Outreach Lessons from the Statistically Most Secular City in North America with Jeremy Norton

Thanks for joining the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with Jeremy Norton, lead pastor at Mountainview Church in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.

Being a church leader in a place like the Yukon is a little like living in the future. Listen in as Jeremy shares how to engage with your neighbors and city in a post-Christian setting.

  • Challenges in today’s world. // Canada is post-Christian and more secular than the United States, giving us a glimpse of the direction the US is heading culturally. Whitehorse, Yukon in particular is 51% proclaimed atheist or agnostic, making it the most secular city in North America according to Statistics Canada. In addition to the spiritual climate, this area draws individuals with a deeply-rooted independent nature. There is a mix of strong conservatives, a large number of government employees, immigrants, and a population of native Americans, which can create a lot of tension. All of these elements make for hard soil where it’s a challenge to spread God’s word.
  • Be present. // When there is a high secular presence in a community, it’s a long process in building relationships and sharing the gospel, and you need to be patient. Work regularly in public settings and invite people to sit down and talk as you get to know them. Close your laptop and turn your full attention to them.
  • Don’t give up on the game. // As you dialog about faith, people may get angry at the answers to their questions and leave. Graciously allow that and don’t give up. It’s a long game and requires wait time—sometimes a process that can take weeks or months—for them to come back and talk again.
  • Build the relationship between you. // Don’t get caught up heavily on politics or ideologies with someone who isn’t a believer. These are the wrong areas to focus on initially; the relationship has to be built first so that they might trust you to share the gospel with them.
  • Listen to them. // If someone hasn’t given their life to Jesus, don’t let conversations focus on hot topics that cause so many arguments. Instead, ask personal questions and try to politely steer the conversation toward what they are personally struggling with. Move away from the big picture to the smaller one to focus on what they believe and feel.
  • Do, don’t just talk. // A highly secular culture is looking to see what you do, not so much what you say. Mountainview Church has the vision to serve their city to reach the city, and they meet felt needs in the community, whether it’s providing food during Thanksgiving, or serving the homeless in brutally cold temperatures.
  • The journey north. // Jeremy has released a book, Northern Roads: A Journey of Life and Leadership Serving on the 60th Parallel. In it he shares lessons God taught him during his journey which ultimately led to his work at Mountainview Church. He hopes to encourage people through his testimony, as well as help Christians understand that there are missions opportunities in the northern part of North American that are often overlooked.

Visit www.leadbiblically.com to learn more about Jeremy’s book, plus find information about workshops and retreats. You can also find a link to a YouVersion 5-Day Devotional Reading Plan related to Jeremy’s book. Visit Mountainview Church at mountainview.church.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Well hey, everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you’ve decided to tune in. It’s going to be a great conversation today. Super excited to have my friend, Jeremy Norton, with us. Jeremy is a pastor in a location that in some ways I think is like living in the future. Stick with me friends. Ah, he is at Mountainview Church which is in Whitehorse, Yukon in Canada, which is you could call it north. That’s about as north as I think this is the most northernly interview we’ve had. Jeremy is the lead pastor there. Jeremy, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here today.

Jeremy Norton — Thank you so much. I’m a fan of the podcast and you know you’ve been ah a good insight and resource for us as a church and for me as a leader. So yeah I’m pumped to do this.

Rich Birch — Ah, super sweet. Thank you for for saying that. Why don’t you fill out a little bit of the picture. Tell us about Mountainview; kind of give us to tell us about the church, and then maybe talk a little bit about your story.

Jeremy Norton — Totally, yeah. so Mountainview Church is in the city of White Horse. Now the city of Whitehorse is only 30,000 people so for most it would be like wait 30,000? Isn’t that like a town? Yeah, but it is the capital city of the Yukon. Ah, the Yukon is the territory right beside Alaska. Alaska is our neighbor – for any American listeners that would kind of give them a placing of where it is. It’s a territory, not a province. So we have 3 territories in Canada – very different than provinces and how they function in things, but a part of Canada. To give an idea the viewers or listeners on the ah land mass and population, It’s the same land mass as California ah, but there’s only 40,000 people…

Rich Birch — That’s amazing.

