The “big idea”
MB agencies church planting together
“We’re inviting MB Mission back home,” says Gord Fleming, national director of the C2C Network, the church planting arm of the Canadian Mennonite Brethren church. “To expand their mission to include North America.”
The “big idea” started with a request from the US Mennonite Brethren conference: “Can C2C be our church planting resource?” forcing C2C to ask, “Should we stay focused on Canada, or should we grow?”
Fleming regularly fields requests from other countries for church planting support. The leader of a church planting network in the Netherlands he met at a conference “heard me talk about power of Holy Spirit and prayer, and said, ‘This is our heart too. Could you come to the Netherlands, and work together?’ We are building a relationship electronically, sharing resources.”
C2C leaders began a conversation with their international counterpart, MB Mission, about working together more closely, and both agencies realized the benefits went beyond USMB’s request: “seeing church planting done to the best of our ability overseas, and missions done to the best of our abilities here,” says Fleming.
“MB Mission is currently structured with a century-old model: mission ‘from the West to the rest,’” says MB Mission general director Randy Friesen. “Jesus is inviting us to think differently.”
“Mission is now ‘from everywhere to everywhere’ with Turkish pastors reaching out to Armenians in Fresno and Canadians reaching out to people from Burma in Thailand,” says Friesen. “Church planters in North America are learning from apostolic national leaders in Southeast Asia and North Africa.”
C2C is already connected to MB Mission’s international work through a DNA exchange, in which Canadian church planters learn from the global church in Turkey, India and Thailand. The two agencies co-sponsor AWAKE renewal weekends at churches across Canada.
And MB Mission is in the early stages of a church-planting initiative in Canada through their Arabic ministry team, Oasis. Local C2C church plants are offering support with staffing and finances – an approach both ministries are eager to apply in other communities.
Fleming, Friesen and Harold Froese, Canadian Conference of MB Churches moderator, have been presenting the C2C-MB Mission partnership idea at study conference and the provincial conventions. They report a warm response.
CCMBC’s board appointed assistant moderator Len Penner and Michael Dick as their liaisons to a task force that includes Friesen, Fleming and CCMBC executive director Willy Reimer. They met Mar. 9, 2016, to pray and discuss “the upsides, downsides, things to be careful about and ways to steward well what God has given us,” says Fleming. Dick will present the document they drafted to the CCMBC board May 10, 2016, in Winnipeg. The board hopes to have a recommendation for the membership – and USMB – by Gathering.
“As an executive board, we are committed to the process of final decisions on recommendations being made at Gathering,” says Penner. “We want our members to be involved in significant decisions, and we are open to input and feedback along the journey.”
Where does C2C funding come from?