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The techniques of Paul and Barnabas guide outreach to cities in the western provincescomment (0)

February 5, 2009

By Martine G. Bates

The Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC) has a goal of 1,000 healthy, reproducing churches by 2020. At the end of 2008, the convention was ahead of schedule at 279 churches, thanks, at least in part, to techniques learned from Paul and Barnabas.

Dwight Huffman, national team leader for church starting for the CNBC, outlined the strategy used by Paul and Barnabas to plant some of the earliest Christian churches.

“We have broken down what Paul and Barnabas did in their first and second missionary journeys into five phases,” Huffman said. “We believe you explore the land, discover where God is at work in hearts and lives in the communities; you take action based upon what the Spirit says do; you evaluate those activities; and you celebrate what God is doing.

“This is the heart of our strategy in Canada,” he said.

In practical terms, Huffman said, the 107 church planting leaders on his team “walk with God and hang around lost people.”

Huffman wants to move away from the standard “workbook” approach to church planting. “In our exploration, we go into communities, talk with people and find out what is going on in their lives. Make it about them, not about us. Ask them questions about their lives.

“It’s about actually interacting with people about what God is about in their lives. That’s how you discover where God is at work.”

Huffman believes that Paul followed this pattern in finding “Lydias” to partner with him, praying and going to synagogues and looking for people he would refer to as “God-fearers.”

“Through his interaction, he would discover the folks that God was drawing to Himself. He ended up with a church at Philippi.”

Finding communities with no evangelical work is the easy part. While there are places, particularly in western Canada, where there is a base of evangelical work, there are also places where there is little or no evangelical activity.

“There are cities and towns of 50,000 people where there is not a single evangelical church,” Huffman said.

He is passionate about his calling and convinced of the effectiveness of Paul’s approach to church planting.

He said, “We have made church planting for the professional, and God never intended for it to be for professionals. He intended for normal, real people who love God to go and just be real. God shows up.”

Volunteers are needed to explore and pray in the various communities in Canada. Huffman believes that more people would volunteer if they understood the simplicity of what is asked of them.

While many people feel unprepared to spend a traditional week on a missions trip, Huffman encourages Christians to take a vacation in Canada.

“Just pick a place, fly in and just explore Canada. While you’re doing that, just talk to people. Talk to them. Tell them you’re here on vacation, but you’re followers of Christ and interested in this community. Ask if there are any Baptist churches here. Just make it simple.”

Similarly, Huffman suggests that people planning to go to the 2010 Olympics simply attend events.

“While you’re there, talk to people. If you discover someone who would like to have a Bible study, we will follow up on that.”

The CNBC Web site has a list of National Advocates (www.cnbc.ca/start/start-net). Huffman suggests contacting the advocate in the region a volunteer plans to visit. “They will be able to tell you exactly what to do,” he said.

Huffman travels extensively and is willing to visit Alabama to explain the simplicity of “being on mission” in Canada.

To contact Huffman, e-mail dhuffman@cnbc.ca or call 403-510-0513.

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