Impossible. Impractical. Incredible. Inspiring.
That was my simple stream of consciousness (alliterated, because I am apparently that Southern Baptist) as I listened to the pastor of La Chapelle in Montreal share his church’s vision for planting 50 churches in the next 50 years across Montreal, the province of Quebec and internationally. I’m not a stranger to the difficulties of ministry in Montreal specifically and Quebec generally. My wife came to Montreal with a church planting class only 4 years ago and shared with me the difficulty with which faithful ministers labored with no fruit to show for their efforts. Many had been here for years seeing little to no results from their faithfulness.
In 3 years La Chapelle has grown to 1200 individuals across two campuses, the vast majority of which are new converts having little to no background with any form of Christianity, much less a church.
Little did we know, one year after my wife’s visit La Chapelle was started. According to our hosts in Montreal, in 3 years La Chapelle has grown to 1200 individuals across two campuses, the vast majority of which are new converts having little to no background with any form of Christianity, much less a church. Only 3 years old, La Chapelle is now the largest Southern Baptist church in the Canadian Baptist Convention.
And, according to their pastor, David Pothier, it’s only just beginning. Listening to David and the La Chapelle staff share their heart for their community and their vision for wide-spread cultural impact across their city, province and nation reminded me of 4 elements of an effective and inspiring vision:
- It’s God-sized— I’m aware of the years of struggle that faithful people have experienced ministering in Montreal. I’m aware of the wide-spread lostness amongst the Quebecois. I’m aware that anything other than incremental growth is probably unrealistic in Quebec. But La Chapelle‘s vision resonates so strongly with me and with many others exactly because it defies these realities and insists on a God-sized movement in which people get to participate.
- It’s clear— The main objectives for La Chapelle are abundantly clear. Quantitative and geographical measurements govern their evaluation process and remove the subjectivity abundant in most mission and vision evaluations.
- It’s concise— I was in the same room with David Pothier for 45 minutes and I can recite his church’s vision statement verbatim. Most try to do too much with their vision statements for it to actually be committed to someone’s memory. You don’t have to say everything that your organization/church/group is about in a vision statement. Overly elaborate vision statements become albatrosses that no one bothers to take to heart.
- It governs other activities— Obviously the church will do other things outside of the realm of evangelism and church planting. Those other things, however, are still guided by the church’s vision. Since La Chapelle desires to see such an unprecedented movement amongst its target population, it stood to reason that the church should seek to influence local influencers. As a result, they have a significant ministry to artists and routinely seek creative ways to employ the creative class in the life of the church. The best example: a Christmas play that is described as “Broadway caliber” that the church uses as an outreach that is actually effective. Last year’s play resulted in 300 individuals previously unaffiliated with the church coming to at least one service at La Chapelle.