#28 – How God uses Humility and Sacrifice to Renew a Church, ft. Norm Funk

 In

Church Planting

 

Norm shares with our listeners his own personal story and his journey to plant a church in downtown Vancouver.  He also talks about his recent call to ‘replant’ Midtown Church.  We hope this conversation will inspire you to move your own church toward mission.  Please pray that  Midtown Church would make an impact and be a beacon in their community.

 

“When I went into Vancouver with a group of others, my commitment was, I need to find a space to teach the Bible and tell people about Jesus. That was my whole mission.” – Norm Funk

 

“I believe the Lord has people in this city that are his and they just need to hear the gospel preached, and how will they hear it if somebody doesn’t come in and, and tell them.” – Norm Funk

We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of Midtown Church in January, 2021. Midtown is a replant work that will build upon the 52 years of faithful ministry of Culloden Church as it seeks to make Jesus known in Vancouver.

 

Topics Covered Include

  • Culloden’s surrender to a new venture
  • Discipline of fasting
  • The cost of planting
  • Culloden’s ministry legacy
  • Launching during Covid

 

Show Notes

 

 

BCMB Pastor to Pastor
BCMB Pastor to Pastor
#28 - How God uses Humility and Sacrifice to Renew a Church, ft. Norm Funk
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Transcription

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Norm Funk:
When I went into Vancouver with a group of others, my commitment was, I need to find a space to teach the Bible and tell people about Jesus. That was my whole mission. Like, if you were to ask me, what was your vision, that was it. Is this something that the Lord is calling you to? And and if he's not, then you either. For those who are part of ministry now, please stay I don't, I don't want people coming just simply because they like new things or they know me or, or whoever. And for Culloden, for those individuals that they don't stay, they need new ministries to go to. So discernment for that. That's a big part of this, the immediate calendar in terms of what's going on.

Welcome to the BCMB podcast, Pastor to Pastor. This is a podcast by the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. We want to help equip and encourage pastors, churches and anyone else who wants to listen in and be more effective in their ministry. This is Episode 28, How God Uses Humility and Sacrifice to Renew a Church with Norm Funk.

Rob Thiessen:
All right, this is our podcast with Norm Funk. My name is Rob Thiessen, I'm the conference minister. Yeah. Did I say it's a pastor to pastor podcast? And once again, we called it pastor to pastor, but it's for everyone. And, but it is a conversation for, for those involved in ministry, in the body of Christ. And this is a local podcast for the BCMB community. But again, people from across Canada are listening, maybe other parts of the world. We're glad you're with us. And we know that we all have some common experiences as we follow Christ and seek to, to serve him well and his church well. And so our guest today is Norm Funk. And Norm and I have known each other even from a distance for many, many years. Our family and our fathers were friends. And it's a real privilege to be on with you. And, and as we always do with the podcast, we get started with a question just for our, for our guest to introduce a little bit themselves by telling us a little bit about the faith community that shaped you and that, that part of your journey.

Rob Thiessen:
So, yeah. Norm, welcome.

Norm Funk:
Thank you. Really good to be with you. For those who are listening, just a, you know, just a shout out to what you've been in my life Rob, I'm going to, I'm going to talk about you a little bit, really briefly, just your encouragement to me. You know, you, you have a tough task, especially, you know, currently. But, you know, you're reaching out to me, prayer for me. You've, you know, our coffees over the years. It's just been, I've really appreciated it. And so I just want to make sure that you know that, and you know, the millions that listen to this podcast know that.

Rob Thiessen:
So,my mother as well, my mother might be listening. So that's good. Yeah. Yeah.

Norm Funk:
So, but thank you. It's great to be with you. You know my story, very simply, I'm a born and raised Vancouver kid. I actually live in the house that I grew up in. I moved out for a while. My life is going full circle.

Norm Funk:
But, you know, I grew up on the mean hard streets of Dunbar in Vancouver and, and other than some schooling and then ministry life, I thought I was, I came to Jesus. I really started following Jesus at seventeen through a camp ministry. Thought I would actually go into that ministry full time. God had different things in store. I worked at Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship as a youth guy for a couple of years, back in the early nineties, got married, left that ministry and was called by Willingdon Church back in nineteen ninety five and joined that ministry as a youth guy. High school ministry, college ministry started preaching over the years. And that's where I met Carlin Weinhauer. And I have what I call two mentors in my life. One was the camp director that I worked with for eight summers and then Carlin. And it was really my time at Willingdon with Carlin and also working with so many great, you know, people there, elders there. John Neufeld came in when I was there, a lover of God's word and a great preacher and Carlin, a man of prayer and faithfulness to God's word. And it was in 2003 to 2004 that I felt a stirring. I didn't know what that story would look like, but God revealed in, in the summer of 2004 that I was to go back, move back to Vancouver. I was living, working in Burnaby, obviously at Willingdon, living in a town home in Surrey that I was being called,

Norm Funk:
He was calling me to plant a church in Vancouver. And and so in early 2005, moved.

