This week we interviewed three practitioners serving on the field as church planters. These are their stories.
On January 7, 2017, Dr. Chris Flora, his wife Mindy and his four young children relocated to Silverado—a new and vibrant neighborhood community of southern Calgary, Alberta in Canada. Silvarado is one of the fastest growing communities in Alberta and is expected to double between now and 2020. But Chris never expected to minister in Canada—his destination was the result of a long process of following God’s leadership.
Back when Chris was in college working on a degree in forensic science, he already knew God had called him to ministry, and he truly believed his role in church planting was to encourage his home church to support church planters. After changing majors to psychology—forensic science had too many labs that were cutting into ministry time—Chris began working in youth ministry, something he would continue to do for the next decade.
While attending The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Chris even took a course in church planting with his friend Brett. His church planting professor bought the two students lunch and pleaded with them to go to Canada to plant churches. The question, “Chris, when are we going to Canada?” almost became a half-joking catchphrase when the professor would encounter him. Chris took more classes with Brett and stayed in touch with him. Occasionally, he would remember the plea of his professor and others about the need for planters and churches in Canada. After a few years, Brett went on to plant a church in Calgary himself.
Ten years passed, and Chris continued to do youth ministry. Five years ago, Chris arrived at FBC Lancaster, Ohio, and continued to pray the same prayer: “Lord, help me to lead our church to plant churches.” Meanwhile, Brett was praying about where to start the next church plant. As part of a mission trip with First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Oklahoma, Brett began talking to a church planting catalyst from Edmonton, Alberta named Stan.
Stan encountered Chris and asked him, “What’s your passion, Chris? Where do you want to be in the next thirty years?” Chris responded that he wanted, “to lead a church that plants churches.” Stan asked if Chris knew Brett—his old friend from seminary—and told him to call Brett right away.
Brett had never advertised the open position for a future church plant in Calgary—and yet, God was leading Chris all along. After a three-hour-long conversation, Brett said all the “checkmarks had been checked off.” Only one day after being told by the Send City coordinator that he would need to raise the money for a vision trip to Calgary, an anonymous donation of $500 appeared on his desk.
Over the next year, Chris prayed with his family as he saw the direction of God in his life and knew where his next destination would be. He immediately fell in love with the city, and the community of Silverado where he would be ministering. Over a third of Silverado is foreign-born, including people from Britain, India, Russia, Ukraine, Chile, Lebanon and the Ivory Coast. Chris and others on the Send City team believe that if churches catch the vision of what God is doing in church plants, they will have a chance to influence the nations. Otherwise, they will miss a great blessing.
So now Chris is leading his church to plant a church—by being the church planter himself. He had not expected or planned for this role, because he had believed he would work as a senior minister—encouraging his local church to send others out. God had other plans.
“Now a church that I love dearly, is sending me out to plant a church in a community I have already fallen in love with,” Chris explained. “We are working closely with two churches—both less than 10 years old—in the same area of southeast Calgary. Together they will provide guidance, experience and expertise on how to adapt and reach Canadians in Calgary. We are aiming to put our resources together in hopes of beginning a church planting movement within the city.”