Alan came to faith in Jesus as a young child. He was born and raised in a solid Christian home by parents who were very involved at Bethany Missionary Church in Kitchener, Ontario. Stayner Camp was part of his usual summer experience, and it was sometime between his 12th & 14th year, while a camper at Trail of the Pines, that he heard God’s call to full-time ministry. One morning, while walking to breakfast after flag-raising, Alan overheard two counsellors talking about a recent tragedy in the Dominican Republic where a missionary couple lost their lives. Alan vividly recalls stopping in his tracks and sensing the Spirit ask if he was willing to be a missionary whatever the cost.
Even in Sr. Public school Alan was passionate about his walk with Christ. He easily talked about Jesus with schoolmates and was one that others came to with their questions.
Another love of his was hockey. A couple of years after his clear sense of God’s call to missions he went to register for another year of hockey. He set his cheque on the registration table and perused the game schedule. He quickly saw that most of the games were going to conflict with church activities. As he lingered at the table he once again felt a Holy Spirit encounter that penetrated deep within. “I knew I was going to have to decide. God was asking if I was going to do what He wanted me to do, or if I was going to pursue my own dream. I picked up the cheque, and walked away.”
I didn’t have to go far away to be a missionary
After high school, Alan enrolled at Emmanuel Bible College to prepare for missions. He graduated with a Bachelor of Theology and moved out of province to continue his education at Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was while here that he met Cindy, a fellow student, also headed for missions, and pursuing a Masters in Missiology. When Cindy had just one semester left to complete and Alan was halfway through his 3-year degree they married and set up home in a basement apartment until Alan graduated with a Masters of Divinity in 1983.
Becoming a pastor wasn’t on his horizon when he began college, but God used pivotal conversations over those years to change his course. In the tumultuous 70s, the erosion of faith even within the young Christian community became painfully apparent to him. “Kids were drifting away. Although I had thought I was headed for a Caribbean Island, I realized I didn’t have to go far away to be a missionary.”
In retrospect Alan feels that in his willingness to go to a country where hockey was not played, he was answering the Holy Spirit’s question, “Will you follow me anywhere? Will you give up your first love?”
Pastoring & playing ball
And so, Alan began pastoral ministry. In the summer of ’83, he served at St. Clair Missionary Church, in Toronto. Their two sons, Andrew and Matthew, were born during the Toronto years. The next pastorate was at Lincoln Heights in Waterloo. Following this he had the opportunity to church plant in Waterloo and Today’s Community Church was born. This church eventually merged into Highview. Next followed a move to St. Catharines where he spent 6 years (2001-2007) at Harbour Fellowship as Teaching Pastor and Director of Spiritual Formation and Discipleship.
Alan was talking about discipleship and practicing intentional living at a time when this was a concept less talked about, understood, and embraced than it is today. In his early years of pastoring and hanging out playing ball with guys in the community he freely admits he “ruffled a lot of feathers” in the established church.
A passion to make disciples
In 2008 the Shantz family moved to Winnipeg and Alan began to serve as Lead Pastor at Albright Church. In 2016, sensing that the church should have a new leader for the next phase, and himself feeling an inward pull towards more availability in the community, Alan retired.
With a passion to make disciples, a passion that has been with him since he was a kid, Alan now has more time to be a neighbour and has engaged in a couple of part-time jobs that have allowed him to spend time and form relationships with lots of people.
Since that day long ago when he walked away from the registration table he never again played in an organized hockey league, but now he enjoys his part-time position with the NHL as an office official (currently on hold due to the pandemic).
Enrich Facilitator opportunities
Alan is an Enrich facilitator who is available to talk about issues affecting church boards. As a pastor of several churches he has sat on a variety of boards, attended countless meetings, and has learned the importance of being a team, working with a collaborative spirit. He has insights born of experience that may help other pastors and board members as they work through spiritual, functional, and legal aspects specific to their church board. Policy and bylaw governance are other areas where Alan has experience and may be able to help.
In addition to his work on church boards, Alan also was a valued member on the EMCC National Board of Directors for six years.
Please visit emccenrich.ca to connect with Alan.