Planting in Winnipeg
By Doug Koop
Two gatherings in Winnipeg challenge the
definitions of a church plant.
Rachel Twigg Boyce doesn’t find the word “church” help- ful to describe the ministry she leads. And House Blend in Winnipeg is not what everyone would consider a
traditional church plant either. But something is growing here
that is a fresh expression of evangelical faith. Connected with
the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, this is an example of a Christian commitment that prioritizes social action
and deep fellowship.
“If you understand church to be a group of people follow-
ing Jesus, then yes, House Blend is a church. But if you mean
a building and a Sunday service, then it doesn’t fit the bill.”
House Blend, she explains, is as an intentional Christian com-
munity where people are encour-
aged to adhere to a Rule of Life and
expected to be part of a local congre-
gation. “We are a group of people
who, because we are inspired by
Jesus’ love of people who are poor,
and by Paul’s words in 1 Thessalon-
ians 2: 8, have committed to sharing
our lives with each other and with
our neighbours in West Broadway,
Some people within the com-
munity live in this actual house on
a non-affluent street. Others stay
connected through weekly potluck
and prayer gatherings, and by par-
ticipating in community service.
The house itself provides affordable housing for an ever-
the towers at Liberty Village and we recognize that they have
to hold a long-term position there. The work can be frustrating
and exhausting, and requires faith in the call. But they also
need to be sustained by others.”
This is especially true in areas where people are apathetic
to the Word. Most of the people Dash would speak to in any
given day have no background or interest in the Church. But
he knows that church planting is one of the best evangelism
strategies around – and also how the early Church started.
“When I was a pastor, a friend started a plant in his living
room. Over a period of ten years, we [the church Dash served
at the time] stayed the same, while they surpassed our size
and then went on to plant two new churches. They reached
way more people and did way more than we did with our
Typical church plants bring along some believers to give the
young plant a boost. Dash welcomes other believers to come and
be part of the outreach team. But there’s a catch. They have to
move into the community. Because what Liberty Grace is really
trying to do is “church that takes place all week long.”
Church planting is hard work. The risks are financial, emotional and spiritual. There is frequent
disappointment. One church plant I know
saw two converts in three years. Then
one of the converts died by suicide and
the other returned to the street.
Other Christians don’t understand
how difficult it can be. It’s not uncommon to be asked, “Don’t we have enough
churches already?” Funding agencies
frequently want to set benchmarks.
“You’re supposed to have a hundred
people attending worship by the end of
this year. how many do you have right
now?” And more than one aspiring
church planter has lost his faith when
things didn’t work out. so why bother?
The bottom line is simple. It’s all
about the gospel. People need to hear
and experience the Good news of Jesus
Christ. existing churches will never reach
everyone. either they no longer relate
to the community around them, or the
population has moved somewhere else
(whether downtown or the suburbs),
or they are so taken up with their own
internal affairs that they have no time for
outreach. new churches can avoid all of
these dangers, and focus on the most
important point of all – the gospel.
What is delightful about these three
(or four, really) stories is how diverse they
are, and yet how much they have in common. The diversity is obvious – a church
among Iranian immigrants, a church
among the condos of downtown Toronto,
a church among the poor of Winnipeg,
and a church doing new things out of an
old, traditional church.
Yet all four have the same heart and
the same instincts. They are key for
understanding the why and the how of
church planting in Canada today.
Darryl Dash spent a year to discern
how and where to begin in downtown To-
ronto. My guess
is that none of
these four plants
started in a hurry.
work that way.
cies get antsy
about the slow
“progress,” but slow is the only way. Until
you know the community where you are
called to plant, you won’t know where to
begin. That doesn’t happen overnight.
These new churches have a clear vi-
sion of the heart of Church: Rachel Twigg
Boyce is clear that church is “a group of
people following Jesus.” Lydia says it’s
about people “who are sold out to Jesus.”
Darryl Dash says it is “to show the love of
God to people.” It’s pretty simple. Groups
that begin with a building and a bunch of
administrative committees can easily
By John Bowen
Twigg Boyce leads.