Jeremy Norton — …in the in the entire land mass…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Jeremy Norton — …with 30,000 of them living in Whitehorse. So 3 out of 4 people live… so that would be like imagine LA only has 30,000 people and the rest of California has another 10,000. That’s where…

Rich Birch — It’s amazing.

Jeremy Norton — That’s where I live. That’s how I function. Now the good part of that is that so goes Whitehorse, so goes the territory. So a huge evangelism effort in the city of Whitehorse – if you can reach Whitehorse, which is what we’re trying to do at Mountainview. You know, serve the city, reach the city. Um, it can have a massive impact. So yeah, that kind of gives you a little bit of an idea. I I served for my first ministry was as a youth pastor in Alaska. I served a bit in Alberta, but I grew up in Ontario. I actually met my wife in the Muskokas and so I’ve been around different places, but landed in my calling for the past eight years here in the Yukon.

Rich Birch — Love it. Well, there’s a lot I want to dig into, and I appreciate you giving that that overview and the sense to kind of you know, set up a little bit ah of the you know the tension that Whitehorse is in. The fact that it’s you know it really is in like you say 3 or 4 people in the territory live in there and that’s just incredible. Incredible statistics. The thing that caught my attention and as we were kind of connecting, getting ready for this I really do think that the spiritual makeup of your community might in some ways give us a view into the future a little bit. Talk to us about that. What does that look like? What’s the kind of spiritual dynamics in Whitehorse?

Jeremy Norton — Ah, yeah, so you have um… so for those that are Canadian or understand Canada. Canada is definitely post-Christian, more secular sensed way further down the road than the United States would be. So the United States a lot of times we say hey, look to Canada to kind of look to what’s happening culturally in the future. I think the UK and Europe is even further down the line than Canada is.

Jeremy Norton — But when we look at Canada as a whole and you look at statistics Canada, the city of Whitehorse and Yukon territory has actually has the highest percentage um of atheist agnostic. It’s the most secular city – Whitehorse is the most secular city in Canada, even more than Vancouver, Toronto.

Rich Birch — Wow wow.

Jeremy Norton — We have around 51% that are that kind of like proclaimed to be atheist or agnostic.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton —And according to Statistics Canada. So that makes Whitehorse a challenge…

Rich Birch — Sure.

Jeremy Norton — …in a big way. Um, ah the ideology you know one out of two people that you talk to either rejects the idea of God entirely, or see absolutely no like there’s no importance to it to think about it.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Jeremy Norton — So imagine that every other person that’s how you interact with, and so trying to establish churches there, try to establish evangelism efforts there, it is it is hard soil. And and based on the research based on the stats Whitehorse would be the hardest soil. Ah, perhaps ah, perhaps based on the stats in North America…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — …which is crazy to think about.

Rich Birch — Right. Now why… Yeah yeah, that is crazy, and I and I want to really dive into and talk through what you’re learning on you know, particularly the outreach and evangelism front. But before we get there, why is that? What what is it what’s your theory? What’s the theory of why ah, this community is such a magnet for ah, you know, for like you’re saying agnostic atheist kind of the post-christian culture?

Jeremy Norton — Yeah, so there’s the the big factor is the is the deep, deep rooted independent nature. That’s probably the thing that binds everyone who’s in the Yukon, is there is a strong independence in them. So I… it would be interesting to do like an Enneagram study on the Yukon versus versus the rest of Canada, like I don’t know if it’s just it it draws obviously different personalities. But strong convictions heavy independence.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — Sometimes the Yukon’s nicknamed as the colorful 5% of Canada. Ah, in in all the people that kind of don’t fit in the rest of the country, they escape to the Yukon.

Rich Birch — Okay, okay.

Jeremy Norton — Um, so so that’s one piece is no matter what your conviction is in Whitehorse, everyone is deeply independent and it kind of gathers that type of people. The other piece to it is ah Whitehorse is the kind of the hub for northern sovereignty in Canada. For anyone that’s kind of followed you know geopolitical stuff in regards to the north and natural resources and these types of things. It’s a, you know, it’s ah it’s a hub. You’ve got Alaska, Canada, and Russia – you got all these people all these nations that really that we found the north will be important in the future.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — And so there’s like this arctic sovereignty, northern sovereignty thing going on. So Whitehorse is the hub of that which increases the level of government employees and government presence.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Jeremy Norton — So we’re 33% government employee.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Jeremy Norton — So one out of three people either…

Rich Birch — That’s amazing.

