Chris Douglas began working this summer as the regional director and U.S. church planting mobilizer with MB Mission and C2C USA. He replaces Scott Thomas, who has shifted to working part-time for C2C due to his wife’s ongoing health issues.
Douglas lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife Dianne. They have three daughters, one son-in-law and a granddaughter on the way. He is a graduate of Lutheran Bible Institute and was a youth pastor and young adult pastor in the U.S. before serving as senior pastor at Central Heights Church, a Mennonite Brethren congregation in Abbotsford, BC. He joined C2C in 2011.
In this interview Douglas talks with CL freelance writer Kathy Heinrichs Wiest via email about his call to ministry and his work with C2C USA.
CL: How did you come to faith in Christ?
CD: I was baptized as an infant by my great uncle who was a Lutheran pastor. At age 14, though, my parents sent me to Bible camp where I surrendered my life to Jesus and was baptized on confession of my faith.
CL: How did your call to ministry come about?
CD: It was very much like Jonah’s call to go to Nineveh. I started as a youth pastor in a Lutheran church but decided I wasn’t cut out for the ministry and began preparing for law school. I was on the run from God and his call on my life and worked for several years in the insurance industry. But God eventually gripped my heart and called me back into ministry.
CL: Has church planting always been a primary focus of your ministry?
CD: My first pastorate after God called me back into ministry was at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Wash. Overlake’s leadership had a mindset of gaining by losing, so they were a church that planted churches. Since then, church planting has woven its way in and out of all my ministry, including helping to plant two ethnic churches while at Central Heights in Abbotsford, BC.
CL: What is a recent church planting story that inspires you?
CD: Maple Ridge Community Church (MRCC) in Maple Ridge, BC, is a church of some 250 people with the same kingdom mindset and passion to reach the lost. Two years ago, they sent 50 adults with a church planter to plant Jubilee Church. Dianne and I attended MRCC before moving to Boise, and they were already full again and trying to figure out how to make room for more. Personally, I think they should plant again.
CL: Why did you come back to serve in the U.S.?
CD: The U.S. is the country of my birth—a country I love dearly. God is moving in our country and has raised up men and women who are passionate about reaching the lost. If, in some small way, God would use Dianne and me to be a blessing to our Mennonite Brethren tribe and serve him in what he’s already doing here in the U.S., I’d be thrilled.
CL: What have you learned through involvement in MB church planting in the Canadian context?
CD: For some reason, God’s hand seems to be on a small little tribe of believers in Canada called Mennonite Brethren who live in a country in the shadow of the much larger United States. What is happening among our Canadian MB brothers and sisters in the arena of church planting and influencing other believers is disproportionate to our size. It is something that only God can do.
CL: C2C has grown into an interdenominational agency. What do you foresee for the Mennonite Brethren in a national church planting endeavor in the U.S.?
CD: God is always taking what is seemingly small and insignificant and using it for his glory. You can look back throughout history and see God taking the smallest nation, the smallest tribe, the smallest clan and using them to be a blessing, to chart a new course, to fulfill his purposes. I’m convinced that God is up to something that will drive us to our knees, dependent upon nothing other than his indwelling power and presence. We have a role to play, however big or small that is, in being used of God to reach the lost locally, nationally and globally.
CL: How will you interact with USMB churches?
CD: My responsibility in this new role is to come alongside of MB churches, pastors, districts and leaders to help them, to serve them in accomplishing the mission and vision that God has given them. I’m looking to be a resource for them, a catalyzer to help them in sharing and living out their passion and vision and to be a support for them as they obediently follow Jesus’ command to go and make disciples.
CL: How is the U.S. context different from the Canadian?
CD: Today, in terms of secularization, Canada is much further along than the U.S. I’ve heard it said that Canada is so post-Christian that it’s pre-Christian. It’s come full circle. But we’re losing ground here in the U.S.—just a decade or two behind Canada in becoming a secular nation. And yet, I believe God is on the move. I’m encouraged by the people I’m meeting and getting to know as Dianne and I transition back home to the U.S. I’m heartened by the stories I hear from our MB tribe about mission that is taking place locally, nationally and globally.
CL: What are some challenges you anticipate?
CD: The challenges we face today as followers of Jesus are great. While we’re not facing persecution like in other parts of the world, increasingly we’re being marginalized because of our Christian faith. Further, as a nation it seems there is increasing division in our country between competing cultures, differing political ideologies, those who have and have not, between the secular and the sacred. I think the great challenge we face in this era of divisiveness is the maintaining of unity and the commonality of purpose. But that challenge is also our great opportunity! We have the chance to live out the fulfillment of Jesus’s high priestly prayer in John 17 and show the world who Jesus is through our unity and love for one another.
CL: What is a Scripture that motivates you in your work?
CD: My passion is for the fame, glory and renown of Jesus. Paul tells us in Ephesians 3 that through the church God’s wisdom is displayed and made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. I want to see that happen more and more as local expressions of Christ’s body are planted, grown and reproduced.
Kathy Heinrichs Wiest is a freelance writer who loves the smell of whole wheat bread in the oven, the feel of an orange being plucked from the tree and the view from her front porch in Kingsburg, California. On Sunday mornings you’ll find her in the fourth pew from the front on the left at Kingsburg MB Church, moved by the hymns and praise songs and inspired by the stories of God at work locally and around the world. She and her husband, Steve, own Dovetail Remodeling. They have two grown daughters, one son-in-law and a precious granddaughter.