By Hailey Siebe, Resonate Lethbridge
This fall, my husband Jake and I moved to Lethbridge, Alberta to start a church with Resonate to reach the University of Lethbridge.
For the past five years, Jake and I have been considering church planting in the US and internationally. A year ago, we sensed God calling us to Canada.
There is a great need for more churches in Canada. In Lethbridge, less than 5% of people are involved in a church and less than 1% of college students are involved in a church or campus ministry. Lethbridge is the best entry point for Resonate into Canada because it's a small college town that is a little more open to and familiar with church than the rest of the country. Canada is not a Christian nation and it’s more lost than any city we are reaching in the US.
We loved serving in Pullman, the town we both spent the majority of our lives, but we sensed God was calling us to be sent. We’re regular people with regular jobs who have a passion to see students know Jesus through living our lives on mission. We both decided to follow Jesus in college, and we have focused our lives toward college ministry ever since. Since moving to a new city, here are some things I’ve learned.
Church planting isn't an organizational plan, it's an urgent calling.
I’m a planner and I love to feel prepared, never procrastinating or changing my mind at the last minute. For the past 5 years, Jake and I have patiently considered many different church plants until we sensed God calling us to Canada. But Canada wasn't in the plans to be a 21x21 plant, it wasn't announced at Resonate Conference 2018, and no site pastor in training was considering it that we knew of. But we didn't have peace about waiting.
We processed through scripture and prayer, shared our calling with our community and pastors, our passion for Canada grew, we started to cast vision about the need in Canada with everyone we knew, and we started to take steps to commit to what God was leading us to. It has been confusing and unclear and plans have changed, but God has asked us to trust Him.
“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30
We have a Site Pastor in Training now preparing to move. Other staff and church members are considering to be a part of the Lethbridge church plant which is essential for this calling to be lived out.
But we are the church, we are disciples who make disciples, and we are called to Canada, so we knew we could go and be sent with support from our church. Our faith in God, and our faith that we and our church is following God, means we are not afraid of being left alone or falling away from God.
When we sense God leading us to something, how encouraging could that be for others when we follow Him even if it’s crazy and you start out your journey in another country alone in hopes to see people come to know Jesus? The mission is urgent, and it’s worth being uncomfortable.
Mission is best in community.
We weren’t going rogue and planning on moving on our own. We anticipated team members moving at the same time or joining us within a few months. Our biggest challenge is how the rest of our team was delayed in moving to Lethbridge. At certain points we have had people leave our team, have encountered crazy roadblocks, and continue to face obstacles that come with an international church plant.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3
The first week we arrived in Canada, it sunk in that we had never done ministry as just the two of us without a Village, and it changes everything when you don't have that family around you. I assure you mission is best in community. But we’ve been in awe of the Gospel friendships we have made in Lethbridge with people who support us and encourage us more than we could have dreamed. We are so excited for Resonate team members to move, but God has provided friends. Remember that God has placed people in your life for a reason, and if you need Gospel community, trust the believers in your life and commit to them.
We are praying for 10 more people to commit to join the team and praying that Resonate Eugene is prepared to send out our future Site Pastor. We've extended the ask for our church plant to launch in the next year.
We don’t know how the details are going to come together, who is going to move, or when, but we know the Lord is going before us and he is calling more people to Lethbridge.
It didn't happen as we, or anyone expected, and God can use that.
When I look at the Bible and the history of Resonate, the things that have worked out in ways we didn't expect point to God even more. We are seeing innovative new things happen each year. We didn’t exactly have a script for building a team when Jake and I committed to Lethbridge, but we were obedient to God and started having conversations with people as the spirit led.
“For David says concerning him, “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken.” Acts 2:25
Now that we are in Lethbridge waiting on others to move, we are focusing on different goals than what we expected. We see friends starting Grow Groups and Villages at other sites and we want to do that. But we are getting to know the country, city, culture, and spiritual climate and although we'd love to start meeting students and gathering, we are trusting this will be fruitful groundwork. We have to remind ourselves that we are doing valuable, Kingdom work. The kind of work that Caleb and Jacob did before the people could enter the promised land, the kind of work John the Baptist did to prepare the way.
If you are in a city without a community on mission, know that you have purpose. Make friends (believers and non-believers), serve, get connected to a church. Maybe you are preparing the groundwork for a movement of God in your city. God willing a Resonate gathering, villages, and pastor will be there soon. The way multiplication is happening in Resonate Church, if we continue in this rhythm, we will be planting 7 new churches in 2022 and 21 in 2026 alone. Don’t assume someone else is going to make that happen, but deeply consider the way God could use you to be a part of this movement.
It’s hard to be the first, but why not be all in? We’ve had this vision since we started to consider Lethbridge, that God would prepare people and cities for a church plant before Resonate pastors send staff and gathering equipment. We don’t know if it’s going to work and that makes it a huge risk.
We are growing, being sanctified and prepared for what is still unknown ahead, and we are going to be able to help our future team and future church plants. This waiting time is hard but it is also a gift in preparing, settling, resting, and fighting for trust in the Lord.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5