Jeremy Norton — …works for like the feds, the territory, or municipal government, or subsequent, you know, organization. So then when you have a high government presence, high independent presence…

Rich Birch — Interesting.

Jeremy Norton — …and then we also have our second ah, you know so we have mining, which is like one of our major major private businesses. Then the second is guiding, like hunting and fishing guiding into as well.

Rich Birch — Okay, interesting.

Jeremy Norton — So so for anyone that understands mining, fishing, hunting…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — …that is fairly super conservative.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Jeremy Norton — Then you have this high government populace…

Rich Birch — Right. Interesting, interesting.

Jeremy Norton — …that’s mixed in these two groups typically aren’t big fans of each other…

Rich Birch — Interesting.

Jeremy Norton — And so so and then add in a whole other later layer that that we have 25% first nations.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — So one out of 4 people is first nations so that adds an element.

Rich Birch — Fascinating.

Jeremy Norton — And then another strange thing that’s that’s come up in the past five years the Canadian government has allowed fast track immigration for ah for certain certain ah countries. One of the biggest that Canada’s found is Filipino population. So right now if if if ah if someone from the Philippines comes to ah Whitehorse, Yellowknife, or or a Iqaluit for the first five years they can get kind of fast tracked permanent residency.

Jeremy Norton — So the last little mix is one out of ten people – we’re 10 percent Filipino in our city. So…

Rich Birch — Interesting. What a fascinating mix.

Jeremy Norton — Yeah, so if you add ah it is such a strange mix such a strange mix.

Rich Birch — Yeah interesting.

Jeremy Norton — Um, so all of that creates kind of it’s just a really mixed bag and there’s there’s tensions. It’s just the way it is. It’s people.

Rich Birch — Yeah, interesting, interesting. That’s so cool. Well I’d love to hear about what you’re learning on kind of the outreach and evangelism you know side of things.

Jeremy Norton — Yeah.

Rich Birch — So you step into that culture. You’ve been here for a while, ah, what’s working? How are you engaging the community? What does that look like?

Jeremy Norton — Yeah, probably the um the the biggest thing I think is is presence. Um I I choose to kind of work in coffee shops. I have a little studio here that I do some recording in but at home. But um if you’re in a heavy atheist agnostic culture, it’s not that I’m going to share the gospel and someone’s going to be like, oh I need Jesus. Now they might. Holy Spirit can drop and that can happen. But when you have ah such a high secular presence, ah, such a heavy um, spiritual kind of opposition, I would say, it’s a long game.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — You you may have someone that asks questions about things; they may sit down at a coffee shop and they kind of know, okay, why are you always here? You know I see on the laptop. You know I see you doing things. Um but something we talked about before is ah something really important for any pastor or leader that’s kind of working in a public setting that wants to reach the public, one of the things I do is if someone sits down or I invite them sit down, I close my laptop.

Rich Birch — I like that.

Jeremy Norton — And closing the laptop is one of the very first cues. Um that it’s like I I am willing to take the time.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — And you have to understand this is going to be a long conversation, and they actually may get frustrated, leave, and you got to kind of politely allow that. But they’re going to come back. And so to reach an atheist agnostic culture, you need to be patient. They may come back to you three weeks later, three months later, and said hey, you know we were talking about it. Just because they may not like what you’re talking about in the moment, talking about Jesus, talking about sin, or the need for a savior, and all these different things, you can’t give up. It’s a long game.

Jeremy Norton — And and for me, I’m a fairly conservative guy and there can always be a temptation, always a temptation to get into kind of more conservative ideology, which maybe I’m more lean to as kind of more on the evangelical reform side. But I have to pause that and understand that this person they they are going to reject so much of that.

Rich Birch — Interesting.

