We love connecting with like-minded people and organizations that share our heart for Jesus, the Church and joining God in the mission of restoring our broken world. As we consider what it looks like to do good now, we love learning what that looks like for other leaders, ministries and organizations across Canada!
Alyssa Esparaz, Compassion Canada’s Content and Communications Specialist, recently connected with Tim Day, Director of National Engagement at WayBase, to learn about what WayBase is, what gaps they hope to fill for the Church in Canada and how Christians can engage with them. Tim shared striking insights on leadership, the power of community and what it looks like to engage in the digital space in our overwhelming and divided times.
Compassion Canada: For those that don’t know you, give us a short introduction to Tim Day. Please include the important things like your favourite Star Wars movie and your 2021 NBA champion prediction…
Tim Day: I grew up in a Christian home in a small hamlet in Ontario called Sherkston in the Niagara area. I like to say I grew up in Sherkston on Sherkston Road where the Sherks live. I did my studies in the U.S. and in Toronto. I have worked in youth ministry, church planting, and then for 14 years, I helped lead The Meeting House church. We started in a high school and when I left had 16 locations across Ontario. Now for six years, I have been leading a ministry called City Movement and helped to launch a platform to serve the Church in Canada called WayBase.
My wife Liz works in the area of autism. My oldest son, Nathan, is working on an HBO Max series right now, assisting the executive producer. My daughter, Rachel, is in Illustration at Sheridan College. My youngest son, Josh, is heading off to Ryerson University to study Media Production. So lots of artist types in my family.
My favourite Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back. I am more into the first six movies and Rogue One, not so much the sequel trilogy, but that is for another podcast. In terms of predictions, Brooklyn Nets should win it if they are healthy and can click. They have the talent. If they don’t pull through, it is up for grabs. I would say L.A. but they seem like the injury bug is really haunting them this year.
CC: Tell us about WayBase and specifically the gaps you hope to fill for the Church in Canada.
TD: WayBase is a new platform that is organizing all of the data on the Christian Church (as well as Canadian demographic data) to help Christian ministries and individuals find each other, partner together and show the difference we can make together. It is a bit like Realtor.ca or other platforms that create a marketplace space for specific sectors to know what each other is doing and find places for partnership. It also includes causes, which are initiatives people can support to make an impact. Along with WayBase, we are also launching a new app called Engage that churches and ministries can use to help connect with their people and also mobilize them to take action together.
We have two key gaps we hope WayBase can address. First, with over 30,000 ministries, it is easy for people to not even know what is happening in their local communities or their area of ministry. This sometimes results in duplication or missed opportunities for partnership. We hope to create a way for leaders and Christians to know what is happening and where they can partner to make a difference. Secondly, 93 per cent of churches do not have an app that they use to connect with and mobilize their people. Over 95 per cent of Canadians who can have a mobile device now have one and use it to organize their lives. We are hoping to meet this need through the Engage app which is free to download and already set up for virtually every ministry in Canada.
CC: What has the past year and a bit been like for you as a leader and WayBase as an organization in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
TD: We used to have three-year strategic plans—now, we have three-week plans that only last about three days. We have been working behind the scenes with leaders across Canada and as you can imagine, this was a very challenging year for most leaders. Our team had to quickly shift from meeting in offices regularly to working from home. I now do Zoom calls back-to-back from 8 a.m. to 6:30 or 7 p.m. every day. It is mentally exhausting in a way that is hard to describe. It is also very hard to plan. We wanted to host online gatherings to help connect leaders around the needs of their cities, but the second and third waves of the pandemic resulted in our team needing to postpone them until leaders were in a better space.
We did complete a national survey with over 3,000 leaders from 140+ denominations. The focus was on wellbeing: the leader’s own life, their ministry and the local community they serve. I think if you read that report, it gives a very good window into what a lot of leaders have faced during this time.
CC: At WayBase, you talk a lot about bringing the Church together to make an “impact for good.” This spring and summer at Compassion, we’re inviting and encouraging Canadians to find ways to “do good now,” even as so much is still uncertain or on hold. How have you seen the Church in Canada make an impact for good through technology and the digital space over the past 12 months?
TD: Right now, we are mapping both local and global causes that serve vulnerable populations. These are called “cause listings” on WayBase and can be shared on social media or discovered through the Engage app.
We have a strong relationship with the Canadian Christian Relief and Development Association (of which Compassion is a member), Salvation Army and a host of large poverty-engaging ministries across Canada. This is a work in progress and will probably take six to 12 months to complete. This will take some effort because this is a new way of thinking for Christian ministries and for Christians. We hope that as we map more and more of these projects (we have over 200 right now) that this will help mobilize Christians similar to “do good now.”
CC: It’s been amazing to see the innovation happening in the Church this year, but even before the pandemic, our world was changing significantly with ever-increasing focus on the digital space. Specifically as we think about living compassionately as Christians, how is the digital age creating new problems but also offering new solutions?
TD: Anything that is powerful can be used for powerful good or powerful harm. Nuclear power can either provide electricity for an entire city or it can destroy an entire city. It all depends on how it is used. We see this with digital technology.