Norm Funk:
Moved to Vancouver and planted West Side in a movie theater in Kitsilano and, and was there for 14 years until I sensed another call of leaving, but not knowing where I was going to. And so in June of twenty nineteen, stepped down from, from West Side. Matt Menzel, great leader, good friend, gifted, gifted man, took over that ministry and, and that's where we are. Long story short, that's where we are today. So in January, you know, we can get into this in greater detail.

Norm Funk:
Culloden approached me, Paul Wicki, who is the lead pastor of Culloden, and their elders called me and shared with me their, their sense that, that a new thing was, was in shape in store for Culloden, and so we're obviously going to get to that. But that's, that's my, my story. I was a Killarney Park kid. I grew up in Killarney Park, a lot of pastors over the years.

Norm Funk:
But the Deit Neufeld's and the Ray Beistrums, and the Ron Penner's. I grew up there. I was baptized back in 1984 as a, as a, as a grade 12 kid. That's when I started following Jesus. And so have a great love for Killarney Park in Vancouver.

Norm Funk:
And anyway, that's my yeah. That's my abridged version of my my story.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Well, before we get into the church segment, you spent a significant time there at camp and I know you were down in the Firs, down in Bellingham area there. What were some of the significant, like, faith shaping things that happened in your life through, through camping ministry there?

Norm Funk:
Yeah, well, I've shared this in, in a lot of different places. I went down to Firwood in nineteen eighty three.

Norm Funk:
I attended there as a camper, you know, in, I attended camp at what was called Columbia Bible Camp, now Stillwood, as a kid and also attended Firwood. And I actually signed up to be on summer staff in the summer of eighty three, mainly to get away from my parents. I wasn't walking with Jesus, home life wasn't good. I wanted to be a professional golfer, although I wasn't good enough to be a professional golfer and I was just doing stupid stuff like kids do in high school. And I wanted to get away from, from my folks. But hey, I'll go down to Firwood, just be able to hide out for 12 weeks. I mean, I've told the story that when I showed up to Leadership Training Week at this Christian camp, I was hung over on the first day. I mean, that was just my life at that time. And it was about four days into a leadership training week there that I, I, I, I knew the Christian faith. I knew the stories. I wasn't living it. And I was guilt ridden and I was disobedient and I was fighting the Lord. And I remember walking up to a,

Norm Funk:
to a rifle range, they don't have those anymore, rifles and really just having a what I would call a heart to heart with the Lord and I, I, I remember very much even to this day.

Norm Funk:
Talking to the Lord, I'm either in or I'm out and I'm either going to follow you or I'm not, I believe in you. It's not a question of belief, it's a question of disobedience, of faith and trust and obedience. And I made a decision at that time to walk with the Lord. And I remember walking down this, you know, these, these people, this staircase from the rifle range. And, and that was my really defining moment. I don't know if I would say before that, Rob, or not, but that was the time where I decided to follow Jesus. I walked into ministry like in a camp setting. My the camp director became my mentor. I worked for him for eight summers. He was the individual named Mike Johnson, works for Compassion International today down in the States.

Norm Funk:
And he told me, he gave me the great wisdom that I passed on to others that what you need to do is you need to learn the Bible, study the Bible as much as you can, and you need to volunteer as much as you can. And that's what I did for the next eight summers and my college life. I volunteered and I studied the Bible. And I as I said earlier, I thought I was going to be, my desire was to be a camp, a camp director. That was my desire. I went to, I graduated from Seattle Pacific University, I did an internship at the Firs. And what I discovered when I took my internship was, camp is great in the summer, And there's about eight months that it's pretty, pretty, pretty lonely. And I wanted to be in ministry all I wanted to be with people.

Norm Funk:
I love being with people and met my now wife my last summer there and.

Norm Funk:
And through a variety of events, she was going to UBC, I moved back home and almost accidentally falling, fell into church ministry. But what I see to your question specifically, what I discovered about working at camp was just a love, a love for ministry and seeing I mean, seeing the gospel make an impact, seeing kids, you know, from 10 years old to 17 come into a camp and six days later walking with the Lord, coming to Jesus, I thought that, that loved each other, committed to worship, committed to prayer, committed to gospel proclamation.

