Gathering 2016 recap – breakout sessions
Board of Faith and Life
“BFL’s aspiration is to be a resource for the whole church,” said chair David Miller. One way they’ve done that recently is to produce a document outlining an MB understanding of ordination. The practice was very common early in MB history, fell out of use and has now made a comeback for but pragmatic and more philosophical reasons. In a nutshell, the practice is meant to be about discerning and commissioning. More information can be found here.
The BFL also has responsibility to plan study conferences, something they’ve been working in with awareness of changing understandings within the delegates, of the purpose, and of the format. Vice chair Paul J. Loewen indicated that the next study conference, on transforming discipleship, will take place in the Abbotsford area Nov. 1–3, 2017.
Delegates in the breakout showed great interest in the ordination document.
“How can we convince youth pastors that [ordination] has value for them?” asked Walter Fast. The impetus for ordination comes from the community, not the individual.
Bruce Guenther cautioned that given a diversity of opinions on ordination, the document should not word it as though ordination were “a prescriptive step.”
John Neufeld suggested the board test its responses to the guide in study with people on the ground. “We’ll try it!” he said of his congregation.
The founders of the C2C network are convinced that no one should plant a church alone and they’re motivated to make failure as rare as possible.
The core 10 practices are
- Covenant agreement
- Financial systems & support
- Task forces (to remove pressure on church plants to assemble a leadership team before capacity is known)
How are decisions made, constituents want to know. There is no national level, said Gord Fleming. Regional leadership teams make decisions, and all planters are encouraged to be connected to a denomination as they mature.
The assessment centre is a bit of a black box, said John Neufeld. Can you help us understand what makes for a “recommended” or “not recommended” verdict?
There are 27 outcomes, said Fleming. There are many reasons why a planter may not “pass” assessment, but they often have more to do with fitting the model than an existential evaluation of whether the candidate is “a planter.”
Is the local church involved in discernment? Tabitha vandenEnden asked.
Fleming cited the example of Jeff Renaud in Langley, who went through assessment after his local congregation discerned him to head up a new plant for North Langley Community Church. Also, an important early step is a significant questionnaire 6 people close to the candidate must fill out.
Aiming for a zero failure rate may not be realistic or even healthy, delegates pointed out, but Denis Fehderau asked, what constitutes success?
Fleming answered it is hard for C2C to produce figures because the network acts like a midwife, coaching and teaching through the birthing phase, then handing the baby church to the mother denomination to raise.
This seems very anglo, James Nikkel observed. What about the ethnic churches?
Fleming says three divisions have arisen to deal with the particular challenges of each demographic: mainstream, new immigrant, and First Nations.
Stepping in for board member Mark Wessner who was unable to attend, Willy Reimer presided over the communications break out, pondering the challenges of communicating in a diverse constituency, taking full advantage of the media available and the opportunity for broadcast they offer. CCMBC’s GMMiTV is a resource to extend proclamation of the gospel online; however, delegates cautioned regarding a medium’s limitations – discipleship requires relationship.
Partnerships are an important component of a communications strategy. “MB Mission has great expertise in media thought leadership,” said Reimer, suggesting to wait “till we’ve figured out how closely we’re working together and then know what we need.”
Reimer is processing a macro communication strategy with the executive board so that “communication is moving us in the same direction while recognizing what people hold as important.”
“This is an important discussion,” Reimer said to the small group of participants at the discussion, “but not urgent at this time.”
C2C and MB Mission – A “big idea”
The changing landscape of Canadian cultural today – “the mission field is moving toward us” – drives interest in a merger between C2C and MB Mission, said Len Penner and Michael Dick.
It’s an opportunity to enhance and strengthen mission as the centre of our ministry planning to work together to reach more people locally, nationally, and globally,” said Dick. “We want that to be passion of every church family. We have a good news story to share.”
Matt Ewert objected to the language of moving mission to the centre. “Does that mean my church is auxiliary to the where the centre of mission is?… I don’t need these two organizations to merge to put it there…. Please use language of strengthening, not assuming mission isn’t at the centre of my church.”
James Toews pointed to the line “CCMBC has struggled to maintain oversight” in the report and asked why the board thought “MB Mission’s triumvirate will succeed where Harold and Len and Willy could not?”
Dick answered that the board has been busy with the mission statement, sandbox document, and Legacy Fund. “Perhaps we dropped our guard on C2C more than we should have.”
Penner pointed out that the executive board’s quarterly meetings weren’t able to process feedback at the rate C2C desired it. “There is value in putting in greater resources to hold accountable…. It’s less about ability as about taking the right amount of time to provide direction on leadership size.”
In closing, Dick invited ICOMB executive director David Wiebe to share a perspective from the international MB church:
“The Canadian and U.S. conferences have inordinate levels of influence on the international community because of our history with missionaries going to parts of the world. Around the ICOMB table, I still sense there’s deference to North American voices. As the Canadian conferences makes these decisions, this particular one will have global impact: we need to be mindful of that.”
What is brought to the floor on Saturday for a vote will reflect the feedback gathered at the breakout sessions, Dick and Penner promised.