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‘Send Montreal’ is launched
Adam Miller, Baptist Press
May 12, 2011

‘Send Montreal’ is launched

‘Send Montreal’ is launched
Adam Miller, Baptist Press
May 12, 2011

MONTREAL, Quebec — It’s still possible to visit 1,000 Quebec

communities and never see an evangelical church — a staggering fact that

Canadian church planting leaders face as they gather momentum for the Send

Montreal church planting effort.

Baptist leaders from Canada

and the United States

met to discuss plans for “Send Montreal” in mid-April in the first of many

local/regional gatherings to convene around the church planting strategy “Send

North America,” an initiative of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) being

launched this year.

Photo by Adam Miller

John Mark Clifton, right, a former Montreal church planter and pastor in Kansas City, Mo., talks about a strategy for mobilizing Southern Baptist churches to partner with Montreal church planters Francois Verschelden, center, and Ron Young.

Send Montreal coalition members set

a goal of starting 225 churches in Montreal

and other communities in Quebec

by 2020, which would include 199 French-speaking churches.

The coalition assigned two church planters, Quebec

native Francois Verschelden, pastor of Connexion in Montreal,

and Ron Young, pastor of Renaissance Bible

Church in Rawdon, the task of

designating 25 initial locations for new works in the province.

The group also gave priority to identifying key people and churches in Canada

and the United States

who can join the team in planting, partnering and sending.

“I believe some of Quebec’s

greatest indigenous leaders have yet to be discovered, and it’s our job to

unearth them,” Jeff Christopherson, church planting leader for the Canadian

National Baptist Convention and NAMB’s vice president for the Canada

region, said during the April 14-15 sessions. “It’s inconceivable to a lot of

people that there could be that many communities in one province without the gospel.

It’s our job to make these realities known.”

Particularly in the Montreal

metropolitan area, the unchurched population exceeds 99 percent of its 3.2

million people. But the secularization of Quebec,

whose citizens ousted the dominant Catholic rule and replaced it with a

resistance to organized religion in the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, has

extended to all outlying areas.

With a population of nearly 6 million (Quebec’s

total population is 7.3 million), the French-speaking Quebecois are considered

the largest unreached people group in North America.

They also could be among the hardest to reach, but they’re the key to the

province.

“If we are going to reach Quebec,

then we have to reach the vast majority, which is French-speaking,” Verschelden

said.

Photo by Ted Wilcox

The Montreal cityscape of Old World Catholic architecture and modern structures sprawls toward the Fleuve Saint Laurent. Once a Catholic stronghold, Montreal has become a socialist, secular metro region with distinct Quebecois culture of refinement and

lostness.

A general aversion to organized religion and a disinterest in anything that isn’t

French Quebecois has made church planting efforts an uphill struggle for

Southern Baptists and other evangelical groups.

The hardness of the Quebecois spiritual soil has at times removed it from the

purview of many evangelicals who’ve opted rather to plant English-speaking

churches.

“My parents are French Quebecois. My relatives have been here since 1642,”

Gerry Taillon, executive director of the Canadian National Baptist Convention,

said. “This is the most spiritually needy and hardest part of Canada

and the most religiously apathetic. But I also believe God is doing many things

here and I believe our job is to partner together and start a critical mass of

churches in this province.”

As NAMB gears up to launch Send North America at the Southern Baptist

Convention in June, Toronto and Vancouver

will join Montreal as areas of

special need with a priority of uncovering indigenous leadership and mobilizing

churches to partner with church planters through these key Canadian

metropolitan areas.

In addition to Verschelden, Young, Taillon and Christopherson, the Send

Montreal gathering included Peter Blackaby, a CNBC

mobilization catalyst; Jacques Avakian, a national missionary with NAMB; John

Mark Clifton, a former Montreal church planter and pastor of Wornall Road

Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.; and Mark Hobafcovich, a member of NAMB’s

multi-ethnic team.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller writes for the North American Mission Board.)

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