Norm Funk:
And I fell in love with ministry. I know many things. And then tied to that, my, my mentor, Mike Johnson. Really paved the way for how I've tried to lead since, and that is he gave me room to fail. We didn't sit down every day and he gave me three things to think about. He gave me the opportunity. He always encouraged me. He, he was a great support, gave me room to try things. And I can't, he Mike and Carlin, very similar leadership styles. And, but they've really, got to be so gracious when I walk. I think about that from 17, walking down from the rifle range going, I'm in going, OK, here it is.

Norm Funk:
And just seeing the spirit of God, I mean, hundreds and hundreds of kids. Camp ministry. I'm a huge, huge lover of camp ministry. God does something in those moments through high school and young college students, bringing people to Jesus and people falling in love with ministry and wanting to. I just, it was huge for me. I would never, I wouldn't be in ministry today if it wasn't for that time there. And so I can't. I can't, affirm camp ministry enough, it's just God does something, right? In six days, really, One week. I'm 54 now and, and it that's still the bedrock of my life. Yeah. What God did in those times. Yeah.

Rob Thiessen:
Oh, that's so good, Norm. And it wasn't on our agenda, but just when you mention it and I thought, that's great. We're going to have you as the next speaker at our camps. Yeah. Because that's, that is a story that a lot of, a lot of us experienced life changing days. And it's not insignificant that you're in the forest with a gun and just doing stuff that, you know, is, is easy for a teen to do. You know, it's a place where this is exciting. This is fun. And now I'm open to a conversation because this is a Christian environment and. Yeah, phenomenal. Well, appreciate that so much, Norm. And that, that, that was a little side shout out. Right. Right, right. For sure. And great for all of our pastors to think about and value the role of camps. And, and obviously, God led you into, into inner city church planting and very much in the city, which is a fair distance from camp. So that's not everybody gets to camp. But but a lot do and, and it's very significant.

Rob Thiessen:
So let's just, I've got a few questions here for, for you to explore with us, but.

Rob Thiessen:
You know, when churches are planted, you usually have a core group and, and, you know, we've had various models of church planting happen, but there was something new going on with being called into the city and, and not a lot of models, not a lot of success.

Rob Thiessen:
I mean, Vancouver, that was, it was an exodus of churches, declining churches in the city everywhere. I mean, I remember, I can't remember what year it was, but you guys were doing a Good Friday service at the Stanley and I.

Rob Thiessen:
I think, maybe I was already, it was maybe, it was my first year Conference Minister, so that would have been 2012. But I went down to that service and I saw the hundreds of, you know, young adults milling around on a rainy Friday morning in April.

Rob Thiessen:
And I thought, OK, this is, this is something, something is happening here that, that is surprising for the city. And yeah.

Norm Funk:
So I yeah. I remember that day. Sorry to cut you off. I remember watching you walk down the sidewalk and I thought, Rob Thiessen is here, this is great, what a good guy and I remember that I remember that day because.

Norm Funk:
You know, like you Rob, you know, we speak and teach and preach in different places over our years and I have never, I love that theater. That's what stands out to me is how much I love that theater and, and love being there. And, yeah, that's, that's one of the highlights. You know, how you have those moments in your ministry life where you go. What do you remember? I, I remember, I remember that. I remember the Good Friday that we had Rob being there and.

Norm Funk:
Yeah, you know, to your question about. You know, when I, when I felt the call to, to leave Willingdon and, and as I said, I grew up in Vancouver, I never thought I would move back to Vancouver and do ministry in the heart of Vancouver at that stage. So in two thousand four and five.

Norm Funk:
You know, if you, if you were to ask me and I wasn't, you know, totally in the know about church ministry life in Vancouver at that time, I was obviously in Burnaby at Willingdon and I knew about the Northviews and the North Shore Alliances and, you know, churches out in the Valley. But at that time when I said, no, I'm feeling a call to plant. And at that time it was, I'm going to plant a church by God's grace with others in Kitsilano, and the response from the Christian community, not that, not the, not the, non Christian community, but the Christian community, was that's a stupid idea. That people in the city don't go to church. You're going to spend all week working on a sermon and there's going to be 15 people show up. It's just it's not worth it, the church's die in the city.

