OSHAWA, Ont.—The top Eastern Canadian strategist in the Southern Baptist denomination said that while it is exciting that more Missouri Baptists are headed to Northern Ontario to be a part of a partnership to plant churches in Canada, they must avoid thinking that the lands are a lot alike. They are not.
Gary Smith, senior church starting catalyst for the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC), said the key to success for Missouri Baptists who hope to make an impact in the partnership is “listening, listening, and more listening.” While Canadians are Anglo in appearance like so very many Missourians, they lean as a people toward multiculturalism, and their approach to life is different.
“You cannot assume an understanding of any biblical concepts such as sin, who is Jesus, the authority of the Scriptures,” Smith said.
The CNBC seeks to establish 1,000 churches across Canada by 2020. It will not be easy, Smith said.
“Jesus Christ in much of Eastern Canada is known much more as a curse word,” he said. “A great dependence on God’s Spirit is critical in sharing the gospel and where you start in sharing the gospel.”
As the Missouri Baptist short-term missionary humbles himself, he will be able to cross any culture in Northern Ontario, Smith said.
“Most Canadians will visit with you,” he said. “They will be curious as to why you are there. Canadians value service to the community. Serve and build trust. However, feel free to share the gospel. Just make sure that you are sharing in a way that makes sense to the culture. That is why the listening is so key.”
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) recommends that evangelism in Canada be relational. This means sharing your personal experience and relationship with Christ.
The Christian community in Canada is mostly made up of small congregations. Two-thirds of Canada’s churches have 125 or fewer people in attendance on Sunday, NAMB reported. More than half of those churches run under 75.
Missouri Baptist churches who are attempting to make a difference in Northern Ontario are doing so in harmony with the CNBC mission statement of “churches in covenant, giving ourselves away, to advance the kingdom of God.”