Jeremy Norton — And so I can’t get caught up too heavily in the issues…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — …with someone who’s not a believer.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — I have to lay that aside and say okay, my relationship with this person has to be built so that they might trust me to to share the gospel with them.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — But they’re feeling me out and they’re super skeptical. They’re super independent, and so they’re going to push back just about it as much as everything. I don’t know I don’t know if that all makes sense.

Rich Birch — That makes sense. Yeah I’d love for you to pull that apart a little bit more. I love or I’m intrigued, interested in this idea of you know, how do we how do we stay connecting? What are you learning about staying connecting relationally with people over an extended period of time? I know I was just joking with a friend, oh in the last couple months, about how you know when we’re engaged in those kind of conversations, um I know my tendency is like I just want to see this deal close now.

Jeremy Norton — Yes.

Rich Birch — Like can’t let’s let’s get let’s help how do we get this person across the line, which can um which can just short circuit so much, right? A part of what we’ve got to do is be committed over the long haul. How are you balancing that out with also the need to be truthful, and to not soft pedal, and to not be like to steer away from the issues? …because I know that’s not who you are. How does that balance out? How does that work out for you as you’re engaging with folks?

Jeremy Norton — Yeah, and for me I’m I’m not those who would know me would would say I’m not a patient guy.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Jeremy Norton — Um I’m I’m ah um, I’m pretty I’m an Enneagram Eight. I’m I’m pretty future-minded and and I I like change. I like making decisions. I like moving forward. But I’ve just had to understand that um I have a higher expectation, a way higher expectation, for those who have given their life to Jesus. I i if someone does not have the Holy Spirit, I cannot…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — …I cannot expect that they understand any of the deeper issues about identity, sexuality…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton —You know all the other hot button issues that maybe we get we get tempted to go into. Now if someone is is a believer, I’ll call them to certain things. But if they’re not, if they if they don’t have the Holy Spirit, they haven’t given the life to Jesus, you have you have to kind of politely, kind of share where you stand. Um but try to steer the conversation ah toward what they’re personally struggling with.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Jeremy Norton — And and you you have to move away from the big picture and move to the small picture. So ask really personal questions.

Jeremy Norton — You know if if if they’re really jazzed about talking about identity, ask them like where do you find your identity? What is your greatest value? So lots of questions.

Rich Birch — Love that.

Jeremy Norton — Um, everyone including probably you and I loves talking about themselves. So…

Rich Birch — Sure, sure, sure.

Jeremy Norton — Right? It’s human nature. And so if you ask them those those questions um very few people I think in our day and age want to… very few people in the church—this might sound controversial but—very few people in the church want to give an atheist or agnostic airtime.

Rich Birch — Oh interesting.

Jeremy Norton — Do you see what I’m saying?

Rich Birch — Sure, sure.

Jeremy Norton — …like they kind of they’re like, I don’t want to hear this. I don’t you know and…

Rich Birch — Right. But we’ve got to listen, right? We’ve got to listen. We have to, right? Like…

Jeremy Norton — You gotta. You have to.

Rich Birch — Yeah, absolutely. Yeah I found we we’ve been like, I love one I love Alpha. We use it at our our church.

Jeremy Norton — Excellent.

Rich Birch — And one of the things I love about their um, you know the culture there is around just simply listening, listening to people’s stories, and um and letting letting some heresy fly, you know, letting some some bad ideas float out there…

Jeremy Norton — Oh yeah.

Rich Birch — Because you’re building up relational equity to then end up, you know, helping them take steps closer, you know, towards Jesus. So how does that translate—I get that on the personal front; I love that idea I think that’s a um, you know it’s even practical coaching for us as we’re thinking about leading, what are we doing to be visible? What are we doing to be relationally connected? I think those are all good things. How does that work itself out and in the church context?

Jeremy Norton — Oh yeah.

Rich Birch — What does that look like kind of corporately as you’re ministering in your context?

Jeremy Norton — So yeah, that’s a great question. So ah, corporately a secular highly secular culture, heavy atheist agnostic – they are looking to see what you do, not so much what you say. And so for us we’re we’re gearing up for so we we have this so in our vision we want to serve our city to reach our city. That’s the big part as a church. And so we’re gearing up for for projects that are coming up.