Norm Funk:
And if you look at the metrics. Yeah, that made sense. I mean, I remember at that time I was working with Sunlife Youth Ministry, doing some training, evangelism, street evangelism training, and we had a conference at UBC. We had about twenty five youth ministries from around BC and around Alberta come. I picked a couple out of Washington State and not one from Vancouver and I thought, what's going on here? And, and I, I just remember talking to Nicole and talking to others, I, I don't believe, I don't believe what I'm hearing that the Lord, I believe, I mean, I believe, I believe the Lord has people in this city that are his and they just need to hear the gospel preached, and how will they hear it if somebody doesn't come in and, and tell them and I you know, Romans, ten stuff. And and I believe the gospel is more powerful than what was going on in the city. And I believe there is room for more. I didn't think that the churches there were doing a bad job. I think they're doing a wonderful job, the 10th Avenue and the console's and the First Baptists, great ministries and so many more. And so when I went into Vancouver with a group of others, my commitment was, I need to find a space, teach the Bible and tell people about Jesus. That was my whole mission. Like if you were to ask me, what was your vision? That was it. I'm not smart. You just had, you know, the Brett Landry's and the Matt Glezos on your podcast. You said and, far smarter than me. I just wanted to find a room, tell people about Jesus, teach the Bible because of my conviction about the power of the written word of God. When the spirit gets hold of individuals, hearts burn and they come to Jesus. And what I discovered what I've seen over the last 14, 15 years.

Norm Funk:
Is that if you teach the Bible and preach the Bible, that the spirit of God wrote, he will draw men and women to himself. And when men and women are drawn to himself and, and truly, truly fall in love with Jesus, or to put it in Paul language of Colossians, I believe it's chapter one verse six where he says, when you understand the grace of God, he defines Christianity as coming to understand the grace of God, like truly understand what's happened. You'll, you'll want to share it with others. You'll want to be involved. And, and I've seen that happen. And that's not I mean, that has nothing to do with me. That has nothing to do with me. That's the spirit of God, getting a hold of people's hearts. And they fall in love with him and they want to tell others about him. I, I'm the dumbest pastor on the block when it comes to ingenuity.

Norm Funk:
I just truly have a conviction about that and that because I've seen it happen.

Norm Funk:
And, and it wasn't a well I'll show you.

Norm Funk:
It wasn't that, it had nothing to do with that. It just I want to tell people about Jesus. I'm going to show how the word of God is relevant, applicable, helpful, heart changing, not because it's, just simply a special book, but it's a God written book, it's his written word, and so and by his grace, he's, he's showing that. And not, not just I mean, I mean, Rob, sorry to keep on talking, but the, the state of the church today in Vancouver compared to two thousand five.

Norm Funk:
I mean, when I walked in to Vancouver, moved back to, and was a part of planting West Side, it was a pretty barren place.

Norm Funk:
I mean, there was some good ministries, but now. I mean, you know what, what has happened with Christ City, what has happened at Coastal with Dave Coop, they have about I don't know how many four or five different sites, 10th Avenue they have, about four or five different sites. And the other ministries, you know, that I know of are growing. People are coming and God is doing something in Vancouver in the same way he's doing something in the Valley. I mean, think about, you know, the churches like the Northviews and the Willingdons and the Village. The Village didn't even exist. I remember meeting with Mark Clark, I think 2010, you know, and now they have a million people, you know, just like the million listeners of your podcast. But good things are going on. And I think God is doing something in the city. And, you know, there's a commonality of sharing the word, sharing the gospel, telling people about Jesus, calling them to ministry.

Norm Funk:
And the spirit is at work and it's great.

Rob Thiessen:
Mm hmm. So, Norm, I know preaching scripture has been a big priority for you and something you give yourself to in preparation and focus and training, equipping others.

Rob Thiessen:
And when you talk generally about preaching from scripture, well, there are, we have a lot of pastors, pastors would say, well, yeah, I preach the Bible that's you go to, to preach. And you said a few things there. You know that your conviction that this is the word of, of God, the very word of God. And so it will, will guide and equip people.

Rob Thiessen:
And what I hear you saying is you come with a conviction that people are going to meet God in in, in his word, in the preaching, which is, you know, I think a mindset that you're adopting. I mean, I remember doing a preaching class down at Western Seminary and a fellow was talking about, I think it's a Lutheran expression, like Lutherans consider preaching a sacrament, so that's one of the reasons why the Lutherans don't share the pulpit with anybody else.

Rob Thiessen:
It's a sacrament of the Lutheran church.

Rob Thiessen:
The preaching, and what they think about that is that the living Lord Jesus is walking through the church, through the gathered community, present through the spoken word. And I remember when he, when he said that I thought, like, I like that.

