Interview with Jonathan Lambert

Jonathan and Natasha are passionate about the local church. They have a heart to see people discover the love of Jesus, and the fullness of life that He came to offer everyone. That passion has led to great faith steps over the years, the greatest of which compelled them to relocate their family to Calgary, AB in the winter of 2012. Thus began the Experience Church journey. From the beginning the goal was to gather people around God’s vision to transform the city, nation and beyond. In this interview, Jonathan talks about church planting in Calgary and being part of the ARC Network.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, ministry history and current ministry role:

About myself…I’ll start with family and fill in some blanks from there. Natasha and I have been married for 13 years. We have 4 wild and amazing kids (Chloe, Ayzee, Tanix, Zarah). I like running, sports, and cookies. Ministry has always been part of my life. Natasha and I love the Church and creating environments for people to experience Jesus first hand. EC has simply been an extension of that passion to help people find Jesus.  


What led you into planting Experience Church in Calgary?  

We were led to plant a church because heaven and hell are real places. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The word EVERYONE haunts me because I know that in my family, my city, and in my nation, there are still people who don’t know Jesus. Experience Church began because we really believed we could do something to help people discover Jesus for the first time. Every week when another ‘Everyone’ walks in the door and gives their life to Jesus it makes all the hard work worth it. We ended up in Calgary for two reasons: 1. We love all four seasons and wanted our kids to grow up experiencing each of them (less spiritual reason). 2. In Acts 16 the apostle Paul is asked in a vision to go help the people in Macedonia. To do that, he plants a church in Philippi because it is a leading city in the region. We’ve always loved Canada…I mean I still cry at hockey games when the national anthem is played, and 18,000 people sing ‘God keep our Land’…so to reach Canada we looked for a leading city. Calgary was, and continues to be, on the forefront of industry and influence in our nation.  


You planted with a network called ARC and are now one of the main leaders in Canada…what is ARC?

ARC is the Association of Related Churches and we’re a growing family of churches who are committed to helping train and equip church planters and strengthen existing local churches in Canada. ARC is highly relational – in fact that’s really the key to who we are and what we do. Ministry life, leadership, and pastoral ministry can be all kinds of crazy, and we want to make sure that leaders don’t have to walk out their calling alone. We really believe that you can’t do ministry alone.  


ARC is seeing some great success in church planting…what has made it so successful?

Simplicity. ARC doesn’t over-complicate things. There is a system and strategy that has proven to be effective for launching churches and our process equips leaders with those necessary tools while allowing them to lead the spiritual pulse and dynamics of the church. God has plan, a leader has a vision, and ARC simply wants to help churches be life-giving and effective at doing what God is asking us all to do.  


How does ARC help denominations and churches multiply?

Each church and leader is very different. We all have unique blind spots that threaten to hold us back. ARC has resources, systems, training, coaching and we’re constantly working to build relationships across Canada, so we can learn from each other and lead more effectively. Denominations and churches often have great vision for multiplication and leaders with a passion for church planting, but aren’t sure how to equip that vision and passion to make a tangible difference. ARC offers a very extensive Church Planter & Campus Planter Training process for equipping leaders. We place special focus on how to engage their community, engage a growing team and engage with the financial resources necessary for a great start. The ARC Training has been developed over 17 years of church planting with more than 750 churches in countries and contexts worldwide.  


How do you think PAOC and ARC can have a greater connection?

I don’t say this to be cheesy, but Greater Connection is always found around the Great Commission. If our collective goal is really to build the Church, build people, and effectively help lost people find Jesus and discover their purpose, then we can work together to accomplish that. With any partnership, especially in the church world, things don’t work once we start trying to build our own brand or our own kingdom. PAOC is an incredible denomination with history, strength in leadership, vision, and passion for the nation. I think ARC has a plan and we’re looking for planters – I think the PAOC has planters with a passion to launch brand new local churches and they need a plan. Let’s work together to change the nation.  


Give us your 45-second elevator pitch for church multiplication in Canada.

Canada has roughly 36 million people and the most positive numbers suggest that approximately 11% identify as evangelical Christians. That doesn’t mean they have growing relationships with Jesus; just that when asked, they checked the Evangelical box on a survey. We still have 32 million people that need Jesus. If heaven and hell are real, then we have work to do, and God’s Plan A for humanity is the local church.