not survive. He also said that the Senior Pastors of our churches must be the champions of new congregations and church planting. Woodale Church has planted dozens of churches in the 35 years that Leith served as Senior Pastor giving away some of their best leaders and church members for the sake of expanding the Kingdom of God. Leith went so far as to say that they even helped plant churches in several denominations other than their own Baptist group.

You may not completely agree with everything Leith Anderson says but I am convinced we need to have these important conversations and that we must be praying about what God wants us to do in Atlantic Canada. I am not just talking about starting new congregations from scratch I am talking about replanting dead churches and resurrecting dying churches.

I am convinced there are great opportunities available to the Churches and Associations of the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches. We have a history of revival and church planting, it is in our DNA as a denomination. The question is, what will we do with the opportunities? It is time for us to “fish or cut bait!”

4 Responses to “Fish Or Cut Bait”

Rev. Brian BarronMay 21st, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for your article Peter.
To this day, throughout every generation, Christianity has extended to new areas and new peoples via the multiplication of new churches. You and I are Christians today because those who preceded us faithfully reproduced their churches through church planting and development!
The reality of so many different people groups today deeply calls us to think outside the box and new churches have a kind of life and vitality attractive to the un-churched person. Although there are some common objection to church planting I believe Peter Wagner is right when he said, “Church Planting is the most effective means of evangelism.” I would also add that planting new churches is by far the most cost-effective means of evangelism. You will win more converts at a lower cost through new churches than established congregations. New churches are most effective at reaching un-churched pre-Christians.
As Baptist, it is a continually challenging exercise to learn to see the world from god’s perspective. We are here on the earth for a very short period of time, and we have an incredibly urgent assignment. I believe through this vision and a collaborated effort we can and we will impact Atlantic Canada! We are very much “Stronger Together”!

Grant AlcornMay 21st, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Hello Peter:

Good article. As pastor of a city church that is beginning to turn things around I would welcome a partnership with a larger church.

The people I serve are willing to change and with the help of others a renewed and growing and serving congregation can thrive again. Such a congregation is beginning to show signs of life and growth. One of our new ministries, the EA Cafe, is showing us a way forward to a renewed church serving its communities for the good of the Kingdom of God.

Edith Avenue is a church that is being replanted and we invite others to partner with us.

Rev, Grant Alcorn, Pastor

Grant AlcornMay 27th, 2013 at 8:07 am

Here is an example of the partnership idea between smaller and larger churches, that Dr. Reid is talking about. I have sent this to Saint John Area Churches:

To Saint John Area Churches:

An invitation to Partner in a Friday or Weekend Evening Music Ministry.

The recent blog posting by Executive Minister, Dr. Peter Reid, got me thinking about recent ministry initiatives and plans for new ministry at Edith Avenue Baptist in East Saint John. It is an exciting time for Edith Avenue and we are so thankful to God for what He is doing and calling us to do.

A needed ministry that we need help getting off the ground is an evening Music Jam with a Question and Answer Coffee House type of Music and Arts Night at the church.

I am asking interested musicians sensing a call to such a ministry to contact me at the church.

We are asking fellow believers and followers of Jesus to partner with us to continue the process of renewal that has begun at Edith Avenue Baptist. Help us minister to these communities.

This is an excellent example of a call to a missions project that you can answer right here in the city of Saint John.

Blessings upon you all as we seek to be partners together in building the Kingdom until Christ shall come.

Rev. Grant Alcorn, Pastor, Edith Avenue Baptist

I will leave a parting question if I might. What other partnership ideas are churches considering? May we share a few of them here.

Many thanks

MartinJune 30th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

In response to Grant’s question, at FBC Dartmouth we value community partnership. One of the ways we foster this is by making space available to community organizations with whom we have shared values. Looking at the “booking” calender, over the past several months, the following organizations have used space at FBC for a total of over 365 times:

ADC – Mondays in Metro
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training
Canadian Association of Retired Persons
Canadian Mental Health Association
Celtic Music Festival
Christian Relief and Development Coalition of Dartmouth
Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches
Department of Community Services (Workshop)
Dartmouth High School (30 Hr Famine, Yard Sale, etc)
Dartmouth Minor Football (Destroyers)
Excalibur ADHD Association (Parent Support Group)
Excalibur ADHD Association (Russian Dinner)
Feed Nova Scotia (Christmas Families)Food Bank
Food Security Workshop
Foot Clinic (We Care)
Great Canadian Bible Study
Jesus To the Nations
Marco Symonds (Dreamgirls)
Mental Health Drop-In for Seniors (CDHA)
Mental Health First Aid
Metro Community Housing
Out of the Cold Emergency Shelter
Shannon Park Elementary (Family Potluck)
Steve McEvoy Ministries
The Well (Adam Greeley)
Thursday Night Basketball
Victoria Road Baptist Church (Leadership Retreat)