Rob Thiessen:
I like that, you know, I mean, isn't that, doesn't that fit with what we, what we believe about the word of God? Jesus is the word of God. And when the word is preached, Jesus is there. And, and then we started mulling around the question and say, well, what is Jesus wanting to say to the people that he's as right through the word. So what are the things that are in your mind for a given sermon that you, you want? I mean, I know in any text is a different thing, but you obviously, believing people are going to encounter God. Like, what I'm asking is, how do you preach from mission with this? How do you, do you incorporate a gospel invitation in every message or how you talked about the grace of God too that's got to come through because that's life changing. Talk to us a little bit because that might encourage all of us who are involved in the work of teaching and preaching the word of God.

Norm Funk:
Yeah, I love the question.

Norm Funk:
I, there's a few things that always resonate or always are, are sticking in my mind when I'm, when I'm preparing a message. One is Jesus statement to the religious leaders of the day that the scriptures point to me. They're fulfilled in me. And so I'm always, that's how the gospel brings fullness to every message, that's how the gospel is displayed in every message, it points to Jesus. And so, you know, to use a Keller statement, you know, every message has to talk about what we're supposed to do, why we can't do it, what Jesus does to accomplish it. To paraphrase him. And so every message doesn't have to have the four spiritual laws preached throughout or at the end, for example, but every message has to find its fulfillment point to Jesus as the accomplisher and fulfiller of it and how by way of his grace and work and fulfillment and who we are in Christ and who we are outside of Christ is demonstrated. And so that's always a part of my mindset tied into that. It's just the road to Emmaus moment where Jesus shares with the disciples who, who are clouded in their understanding of who he is or who it, who it is talking to him, speak of how their hearts burned.

Norm Funk:
And so there's this, I think this aspect. And I think it's, second Corinthians four and five, and I was just in it again yesterday, talk about how we aren't qualified in and of ourselves, but the Lord makes us qualified and I think he makes us qualified because he gives us a powerful message. That message, the power of God message to use Romans 1:16 language. And so I guess I am, I am not a better preacher than others. And I don't think numbers demonstrate that you, you are. What I have a conviction about, and I'm thankful for churches of 10 and 20 and 30 that are faithful because I don't think, we just have such a, a belief that I'm not doing a good job if we don't have a bunch of people, I just don't believe that and I don't believe that I have any better understanding of church life than you or anybody else. What I have is and I know I share this with many others and I'm thankful is this, this Bible that we open up is the written word of God and, and because it is God breathed to use second Timothy 3:16-17 language, because it is breathed out by God, it's profitable every time you open it up.

Norm Funk:
And so that brings, that brings such assurance when you, whether it's getting up behind a pulpit or you're teaching a home group or your Sunday school class or class or whatever, whatever venue it is, that there is this freedom that comes. Jesus is in the room, he walks among the lamp stands. And so I want to honor him and the Holy Spirit as we lift up Jesus by way of the work, point people to Jesus, he's going to draw people to himself. I've shared this before and you may not believe this, but I'll share it again. I am not, I do not have strong faith. I'm not a man, that's not one of my gifts. My wife has a,she has a faith gift. I, I fight fear. I fight doubt a lot. What God has graced me with however is conviction. Conviction guides, guides me in ministry. And I'm so thankful because when people talk, going into this thing with with Midtown,Culloden transition, I've had more fearful days.

Norm Funk:
Then, then, hey, this is going to be the greatest thing in the world. I don't have that belief, but I'm very thankful that when I open up the Bible and tell people about Jesus, this is true and he is, I just and I don't even know where does that even come from? I mean, you could answer that question for me. That's just that. And it's not true because I've read F F Bruce or, you know, I've spent a lot of time talking and studying. You know why the New Testament, Old Testament documents are true. I can trust, it's not, it's, it's a, it's a gift of God that I'm so thankful for because I take zero credit for it.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, I think I, I have an idea like that, what contributes to that in your life Norm, and that's something I've observed with you, is oftentimes I meet with you will come and I'll say, hey, you want to do lunch, and you, I'm on a fast right now or I'm in the middle of this. And so I think and I've often said, well, what kind of leader is Norm? And I'm like, well, he's a Moses kind of a leader. Norm is a Moses kind of a leader. He likes to go to a mountain and hear from God. And, and I think that, you know, I'm going to put that out there because one of the questions I wrote for myself is what role does prayer and fasting play in your life? And I have a suspicion it's connected to why you have convictions about things, is that you spend time asking the Lord about what's on his heart.

Norm Funk:
You know, he's very much, a, thank, thank you for that.

Norm Funk:
I, you know, I remember when Brett Landry was apprenticing with us at West Side before he had, before he had planted and he came into my office one day and I said, how are you doing? He goes, Well, I'm on about day 23 of a 30 day fast. What? Never in my life thought about that. And, and but that began a bit of a journey for me to where I started doing 30 day fasts back in twenty thirteen, partial fasts. So a little bit of juice at meals, but essentially a fast and those, again everything is by God's grace.