The smartphone has connected the whole world—with all of its potential and problems. We can rally together or be divided like never before. We can attack problems or we can attack each other.
I think we have three opportunities in this new digital age:
1. We have the opportunity to map all of our activities, see if there are ways we can work together more effectively and, in the process, reduce duplication. The Christian sector in Canada manages over $14 billion in revenue. Even if we can gain a bit more efficiency, we could unlock hundreds of millions of dollars that can be better invested in serving people.
2. We can identify key gaps where we are not working and then build plans to address those gaps. In many cities in Canada and in countries around the world, there are opportunities for us to serve people.
3. We can track our progress and help communicate the difference we are making to those outside of the Church, whether civic leaders, business leaders or members of our community. The Church is making an incredible impact, but the vast majority of people have no idea. When we add up our staff and volunteers, we have over a million people who are full-time, part-time or significant volunteers. That is an incredible kingdom workforce!
The challenge for the Christian movement to move beyond social media and being a social network to operating as an impact network that is on mission together.
CC: We’re living in charged and divided times, especially in digital spaces. We’re learning how many of the digital platforms we engage with actually drive and contribute to that division. Yet, WayBase’s goal is to use technology and the digital space to bring people together for good. Can you speak to that tension? And can you think of examples of people you see leaning into that tension well, to offer compassion in divided digital spaces? What can we learn from them?
TD: In our closely connected world, we are finding all of the ways we disagree—politically, culturally, ideologically and more. It is a human pattern to try to make progress by winning battles. This is the basic theme of all of the popular stories we tell. “We are right; you are wrong.” Like in Star Wars: the Rebel Alliance vs the Empire. Blow up the Death Star, and everything is better. Jesus has a completely different approach. He calls us to look at the battle in our own hearts and ask God to transform our hearts. He calls us to progress by reconciling with our opponents, not by dominating them.
In terms of learning into the tensions and divisions that exist, I think most people resolve the conflict by engaging people who think like they think and then hope people who disagree will listen in and change their minds. That seems to be the approach of most podcasts and bloggers. The “Unbelievable?” podcast (which is focused on reasons for faith) seems to do a good job hosting people from vastly different points of view in a way that is respectful and allows for open debate.
One thing that strikes me is that Jesus called us to go privately to people with whom we have a problem and work it out with them one-on-one, rather than trying to air our problems in public. I think social media has created a space where people think everything should be hashed out publicly but in the end, it only heightens the division and mistrust. Is this a way that we are using the power of the digital world to level our communities instead of using it to light up our communities?
CC: The digital space is so big. What advice would you give to people who want to engage and make an impact, but feel overwhelmed by all that is available to them in the digital space?
TD: It reminds me of going to a restaurant with hundreds of menu items and flipping through pages trying to find something to eat. It can be overwhelming!
I think if you are a leader of a community, it is your job to help become educated on the wide scope of needs and then guide your leadership team through a discernment process to find your focus and how you want to lead a community. WayBase is ultimately designed to help leaders make more informed decisions as they discern where God may be guiding their community.
As an individual, I would start with community. Plug into a community and find out what is stirring in that group. Compassion is an international community that is doing incredible work around the world, changing the lives of thousands and thousands of children and families. By plugging in with Compassion, they make it easy for you to find how you can be a part of this work. In the same way, plugging into a church is a great place to start.
I know that some people feel like they can serve God without being committed to a Christian community. I think taking that approach makes it way harder because you are on your own to sort out an overwhelming amount of issues locally and globally and then you have to decide where you can make a difference with the time and resources you have. If you are in a community, you get to have the benefit of pooling your resources and receiving input from people who have done a lot of the hard work of mapping out good options.
So although I see the value of technology to help leaders and individuals, I still point us back to community as the foundation for everything we do to serve God in the world.
CC: How could someone who is reading this engage with WayBase, and who are the people who should be engaging with WayBase?
TD: If you are a Christian leader—a pastor, ministry leader, board member or someone who serves in leadership in some capacity—I encourage you to check out WayBase and start to explore the opportunities around in you in your local community or in the area of ministry where you have a special focus (for example, relief and development). Check out the various tabs like Discover, Research and the Engage app as a resource to your ministry.
If you are a Christian, I encourage you to check out engageapp.ca. It is just launching now and so if you like what you see there, you can possibly suggest it to your church or the ministry you work with, especially if they don’t have an app they use to connect with and mobilize the members of their ministry.
Hopefully as you explore WayBase and the Engage app, God will help you catch a vision of the potential of the Church to truly make a difference in Jesus’ name. Our vision at WayBase is not about technology but rather, about the potential of the Church to work together in new ways to share the love of God with a broken and hurting world.
Tim Day is the Director of City Movement. City Movement is a ministry helping business leaders, para-church ministries and churches work together for to advance the gospel in their city. Tim also serves as the Director of National Engagement for WayBase, a new online platform that helps individuals and Christian ministries find each other, partner together and show collective impact. Previously, Tim served for 14 years as the senior pastor at The Meeting House, a multi-site church in Ontario. He is also the author of God Enters Stage Left, a creative retelling of God’s story. Tim is married to Liz and has three children, Nathan, Rachel and Josh.