Network: Canada

“Why would you plant a church when there are so many other churches to work with?”

Before planting Church 21, I had a well-meaning, but ill-informed young lady within an established church ask me the aforementioned question. My answer was very simple and it revolved around the idea that the specific local church in question is not reaching the entirety of the city and that my gift and my call do not match what that specific local church needed.

Within my answer to this young lady are three truths about why Canada needs new churches: there is a great need, God has called men and women to do it, and God has given gifts for the task.

There is a Great Need

If we view a church as simply a building, then in many places, there would appear to be a sufficient number of edifices donned with a plaque stating “church.” I can understand the argument that there are enough churches if this presupposition is accurate.

But the church is the people of God. The buildings only house the gatherings of the saints, after which the church disperses and goes into the nooks and crannies, the cracks and forgotten places in the city, town, or village. And she goes into the spheres of vocation, recreation, habitation, education, and entertainment with good news to demonstrate and declare.

But God loves Canadians. He knew that our need was too great for us to overcome. So, Jesus came and did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

The hard pill for us to swallow is that a vast majority of Canadians are going to spend eternity (including now) separated from the One they were made for. They will never find the eternal value, meaning, or purpose that they subconsciously know exists – but don’t know what or who can give that to them. They will never know God as their father, bow their knee to King Jesus by faith, or be filled with the Spirit of God and experience true spirituality, security, love and peace. And it is very unlikely they will randomly wander into a building to have their spiritual needs met initially.

The need often feels overwhelming to me, and if you are connected to reality, the need most likely sends chills of anxiety to your soul at times.

But God loves Canadians. He knew that our need was too great for us to overcome. So, Jesus came and did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He lived a life of perfection, died in our place, and rose to give us life, which Jesus says is knowing and being known by God. Jesus is offering forgiveness and life to all Canadians who will ask.

But how will they know that this life is available? Most often, God speaks his word through his people by the power of his Spirit. So, the answer is that people will know through you. And God is calling people to start new works that will display and declare his good news.

God has called Men and Women to Plant New Churches

In Acts chapter 13, the Spirit of God told the church in Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work that he was calling them to, which happened to be planting churches. There are many books, courses, and conferences about Paul’s strategy of planting churches. I understand why and see much of the information that is shared as helpful and applicable. But what we should not ever miss is that it was the Spirit of God that called him. He was not attending a conference and looking around the room at the “celebrity” planters and pastors, thinking and hoping that he could get a platform like they had. He was not trying to prove that he could really be someone through his church planting accomplishments.

The Spirit of God called him!

And that is the reality for so many of the church planters I know. There is usually a story that involves God hijacking the plans of someone and rearranging their lives to church plant.

This is my story. I was in university to be a social worker. I wanted to help kids with mental disabilities. Then the Lord said, “I want you to plant a church in Montréal.” I had no idea that churches were even planted nor that there was a strategy behind it all. One day, I was content to be a social worker – and the next day, I knew I had to plant a church, albeit I had no idea of the cost required by my wife and I as we obeyed God in what he was clearly calling and leading us to.

I actually doubted this call at first, as I know that most people do. I knew myself (as well as I could), and I wasn’t sure that church planting would be for me. So, I asked three people who were close enough to me to really know me and who loved me enough to be extremely blunt with me about my calling. When I presented what I was fairly certain (yet doubting) God was calling me to, they unanimously affirmed this calling on my life, with one of them even writing a seven-page paper about why I should plant churches.

If you are sensing a call to church plant, let others in on this call. Pray and fast, of course. But then share it with people close to you, your church, your denomination, and a network such as Acts 29 or C2C. It is important to have multiple inputs help you discern what the Spirit is saying to you. The need is great and God is calling his people into his harvest.

God has given Gifts for the Task of Planting New Churches

God has not called his people to do something that he has not gifted them for. One can’t read the Bible without encountering this reality in the lives of God’s people. Don’t be discouraged if you do not yet see the presence of all the gifts needed, as God often doesn’t give everything necessary until it is needed.

I am convinced that God is calling many to partner with him in the task of planting churches that will plant churches. And the really good news is that he has done all of the hard work of providing salvation.

The primary gifting we are assessing in church planters is the apostolic gifting, which is the ability to start new churches or ministries in areas where people are unreached or overlooked. Often times, the church planter has to do the work of an evangelist, shepherd, and teacher – but they must have at the forefront of their mind the equipping of others in order to partner with them in the task at hand.


There is a huge need and opportunity for new churches to be planted amongst the 36 million Canadians. I am convinced that God is calling many to partner with him in the task of planting churches that will plant churches. And the really good news is that he has done all of the hard work of providing salvation. And he promises complete renewal and transformation, not to mention his presence and authority all along the way. In his generosity, he will give his church all the gifts that are necessary.

God is rescuing his people – and he wants to use you in his work!

If God is leading you toward planting a church or if you are thinking that could be a possibility, please contact us and let us know how we can help.

Dwight Bernier
Written by: Dwight Bernier on December 29, 2017

Dwight (@Dwight_Bernier) and his wife, Jessica, live in Montréal with their four children. In 2011 they began Church 21, a multi-location church in the province of Québec. Dwight has a great desire to see churches planted all throughout Canada. He serves as network director of Acts 29 Canada; enjoys baseball, running, reading, U2, and playing in the city with his family.