Jeremy Norton — We do a project called Stuff the Bus where we get a school bus in front of our biggest grocery store. We make connections with the Whitehorse food bank and we we connect with people as they’re walking in and we do it on Thanksgiving weekend. And we say hey, Thanksgiving’s awesome -we’re going to eat a ton of food. There’s people who don’t have food, would you take this little list and would you think about maybe picking up 1 or 2 of these items…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — …while you’re doing your Thanksgiving shopping, and and then we’ll actually put it on this school bus, and we’re gonna drive this school bus over to the food bank and stock all the shelves before Thanksgiving.

Rich Birch — Wow, wow. Yeah, that’s amazing.

Jeremy Norton — And so we’re we’re not like we’re not standing outside of the grocery store sharing the gospel. And and I understand there’s there’s maybe like one side of evangelicalism like you have them captive audience, like that’s what need to say buy groceries, and give your life to Jesus. Like no no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. They are expecting a bait and switch. This this is simply an initiative to serve our city.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — And maybe, maybe—Lord willing, through the Spirit’s leading—we’ll get an opportunity to reach them at a later time. They may show up on a Sunday morning because they’re like I don’t know who this church is but they stuffed a school bus full of food for the food bank.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — Okay, that resonates with me. These guys…

Rich Birch — Right, right, right.

Jeremy Norton — This the the hypocrisy of every church is the hypocrisy of humanity. We we don’t always get it right.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — We’re still a sinful people a part of Mountainview. We struggle sometimes. We make mistakes. But at least they can say, okay well they’re trying really hard.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Jeremy Norton — And then we do a couple other initiatives. So this this ah another thing that just is is ah is a showing thing we have something called Backpacks of Joy.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Jeremy Norton — And so after the school season, encourage people to buy up all the backpacks around town that are on sale when when the back to school is in the fall, and keep them. And we stuff them full of gifts and cards and stuff…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — …and then on Christmas, right before Christmas Eve we actually walk the streets of Whitehorse.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Jeremy Norton — Um, and at that time we’re talking like you know negative 30 could be negative 40 by that time.

Rich Birch — That’s amazing.

Jeremy Norton — And there’s still we still have a homeless community.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — And we have a shelter in stuff, but there’s still people on the street when it’s that cold.

Rich Birch — Wow, wow.

Jeremy Norton — And and You know, giving them things – what their mitts, they’re got mitts, they got hands in pockets, they got… so what we’ve done is we put together their Christmas gifts in a backpack and then we hand out those backpacks. Now in there, yes, there’s a bible. There’s some information about our church, but really, it’s like food and gifts and stuff so that so that people that are are unfortunately living on the street they can get a Christmas gift. So these are these are just a couple of the ways of some of the stuff we do…

Rich Birch — Right, right. Yeah, I love that.

Jeremy Norton — Um to serve, to reach.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s great. And you know there’s this we see have seen this consistently, again with churches in all different contexts, that churches that are making a difference, that are growing, that are reaching people, they do have this kind of demonstration and proclamation double…

Jeremy Norton — Ah, yes.

Rich Birch — …you know, double barrel thing, right? We we there should be things that the church does that you can point at that the community might say that’s a good thing. We think it’s a God thing, but we can we can agree on like, hey this is a good thing to do like Stuff the Bus, Backpacks of Joy. There’s going to be very few people in town that are going to say, wow, that’s a bad thing. I don’t know. You know you’d have to be a pretty hardened atheist to be like man, I wish that church would stop stuffing that bus full of food. You know, like you know of course…

Jeremy Norton — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …of course you’re going to think that’s a good thing. So and obviously that’s not the end of the conversation, that’s the beginning of the conversation, but love that.

Jeremy Norton — Yeah, and then there’s like some unique stuff that happens um related to kind of the north. Like people don’t people don’t know about so third third Monday in January is called Blue Monday. Now Blue Monday is the darkest time. It’s it’s not the darkest day as physically, but it’s the darkest time in the north.

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — The highest levels of depression, highest levels of suicide, domestic abuse, and everything – it’s up the third Monday – it’s called Blue Monday this is because the nostalgia of Christmas and New Year’s is over. Most people are totally fatigued of volunteerism…

Rich Birch — Right.

