Pull out all the stops on one mission

Just a few days before settling into the rhythm of the lazy, hazy days of summer, I was given the biggest mandate of my leadership life.

“God is moving to make Jesus known everywhere. We MBs must be together on this one mission in a local, national, global way. We ask you to lead a task force to discern the plan that will pull out the stops as one force for this mission.”

The mandate was given by a June gathering of more than 50 Canadian MB leaders – from the provincial conferences, college/university/seminary, C2C, L2L, MB Mission and the national conference. They all came with a conviction that we can do far more if we build on one another’s strengths and share our resources.

In the next 12 months, the One Mission Partnership Task Force will listen, discern and submit a plan for Canadian MB people to increase our collaborative effectiveness in working alongside what God is doing to send workers into the harvest field (Matthew 9:38).

We lean into this process desiring two key outcomes – like two rails of a train track – that the Spirit will lay down for a movement of God to transform our communities, our country and the world.

The task force will articulate a clear statement of “one mission” for all MB churches and ministries across Canada (possibly broader than the CCMBC mission).

We will discern structural solutions for aligning ministry partnerships around this one mission.

Articulating a shared statement comes first, and the structural solutions will follow closely behind. As members of MB churches, you will have an opportunity to give your input to these outcomes through the fall and winter. So, I’m asking you to consider:

  • What is the mission of God?
  • What will it look like when Canadian MBs more effectively collaborate on one mission?
  • How might a “one-mission partnership” help your church to increase your engagement in what God is doing everywhere?

The Philippians 1:27–30 focus for this June gathering of MB leaders laid a strong foundation for hearing God speak to us, and I think it can guide us as a larger body as well. Paul speaks to two things that will help us join on one mission together. First, commit to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”; and second, understand “the faith of the gospel” (v. 27).

I believe that we give personal witness to the transforming power of Christ when we live like citizens of heaven:

Walk consistently “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v. 27). No matter where we live geographically, we must view ourselves as citizens of heaven. We will speak and act differently than those around us who are citizens of this earth. Our ways of being and speaking will witness to the good news of Jesus.

Work collaboratively “Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (v. 27). The passage’s “striving” gives us our word “athletics.” Picture an athletic team, working in cooperation and coordination toward a common goal. Our team’s goal is the one mission of God.

Stand confidently “without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you” (v. 28). The word “frightened” was often used of a startled horse rearing in fear. For some reason, Christians are surprised when we experience opposition. But Paul reasons, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had” (v. 28–29). The same God who has awakened faith in you has also given you another gift: suffering! If Christ, the Son of God, suffered, and if Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles suffered, then we’re in good company if we suffer for the sake of the gospel. Stand confidently for Christ and trust in God.

The core truth of the gospel cannot be compromised. This truth is so essential that we all must lock onto it to be on one mission. And be aware that Satan, our enemy, is always trying to undo it.

Paul states the core truth to the Corinthians, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).

  • This tells us who Jesus is: both eternal God, who alone can atone for sin, and fully human, capable of death, and thus an acceptable substitute for our sin.
  • It declares the fallen condition of the human race: that we are sinners in need of a Saviour.
  • It affirms the historical, bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

God is moving to make Jesus known everywhere. Locally, nationally and globally, MBs must be together on this one mission. The Task Force is joyfully working to articulate a clear statement for all MB churches and ministries across Canada, and humbly seeking to discern structural solutions for aligning ministry partnerships to pull out the stops as one force for the mission of God.

[Steve Berg is interim executive director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. He lives in Abbotsford, B.C.

One Mission Partnership Task Force: 

Steve Berg

Bryan Born

Elton DaSilva

Bruce Enns

JP Hayashida

Ron Leonard

Carol Letkeman

Paul J. Loewen

David McLean

Patrice Nagant

Larry Neufeld

Ingrid Reichard

Robyn Serez

Trevor Seath

Phil Wagler

Karen West

3 Comments on “Pull out all the stops on one mission

  1. Thanks, Steve, for your leadership and this particular initiative. As I read one of the central questions you asked, “What is the mission of God?” I was struck by how immense and important a question that is, especially for the particular moment we find ourselves in as a denomination.

    My first response would be two words of caution, as we discern the answer to that question:

    First, based on a cursory reading of scripture my gut says that the answer to that question is not singular. The mission of God changes depending on the particular time and place of the people who are attempting to live it out. In an individual sense, God’s mission to Abraham, was different than God’s mission to Moses than it was for Lydia. In a collective sense, God’s mission to the Israelites in exile was different than God’s mission to the disciples gathered with the risen Jesus before Pentecost, than it was to the early church. That variety should not deter us from pursuing a common mission together, but we do well to be aware that the answer to the question may indeed be more broad than is helpful for stewarding efficiently run institutions.

    The second caution I would offer is that in the face of such big questions it becomes very easy for people to substitute “God’s mission” for “my mission.” Since the answer to the question is generally not singular, it’s easy for the loudest or most pervasive voices to say, “this is God’s mission for us!” when what they really mean is “this is what I want to happen right now!” or “this is my mission!” Even the most well intentioned and prayer conditioned individual (or group) can be prone to substituting what they perceive as God’s mission for their own.

    God may indeed have something specific and singular in mind for us a Mennonite Brethren in this season of our denominational life. My early take would be that His mission may have more to do with character and shape of our conversations than the particular outcomes that they bring.

    Thank-you for being wiling to ask such an important question, and being willing to lead the discernment thereof. I’m looking forward to seeing where God leads us together.

    Kevin Koop
    Medicine Hat, AB

  2. Thanks Kevin, for engaging the OutFront thoughts that I have written. Your cautions and comments on the one mission of God will add value to the work of the Task Force.
    Steve

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