Manitobans encouraged to name fears and take risks
After last year’s intense business sessions, the MB Church of Manitoba (MBCM) gave Assembly 2010 delegates a chance to attend equipping workshops and ask God to speak to them about the future. The province’s annual convention, held March 5–6 at Portage Avenue Church in Winnipeg, drew in some 230 delegates, and focused heavily on church planting and compassion ministries.
Ontario board of church extension director Terry Wiseman was one of two speakers on Friday night, as well as workshop presenter on the topic of church planting. “Church planting is going to look different,” said Wiseman. “We need to allow young, entrepreneurial leaders to go out there and take risks for Jesus.
“[These leaders] sometimes screw up big time and the world wants to pull them down,” he said. “But when they fail, let’s say, ‘How fascinating!’
“I pray we would break the downward spiral [of fear and complexity] and move into the realm of possibility. We need leadership today that will awaken the possibility in others.”
Lloyd Letkeman, MBMS International regional mobilizer and short-term mission coordinator, led a workshop on poverty, undergirding the conference’s focus on ministry with and among the poor. When we go beyond giving monetary donations to a parachurch or related agency, he said, “the church’s response will [necessarily] be messy and relational.” The Manitoba conference has placed $10,000 in this year’s budget as seed money for churches to begin new compassion initiatives.
Nigel B., an MB church planter in Toronto and director of MoveIn, talked about finding God’s calling in the context of the global church and the unreached world. He encouraged workshop attendees to discover how they’re all connected to God’s work around the world, whether through praying for missionaries, welcoming international students into their homes, or connecting with neighbours who come from other countries.
Poor results from Dream Manitoba force shift
During Saturday’s main session, missions and church extension (MCE) director, Russ Toews reported on the province’s Dream Manitoba church planting initiative. “It hasn’t resulted in the number of church plants we had hoped for,” said Toews.
“A number of years ago, MCE had a change of philosophy,” he explained. “We moved from a model of the denomination starting church plants to a model of churches daughtering churches. We felt it would be a more successful way of planting, where churches would have another church to walk with. It would be more organic.”
Toews said the switch didn’t “result in a lot of fruit.” So, MCE has decided to step back from its current daughtering philosophy, and “take a greater role in kicking off some church plants.” In the last two years, MCE has been involved with four new ministries – House Blend Ministries, School of Urban Leadership (SOUL), Philadelphia Eritrean Church, and South Winnipeg Chinese MB church plant – but were hoping to see several more initiatives.
In response to Toews’ report, conference pastor Keith Poysti said he believes there are many wide open doors for ministry in Manitoba, but also “many adversaries.” Fear, he said, is probably the greatest. “Perhaps we need to name our fears” in order to move forward.
Poysti then invited guest speaker Scott Eastveld from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada to share his testimony. Eastveld said that God is leading him to begin a coffee shop/used bookshop ministry in Osborne Village, in the heart of Winnipeg. “It scares me to think of [quitting my job at Starbucks] and being unemployed in September [to start this ministry]. But I’ve tried to make it a habit of walking through open doors.” Poysti said Eastveld’s was the kind of fearlessness needed
Manitoba poised for new executive director
The MBCM leadership board, in full support of current staff, recommended the creation of a new executive director position to serve as CEO of the conference. Currently the position is administered jointly by the conference pastor and the missions and church extension director. The board felt more visionary and “pointed leadership” was needed for the future.
“If we wish to grow the ministry of MBCM and realize the vision we feel God has led us to, a change in our staff leadership team is necessary,” said moderator Ramsy Unruh. Delegates unanimously passed the recommendation.
The leadership board will put together a search team, and anticipates hiring someone as early as July. With the new executive director in place, some shifts in staffing will likely happen, said the board.
Simonhouse Bible Camp incorporates
In a move similar to other Manitoba ministries and organizations, Simonhouse Bible Camp presented a recommendation to incorporate. The board felt incorporation was a necessary step to limit liability to the conference and board.
Several delegates, including Sandra Schroeder from Flin Flon and Ted Goossen from Thompson, expressed concern that the connection between the camp and conference may erode if incorporation occurs.
Russ Toews explained that Simonhouse now relates to the conference through the MCE director. “That will continue,” he said, “although it won’t be a legal connection – just relational.”
Toews recognizes the value of the work that Simonhouse is doing among Manitoba’s northern communities and acknowledges the importance of keeping a connection with the camp. “Our small northern churches need our help. We have a lot to lose if we step back from the camp.”
The recommendation to incorporate Simonhouse Bible Camp was passed with some opposition. To conclude the business session, delegates passed a deficit budget for 2010, with $533,600 in revenue and $572,000 in expenses. Any revenue shortfall will come from the conference reserve fund. Finally, the nominating committee reported that they’re still looking to fill two positions on the leadership board, one for treasurer and one for a female member-at-large.
— Laura Kalmar