Norm Funk:
And these, but those, you know, those have been some of the most special moments of my, my walk with the Lord. I, not everyone, some, some of them have been. I'm just grunting this through and it feels like I'm just being obedient. And then I've had moments in my first fast, my first thirty days fast. And I did it in the lead up to going downtown and moving into the center.

Norm Funk:
Get a little choked up talking about this, but the Lord stood by my bed one morning. I've, I've never felt it, like I felt his presence like that and I've never had that. I maybe done seven, seven or so of these fast over the years. But the Lord was present and, and those have been, I always fast in those, in those longer periods, to, with two things in mind. I want to pursue the Lord, I want to draw close to him. That's what I'm doing it for. And as a sign of repentance, just Lord clean me not as a blessed the ministry, you know, you know, just bless the thing. It has nothing to do with that. The last 30 day fast I did was in January of this year, and that was the one time that I went into a fast, asking the Lord to direct me to new things. And it was in the midst of that fast that I had a meeting with Paul, Paul Wicki at Culloden, and that was the only time out of these seasons where I've come in with a specific ask. If you would be so gracious to, to direct me and lead me and with obviously there's no obligation on the Lord's part to do that.

Norm Funk:
And he was gracious to me in that, but, yeah, I, I appreciate I,

Norm Funk:
I love this, my wife loves me more so in those times where she says it's, it's hard, right, because you're not eating and, you know, you have some days where you just go, I've got to get out of here. I can't be around food. But she always says, oh, this is the sweetest time for us because you're so dialed in and it's sad, that, that has to be the case. But there is something about the sweetness of fasting where you really, every moment you're awake, are just really focused on the Lord and the strength of the spirit.

Norm Funk:
And so I give, I give credit to Brett for being the model and the example for me and said,

Rob Thiessen:
Well again, This wasn't wasn't a big rock idea, but it's, it's just interesting that the conversation goes there and they appreciate what you're sharing. And again, for our listeners, like we're not advocating that you just jump into a 30 day fast. Notice that Norm did say, he is partial, he has some juice because there's a lot of, if you do tackle it, it's not a very encouraging process at the outset.

Rob Thiessen:
It feels like it highlights everything wrong about you. You don't have energy. You don't have focus. Your, you're wondering about food. You're annoyed, you're irritated. And, and, and but all of that seems to be a part of the process that the Lord uses to, to, to bring humility. And you just you just realize, gosh, without food, I just don't have them. I don't have much energy to bring to the table. I don't feel like I'm thinking clearly and. Right. And yet, slowly, slowly, like, like you're witnessing to you, you experience that the Lord is enough. He's teaching you. And sometimes he's doing things that feel completely tangential to, to what you started with. Like, it just it doesn't bear any connection, apparently, to the fact that you're fasting. And yet that is where God meets you.

Norm Funk:
Right. And I. Yeah. And on a, you know, in terms of the revelation that takes place in those times, I don't know if it was my second or third time. You know, I went into a fast and I came out of it Rob thinking, all right God.

Norm Funk:
You know, what are you going to do now? All right, I fasted for 30 days and it was quiet and things actually got worse and the teaching became of those that we did, you know if, I don't get the grace of God, I still in this, in this season of, I'm going to do this, and you're going to do this. And it was no, your fast is about pursuing me. You got more of me. You had sweet times with me. Stop equating what you're doing or presuming what you're doing is going to all of a sudden lead to whatever. And, you know, and those are good lessons or hard lesson. Good luck.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah, totally. And that it just reminds me of how Dallas Willard talks about the discipline saying, you know, you're not doing this to earn points and you're not doing this to,to leverage results with the Lord.

Rob Thiessen:
You're doing it to position yourself to where you can, you can lay hold better lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of you, you know. Right. And you're, you're putting yourself at his disposal really to say, well, OK, whatever it is you want to do now, I'm listening. I'm attentive.. That's really good. Hey, let's go. We, we just we got to talk now. We have a few just a few minutes left to talk about it. Too long. I'm sorry. No, no, it's great. This is a good conversation. We're talking about, about the Lord, how the Lord might be leading us to live missionally, to lead missionally. And so now you're looking at an invitation to, that came from Culloden. This is a big move, a big transition. So, again, we're talking with Brett and, and Matt Glezos about churches that basically said, hey, we're at a place where, we're ready to sort of, you know, on the bell curve of the life of the church. We feel like we've been declining. We don't see a future, but we see an opportunity here to hand the baton to, to, to the next generation, to the next thing that God is doing. So, what happened at Culloden, as far as you know? And I know it's still very much happening. Tell us the stage you're at and what, what were some of the dynamics that God was at work in this church to allow it to surrender their church to to this new venture?

