For the first time in the history of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches (CCMBC), church planters from across Canada gathered together for a retreat. It provided rest, worship, networking, recreation, and inspiration for the couples and individuals who came.
Ewald Unruh, CCMBC church ministries director, said, “Our vision was to see church planters and spouses enjoy a time of restoration.” He said those on the front lines need to know that “we believe in them and they are not alone.” Director Gord Fleming of Church Planting BC told the opening meeting, “The whole purpose of this is just to bless church planters.” Even the location was a blessing – Whistler, B.C., Oct. 18–21, before the snows came.
Keynote speaker Jon Tyson told the workers the most important thing in church planting is to abide constantly in Christ. Allow God to work in your own lives, he said. “Sit still long enough.” He spoke of many practical ways to abide. Be good stewards not only of your time, but of your energy, he said. “Tether to the presence of God.“
Tyson also challenged MB church planters to be bold in an age of radical individualism. “We need radical spirituality,” he said. Tyson tried to do church planting in Manhattan by being “cool.” It brought satisfying numbers to church services, he said, but it transformed almost no lives for Christ. He came to realize “cool church is not effective.” Tyson returned to a more traditional style – getting rid of flashy audio-visual effects and adopting the lectionary to ensure systematic exposure to Scripture – and saw lives changed. He now oversees five associated church plants in Manhattan’s less prosperous districts.
The church planters heard testimonies from a variety of their colleagues, with stories of how they started, the challenges they face, and the ways God is blessing the work. Attendees ranged from new apprentices in their 20s to experienced pastors who felt the call to start a brand new church well into their careers.
“What unites us all,” said Fleming, “is the call to introduce people to Christ.”
Overheard at the retreat…
“I just talked with another couple whose experience is very much like ours. Isn’t it great to be able to gather together with a bunch of people that just get ya?”
“I have been to a few church planters’ retreats, and usually it seems people are competing with each other. I have never seen such love and support for each other as I have at this one. It’s wonderful!”
“We appreciate the zeal and heart to serve and support church planters….”
“We both feel like our hearts were resuscitated and deeply encouraged. Thank you for bringing Jon Tyson, for the free time, for being relentless about the gospel being the main thing, and for the legacy of generosity and passion you are making.”
“We had a wonderful time, felt renewed in many ways, and really did make deeper connections with a good number of planters and leaders.”