Jeremy Norton — …and charity fatigued from the Christmas season. All the credit card bills are coming in. It’s dark. It’s cold. And so Blue Monday is actually a time it’s a huge need. And we actually partner with Village Church one of the kind of fastest growing biggest churches in Canada. We partner with them to do another initiative called Boxes of Light where we’ve worked with community organizations to put together a help card of all the different resources someone might might need—whether they’re in addiction or depression or suicide and stuff like that—in ah in like this really nice packaged card within this box of of gifts, like hand warmers and and and food and things like that. And and it’s actually like a really nice gift and it’s three weeks after Christmas.

Jeremy Norton — And we we work with community organizations – ah First nNations Health and AA and different organizations and we don’t even know who gets these. We actually just drop them off to them. So there’s kind of some you know some security there for who’s struggling. And they know and same with there’s place called Kaushee’s Place which is the women’s transition home for battered women children. So we just hand it to these agencies and then in the at Blue Monday in the darkest time of the year in the middle of January…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Jeremy Norton — …when there’s when resources are at their kind of slimmest, Village Church helps Mountainview bless these people. And and last year and this year Village Church actually brought a team up from greater Vancouver. So you can imagine the culture shock of for them.

Rich Birch — Ah yes.

Jeremy Norton — And they actually help us with the project and they actually come up to the north in the darkest, coldest time to really experience, okay, what this is… It’s hard to believe this is a first world nation and, you know, this is Canada, but um, you know it that people live here.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Jeremy Norton — This is dark and cold and depressing. And not that there isn’t those things other places in Canada.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah, that’s interesting.

Jeremy Norton — So anyway these these are the different types of things that are that are helping us have conversations about salvation eventually.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. Now you just earlier this year actually released a book called “Northern Roads: A Journey of Life and Leadership Serving on the 60th Parallel” – love that.

Jeremy Norton — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Um tell me about this book. Why did you write this book? What you know it’s a lot of time effort and energy to pull together. Ah, what what led you to the place that said like, hey this is probably good time now to pull this together?

Jeremy Norton — So working in Calgary, working hospitality. My a a mentor of mine I was just serving in the church like crazy and he’s like you know some people do this full time. And so I was like oh okay, so I went back to school, bible college. And ah then I started putting out resumes, and my wife was from Alaska and so I I actually went on youthpastor.com because I was going to be a youth pastor to start. And kind of internet dated this church in Soldat in Alaska near where she grew up.

Jeremy Norton — And and I and then got hired there. And that really started kind of my northern journey and and where God was fostering my call to the north. And I started, not only did I struggle with American-Canadian transition, and we both speak english, but those two countries are so incredibly different. And I think most Canadians and most Americans don’t fully comprehend…

Rich Birch — Yeah, understand that. Yep, it’s true.

Jeremy Norton — …how radically different we are. And so went through that, as well as living in Alaska. And there’s just there’s so many different things and so many lessons learned. There was tragedies ah, that I walked through, personally and in our church that I served in. And and there was huge highs that like huge lessons learned. And it was actually my mom at the time—it was like twelve years ago now—she’s like, Jeremy these are crazy things – you need to write these down. I was like, okay, I’ll start writing them down.

Jeremy Norton — So I started writing them down and then um, my journey continues, settle in the Yukon. And then I start kind of looking back at some of this, and I start putting it together, and I’m like, wow maybe this is a book. Maybe maybe I could put this together. And so I did and I sent it out to some publishers and I’m super thankful and gracious that Ambassador International picked me up. And their editing team worked with me.

Jeremy Norton — And um, so yeah I was able to launch a book that basically tells the story my northern roads journey. How a kid from Southwestern Ontario near the Michigan border grew up in like a city like one of the most southern places in Canada. Um, how I ended up, you know, in Alaska and in the Yukon. So yeah, and then all the different lessons that God taught me through that. And so it’s been extremely successful. People have been really gracious and have enjoyed it and so yeah, it’s been fun. Really fun.