Norm Funk:
So long story, somewhat short. I had a meeting with Paul Wicki, the the lead pastor of Culloden, back in January. And just to catch up with them, I was scheduled to preach and teach there about a couple of weeks after our meeting. So this is pre covid, January going into February. And in our meeting, he said to me that he believes that it's come time that he steps down, Culloden shuts down, and would I consider replanting? I can't remember the exact language, but. But starting a new ministry there. The elders were brought into the process, you know, a day or two later we met together, they agreed that this was a proposal that should go ahead, that the Lord was leading, leading Culloden to this place. They brought it to the body and made the proposal. And then covid hit in full measure. So everything shut down. The proposal was taken off the table. More important, things were at hand. And then the elders came around in the end of May saying that we would like to move, move forward with the closure of Culloden, bring at least that part of this story to the people, allowing them to either affirm it or not. And so we did that in June. They took a month to pray and consider and ask questions if they had further questions. And then they voted on it in July, July, I think twenty or twenty first.

Norm Funk:
And so the details is Culloden officially will close as a ministry next Sunday or this Sunday, September 20th, and that we will replant a church on the property in the church of Culloden, former Culloden church, by God's grace, then in January. And so the idea is we use the, we use the replant language really to help people understand that we're planting a new thing, but it's built on the legacy of faithful ministry for fifty two years, Culloden has been a faithful gospel preaching, Jesus loving community outreaching ministry for 52 years. I mean, Rob, you know how hard it is for churches to exist for fifty two years and they have been faithful for 52 years. And their heart is to see the gospel continue to increase by way of that, you know, that venue, the building, the site, which is a wonderful site. For, if God so terries for another fifty two years and further, furthermore. And so why, why did they come to this point? Well, and this is always the hard part of the conversation. Right. Why do churches come to the point where they feel like this is, this is the option or the only option for them? I, I think they saw decline. You know, I think they saw a leadership vacuum. I don't mean that about Paul. I mean that about the, you know,I just think they, they saw some needs there. And made the decision that we don't want to just continue on in this way.

Norm Funk:
We want to see if there's opportunity to venture forth. And, you know, when people, and you didn't ask me this question specifically, but when, what, when I see replant work. So you talked about Brett, you talk about Matt Glezos and some of the things, the reason why I'm so excited about replant work or revitalisation work and what Culloden have done, has done the same thing with, you know, self-help back in the day. Same thing with Hyde Creek back in the day is it's built on the humility of the leadership that is there now. Paul Wicki's humility, the elders humility, their grace that was extended, their passion for the gospel. Why does it work? It works because God gives grace to the humble and these ministries and why they flourish. It's because God steps into the melody of the Paul Wicki's and of the elders, the three J's I call them, Jason, John and Jeff, who are part of that ministry. They're humble individuals that go, look, this is where we're at. This is what we think needs to happen. We need to step down and God invades that. And so it's I don't think it's because a Brett or a Norm or a Matt or whoever come into it, I think God says, I'm going to go and I'm going to bless the humility of the leaders that have said we want to do this.

Norm Funk:
And that's wonderful. That's gospel stuff. I know, Brett, Matt, I certainly know myself good. Those two guys are good guys, but it's built primarily on the foundation of the, of the great humility of the, of the leadership who say, this is where we're at, this is where we feel the Lord is taking us and praise God for that. And so, so, yeah, it's hard to you know, you've got to look at the the metrics. You've got to look at the numbers. And everybody knows, you know, whether you're looking at, you know, the Tom Rayner's of the world or, or whoever that, you know, pull out the numbers. But it. It is, and I know I'm repeating myself, it's built on the humility, the gracious humility of the leadership that say this is where we need to go. And I think God blesses the, he blesses the crud out of it. And I just think that's wonderful.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, well, that's part of the humility is the cost.

Rob Thiessen:
And I know you've talked a lot about that, too, Norm, over the years. As I've heard you speak about planting, you're talking about the cost that's, that's there. It always, you die to yourself, you die to something by giving something away. And you experience that is as West Side pastor, planting The Shore and Christ City and Reality churches. You're giving away leaders, you're giving away energy and resources. And Culloden leaders did the same thing and. Yeah. And we don't want to.

Norm Funk:
Sorry.

