Today, mission is from everywhere to everywhere.
At a recent church planting conference in Vancouver, I was inspired by several experiences that convinced me more than ever that we need to embrace this new reality.
The event was sponsored by C2C, an interdenominational church planting network birthed by the MB church. I loved the global flavour of the gathering.
I sat next to several leaders from our MB conference in Paraguay who were attending the summit to be better equipped to plant churches in Paraguay. In celebration of their first fifty years of existence, they believe God wants to double their number of churches in the next five years. They came to the summit because they know that this vision requires spiritual renewal and new strategies.
At the same event, I also met a pastor from Brazil that God has called to plant churches in Canada. Several years ago, his church in Brazil was praying for the nations. As they listened to God, they were led to pray for the least reached region of North America, which they discovered was the province of Quebec. They sensed that they were called to send their best, so they sent their pastor.
What bold mission prayers are we praying? Are we sending our best?
We are taking teams of North American church planters to locations in Central and Southeast Asia to rediscover the power of prayer, bold witness and a willingness to sacrifice everything for the Gospel. Like never before, the global church is learning from each other, accessing resources globally and recognizing that we all have gifts to share and receive.
In the same way, short-term teams from North America are serving among the nations and coming back changed. The participants return to careers and local expressions of mission in their home communities, which enriches the mission DNA of our churches.
This exchange is happening on a global scale. Christians around the world are listening to each other’s podcast sermons, attending conferences and visiting each other’s churches resulting in a growing global cross pollination of discipleship and mission DNA. Like never before, everyone is learning from everyone.
How can our global MB family reflect this new reality in our missional strategies and training structures? If we are to see greater synergy, renewal and multiplication, we need to work collaboratively on this one mission – local, national and global.
Multiplication and addition are different; they require different strategies. But both require the renewal of faith in mission. As we embrace one mission, we need to understand the key to multiplication according to Jesus: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).
As we think about our strategies, structures or security, what death is God inviting us into so that he can birth new life in and through us? Are we willing to die to ourselves to see God’s mission accomplished?
At the same event in Vancouver, a Filipino pastor stood up and shared about how difficult it was for him to be in a room with 250 pastors. At the age of thirteen, he had been sexually abused by his youth pastor. When he disclosed the abuse, it had been covered up. In his anger against pastors, churches and God, he became a prodigal. He left the Philippines and ended up in Winnipeg. One night in a bar, the Father spoke to him and called him “home.” He cried out to God in brokenness and repentance, and experienced the love and forgiveness of the Lord. Then he began calling others to join him. In the following weeks, he led dozens of friends to Christ. A house church was started, which has now grown to dozens of house churches of new believers in Winnipeg!
After hearing his story of abuse, I sensed the Lord speaking to me. I walked up to the podium and stood in the place of spiritual leaders that had hurt this young man. I asked him to forgive us for misusing that authority and grieving God. He fell to his knees and cried out as his pain was released. We wept in each other’s arms and I prayed for more prodigals to come home. What happened that evening in Vancouver had an effect on what is happening now in Winnipeg and in the Philippines. The seed is multiplying worldwide!
I am encouraged that one mission – local, national, global – is increasingly shaping our vision and practice as a global family of churches. As you read this edition of Witness, I trust that you will be inspired by these stories of how God’s people are being transformed by his love and embracing his mission.
In February 2017, C2C and MB Mission are sponsoring a national mission conference in the US called MULTIPLY. This conference is for all church leaders who are interested in living on mission, and features speakers who are impacting our missional culture.
In Canada, this two-day equipping conference has grown to more than 800 leaders over the past several years and will again be hosted at Westside Church in Vancouver, February 8-9 (to register, go to multiplyconference.ca). We’re excited to promote this gathering of church leaders who seek to multiply the kingdom of God through the local church!
A few weeks later, in Fresno, California, on February 22-23, we will be hosting the first MULTIPLY conference in the US (to register, go to multiplyconference.us).
What would happen if every existing church in North America were to intentionally invest in the multiplication of the church locally, nationally, and globally? In March 2017, MB Mission and the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) are sponsoring a global mission consultation in Thailand, which will bring together leaders from twenty-one MB conferences around the world. This theme of mission from everywhere to everywhere will shape how we share resources, send workers and discern vision together. For more information, go to icomb.org