Partnering together to make Jesus known in Canada
I enjoy getting lost in a good movie with a solid plot where the good guys win. It’s no wonder The Lord of the Rings is a favourite in our home. The cinematic treatment of the Tolkien trilogy is laden with inspiring scenes and speeches. When the Fellowship is formed, a wizard, ranger, dwarf, elf, four hobbits, and a son of Gondor are fused into an unlikely team galvanized by a common mission.
After the battle at Minas Tirith, Aragorn leads survivors to the Black Gates of Mordor against an intimidating foe, and rallies those at his side with these words: “Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down. But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”
At the gates of Mordor, different tribes are united by a common cause against a common foe.
In another film, Braveheart, the medieval freedom fighter William Wallace, eager to see Scotland freed from the tyranny of King Edward I, makes an emotional appeal to Robert the Bruce: “Now is our chance. Now! If we join, we can win. If we win, well then we’ll have what none of us have ever had before: a country of our own.” Wallace was convinced the only way the Scots would enjoy freedom was to come together and stand shoulder to shoulder, galvanized by a common cause that transcended the claims of the clans.
Some may wonder if there are better analogies to help us understand our need for national partnerships that don’t rely on war movies. While we are people of peace, I’m reminded that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
As Aragorn said to King Theoden of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings, “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not!”
We are engaged in spiritual warfare for the souls of our fellow Canadians. The enemy is working hard to transform Canada into a pagan nation, so we’re praying the Lord would awaken the church – his bride – to see the lost among us!
Coming together under one mission
These cinematic vignettes illustrate a profound spiritual truth – a battle rages for the hearts and minds of Canadians, and we cannot advance on our own. There is power in collaboration for the sake of the cause of Christ.
In Luke 10, Jesus commissioned a team to engage in kingdom advancement. He propelled them with words that were both energizing and sobering: “Go!” He gave a word of commission, followed by a word of warning, “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves” (v.3).
But Jesus’ followers weren’t scattered as rugged individuals – they were propelled into darkness-displacing activity in pairs, evidencing the power of partnership. The 72 had missional influence; they were launched from a place of prayer, and declared and demonstrated the kingdom of God two by two.
Jesus’ high priestly prayer (John 17) offers the tantalizing possibility that when believers come together, missional impetus is created. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (vs. 20–21).
When Peter preached his message on the day of Pentecost, he didn’t declare the truth of God as a Lone Ranger apostle. Luke records that Peter’s proclamation was communicated in solidarity with the apostolic team: “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say’” (Acts 2:14). Through Peter’s faithful exposition, 3,000 were swept into the kingdom of God. He didn’t stand alone; he enjoyed the support of those who stood with him.
Paul’s missionary excursions were not heroic solo flights. Kingdom advancement was a team enterprise in the primitive Jesus movement. In God’s design, more can be accomplished for Jesus’ sake together than in isolation. There is power in unified, God-exalting collaboration.
Phill Butler, founder of Interdev and senior strategy advisor of visionSynergy, is a veteran champion of world evangelization. He has maintained throughout his lengthy and fruitful leadership that the brightest hope for reaching the unreached billions with the good news of Jesus is partnership. Butler states, “In the John 17:20–23 passage, Jesus seems to have anticipated this obstacle. He indicated the way to be believable is to have believable unity.”
C2C’s cross-Canada story
At the C2C Network, we’re focused on regional and denominational collaboration in order to make Jesus known from sea to sea. God is bringing down barriers across Canada, as different regions are finding great benefits in partnering together for the sake of Christ.
On May 18, the C2C Network hosted our first Edmonton cadre. More than 80 church planters and pastors attended this training event from Edmonton and surrounding areas, with at least nine denominations in attendance.
In B.C., C2C partners with five denominations to host our National Assessment Centre two times per year. At our church planters cadres in Vancouver and Victoria, there’s a growing number of planters from a variety of denominations – including Christian Missionary Alliance, Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Canadian National Baptist Convention, Vineyard Churches Canada, Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada – who join us for training, prayer, resourcing, and networking. This month, I’ll be meeting with leaders from four other denominations who want to explore ways we can partner together for the cause of Christ.
In Toronto, MBs are co-planting an urban church with Every Nation Churches under the umbrella of C2C, with Bert and Sheila Thompson moving from Nashville to serve as lead planters.
These are just some ways the Lord is bringing his bride together so the lost will hear the message of the gospel in our generation.
Mission is not “out there;” mission is from everywhere to everywhere. What if we engaged in partnerships all across our communities, cities, provinces, and regions for the cause of reaching Canada for Christ? We are at a kairos moment, and need to pay heed to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Might the Lord be speaking to us: “Partner together for the sake of the King and his gospel”?
—Gord Fleming is national director of church planting for the Canadian conference, and director of the C2C Network. He lives in Langley, B.C., with his wife Marcy.