Rich Birch — Yeah, wow. Well, that’s that’s cool I’d love for people to pick up a copy of this. I think it could be a great read. Um, you know it has that kind of memoir feel – great kind of story. You know ties into some of the the northern, you know, mystique, which I think could be fun. There could be folks that are out there ah that maybe as a gift, or as you know a friend that you know you could pass on. When you wrote this, what kind of transformation or change were you hoping would happen in people who were reading it? What’s kind of what are you writing for? What are you hoping will will take place in ah in the lives of your readers?

Jeremy Norton — Um, a couple things. Like the first thing is just um to under to under to become a better leader. I think that’s probably the one thing. I I there was a lot of very biblical, very spiritual lessons that God taught me and I think anyone ah, can see those lessons. And at the end of every chapter I kind of say okay here’s how this might apply in your situation. So that’s kind of the first thing. I want people to grow ah as leaders grow in their faith and and that’s possible because there’s there is so much scripture that I’ve tried to put in the book. Especially at the end of each chapter.

Jeremy Norton — Ah, but the other thing is for people to understand um, especially maybe people who have only ever lived in a bigger city and and for those that that live in the southern part of Canada, and the major cities that strip across the US border and those that that live in the United States, ah, that there is a big wide world and there’s way… there’s different challenges and there’s different things that people walk through. And you know sometimes people might think, oh, they’ll think oh missions—and you know and and I’m not saying please don’t hear this. You know I’m not saying we don’t need to go to Africa and Asia and South America and stuff like that. But so often ah the North—Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut—the whole strip of North America often gets missed. And yet this is in our own continent.

Jeremy Norton — And and there’s massive struggles. And so maybe maybe someone will be called to visit, just maybe for fun. But maybe someone will be called to serve the north as well. And that would be amazing.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Jeremy Norton — That would be the the biggest win is if someone read my book and was like you know what? The Holy Spirit’s calling in me that I need to serve in the north.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Jeremy Norton — Ah, there’s a need so that would be great.

Rich Birch — That’s so cool. So we could pick up copies of this at Amazon, or there other places we want to send people to pick up a copy of of Northern Roads?

Jeremy Norton — Anywhere books are sold. Chapters Indigo, christianbook.com, literally Ambassador International has done such a good job at at making sure that it that it is everywhere. You can just Google it.

Jeremy Norton — Ah, the other thing that you could do is you can go to leadbiblically.com which is my site. And there’s lots of resources there. There’s courses and workshops that we can do either online, in person, for for your church, or your team, whether you’re in nonprofit, homeschool co-ops, Christian school, churches. Whatever you want to do? There’s also you can buy the book right there.

Jeremy Norton — And then there’s also um Ambassador International worked with YouVersion and if you want kind of a free snippet to kind of see some of the content, they actually took some of the Northern Roads story and some of the they they worked with me to to help me put together a devotional. It’s a five day devotional plan on the YouVersion Bible App. You can just search Jeremy Norton ah A Five Day Journey of Life and Leadership. And yeah, and and ultimately the goal is I want people to come to know Jesus, I want them to get closer with the relationship with Jesus, and this can just give them ah a little it gives them a taste a – 5 day taste.

Rich Birch — Right, love it.

Jeremy Norton — Drawing closee to Jesus and kind of learning a bit more. So.

Rich Birch — So good. We’ll put links to all that in the show notes. This is so fantastic. Well Jeremy, I I’ve loved get to know you a little bit better, and hear a little bit of your story. If people want to track with you outside of that website is there anywhere else we want to send them online to learn more about the church or you know, ah or yourself?

Jeremy Norton — Ah, yeah, sure. Um, so mountainview.church mountainview.church. Right now our website is mountainviewwhitehorse.ca but over the pandemic we have we have grown, so depending on when you listen to this, it might still be mountainviewwhitehorse.ca but Thanksgiving/October sort of Canadian Thanksgiving in October we’re transitioning to mountainview.church

Rich Birch — Love it.

Jeremy Norton — …because we’re becoming less centralized to to Whitehorse. Over the pandemic more and more people are are listening. So yeah.

Rich Birch — Love it. So good. Well I appreciate you being here. Thanks so much for being on the episode and I appreciate your ah work with this book, Northern Roads, and just want to encourage you cheer you on as you’re serving in the north. Thanks so much, Jeremy. Thanks for being here today.

Jeremy Norton — Thanks for having me. It was super fun.


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.