Rob Thiessen:
I was going to say, we don't, there's a lot of pain that goes with that and there's a pain of loss and not everybody at the church understands it. So, but it was interesting that church took a very a very strong vote. You know, it wasn't, it wasn't easy. There was a, I was at you know, I was at some of the meetings. Yeah.

Rob Thiessen:
There was, there was pain, there was pain being expressed by people. But in the end, there was, there was a very gratifying, unifying confirmation, a strong vote, which, which is amazing.

Norm Funk:
Yeah. What I, what I loved when I talked to Paul about I obviously wasn't there for the vote part. And I think what was so affirming and hearing from Paul was the vote wasn't, hey, we want to affirm this because, you know, we believe this or we believe the leadership, that it wasn't that, and I'm thankful. It was no, we believe this is what the Lord is leading us to.

Norm Funk:
And again, I come back to, to the foundation of this, and that is again the faithfulness, this mission, the grace, the humility of, of Culloden, that, that ministry now. And again, I can't wait, Rob. I can't wait for the first baptism of Midtown in that, in that building and, and saying to the people, if you are part of Culloden and you've come with us, would you stand because this is part of your ongoing ministry.

Norm Funk:
Right?

Norm Funk:
And just bless you. Bless you for your faithfulness and your courage and bless you for, through tears and angst being a part of it. Because this is the fruit and it's, it's his kingdom. And because of your faithfulness, we didn't, you know, you didn't sell the building, tear it down and put a condo on it, that there's another ministry built on your legacy that's growing and that's wonderful.

Norm Funk:
And I can't wait for that day. And I'll invite you to that day because you were a huge part of that meeting where you stood up at the mic and said, look, this is what's going on. This is a good thing. It's hard, but it's good. And unless the seed dies, it doesn't bear fruit. And that, again, that is the God. We have to die to die to things daily.

Rob Thiessen:
And so, hey, as we wrap up that, I know that people are going to be praying for you. And, you know, this is a crazy time to, to launch a church. It's Covid. It's like we were talking about before. There's no manual for planting a church in Covid. But how well, what would you, what, how would you encourage people who are praying for you and for the church as you look into this goal that you have for a January launch, whatever that looks like and see where we're at. But, you know, how can people pray for you? What's in your heart?

Norm Funk:
No, thanks. I first and foremost for, for me right now. What when people ask and when I get together with I have a group of guys that I pray with, is discernment for those people who are thinking about being part of this. So people from outside of, of Colloden, people inside just ask, is this something that the Lord is calling you to? And and if he's not, then you either. For those who are part of ministries now, please stay. I don't, I don't want people coming just simply because they like new things or they know me or whoever, that's and, for Culloden, for those individuals that they don't stay. They need new ministries, you know, to go to. So discernment for that, that's, that's a big part of just the immediate, immediate calendar in terms of what's going on. The other thing that we pray about in, in addition to that a lot, first and foremost, one of those top one or two items is just the community around Culloden. When people look at the Midtown logo, the Midtown logo, the MT, everybody thinks that's just Midtown. That's actually the streets around Culloden. So if you go on MapQuest and look at the three streets, so on one one side, it's Knight Street and Culloden and then the other, street escapes me, but then forty third and then the dot is actually, we are committed to reaching out to that community. And Culloden has already done that. We just want to continue building on that and so be praying about the community between forty first, forty ninth, Fraser Street and Knight Street. There's a thousand homes that are in that area and we want to make an absolute impact and be a beacon. I've never pastored a local church. I, Willingdon wasn't. Yeah, they were in a community, but Willingdon drew from everywhere. West Side was in rentals and then downtown they had people around it obviously in high rises. But this is then, you know, people are on their front yard across the street neighborhood.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah.

Norm Funk:
So we want to make an impact in that area, desperately. And the thing that's great is the people I talk to who want to be a part of this have that same passion. Even some people who are living in places like Kerrisdale and Main Street going, I think I'm going to move there. Like, that's crazy. Yeah, but just what God is doing. And so a gospel impact built again on the legacy of the great ministry of Culloden in that area. And then, yeah, we have practical needs, financial needs and we have gift needs, you know, in terms of people in their, you know, roles in areas, if we take care of the other, that, that will figure itself out, if you could pray about that. As people listen, I would be so excited about that and thankful for that.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, yeah. Oh, that's excellent, Norm. And to our listening community, you've, you've heard the invitation to uphold the Midtown Church plant and Norm and Nicole. And it's been really great to spend an hour with you, Norm. And, yeah, we're, we're so blessed by how the Lord has been at work in your life and, and on going through, through this next phase, too. So, yeah. Thanks again for being with us listeners on the Pastor to pastor podcast and we'll look forward to to our next time together. Have a great day.

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