“We’re making North America our eighth church planting region,” said Randy Friesen, MB Mission general director about the global mission agency’s merger with the Canadian MB church planting network, C2C.
The merged entity, Multiply, will continue to inspire, equip, and encourage the church to make healthy disciples, plant healthy churches, and grow healthy partnerships – particularly with local church leaders.
In the Q &A of today’s third breakout session, Marvin Dyck of Crossroads MB Church, Winnipeg, commended this submission to national workers, referencing ICOMB director David Wiebe’s recent MB Herald article about the problem of white privilege in the church.
“We need to humble ourselves,” said Friesen, “to allow our brothers and sisters to share with us…those challenging stories.”
Friesen told about a North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) conference in Nova Scotia focused on white supremacy, where he and other white mission leaders felt “a healthy discomfort.” First Nations leaders asked them, Do you know what’s it like every time we walk into a store and they follow us because they think we’re going to steal something? Or what it’s like to walk into a space and feel invisible? This discomfort you’re feeling: we feel this every day.
Friesen described the hopelessness he sensed on one reservation he visited, heavier than any he’d witnessed in refugee camps around the world. “In Canada, we have one of the biggest missiological challenges on planet earth. We need to own the culpability of the church in that story.”
The session was highly interactive – aided by the fact that each inquirer received a mug. Recently retired teacher Helen Forbes from Gateway Community Church, Canora, Sask., shared her heart for Indigenous and Métis students, which developed during her years teaching in Cumberland House, Sask. She praised the work of C2C church plant Living Word Temple in Winnipeg, bringing more Indigenous practices into their services.
“Think about how Indigenous people feel about hearing their music their drums in worships service,” Forbes said. “So much more that needs to be done.”
Culture as vehicle
Multiply’s philosophy is “Redeem everything that we can within a culture,” said Friesen, “and keep the footprint of our cultural baggage to a minimum.”
Canadian director of C2C Network, Mark Burch, reported that there are six white couples working with C2C on Canadian reserves, but “we need Indigenous leaders planting Indigenous churches on Indigenous soil.”
“We’re asking MB Mission staff: can you help us with your experience of working with Indigenous peoples overseas?” says Burch.
Kristin Corrigan from City Church, Montreal, asked about how the “Multiply” name transfers to different cultures. MB Mission’s Larry Neufeld admitted there were questions with which they were still wrestling. “MB Mission” was not translated, but his hope is that “Multiply” can find an equivalent in local languages.
Love and lost
How will the merger change C2C? In some ways, not at all, said Burch. The core of things – a focus on the love of God and a clear understanding of the lostness of humanity – stay the same. But, like Billy Graham, C2C believes in being “anchored to the rock and geared to the times,” so they are always contextualizing to culture.
In Canada, we no longer call others “the poor” but “people experiencing poverty.” Does contextualization within Canadian culture sometimes mean shifting our language from “the lost” to more invitational words like “the people Jesus is seeking,” or other biblical metaphors? (Do I get a mug?)
Paul Kroeker, C2C Network national intercultural mobilizer from Winnipeg, said, “Most questions have been directed toward how this merger is changing MB Mission or C2C. My question is: How is it changing us – as a conference, as churches, as individuals?”
In a culture where many view Christians as consumers of a 90-minute weekly service rather than as a community of fully devoted followers of Jesus, Friesen said, “we cry out to God for the renewal of the church.”
[Angeline is the copy editor for the Canadian Conference of MB Churches and a member of Crossroads MB Church in Winnipeg.