Equip 2023 is now in the books. About 220 registered guests gathered at Northview Community Church (Abbotsford, BC) to worship and pray together, listen together to plenary and workshop presenters, sit together in table discussion groups, enjoy great meals together, and enjoy local tours and walks together.
Equip 2023 was about the church, trying to answer the question why does it matter? Why should we be committed to participating, serving, and leading the family? Should we care to be part of the MB family? These questions were addressed more directly in plenary sessions by Ken Esau (NFL Director) and Kristal Toews (Pastor of Discipleship—Northview), and in table discussion sessions around the new explanatory notes for the MB Confession of Faith’s Article 6: Nature of the Church and Article 7: Mission of the Church.
Another large focus of the event was on how we can be a healthier church together. As a result, most of the other presentations were about how the church can be healthier. Some highlighted that the church needs to recognize and stand against cultural trends that produce toxicity and decay. Others highlighted that we need to embrace (or re-embrace) priorities in our churches that lead to life and renewal. There were also two table discussion group times where registrants could engage health questions more directly around a draft document entitled “Defining a Healthy Church.”
In Thursday evening’s plenary session that drew more than 600 listeners, Dr. Iain Provan (Retired Regent College Professor) stressed that a healthy church needs to embrace a biblical theology of sexual intimacy, birth sex, and gender identification in light of foreign cultural ideas (“cuckoos”) that pose a threat to the ongoing integrity and fundamental identity of the church. The group discussion sessions that were scheduled for first thing Friday morning involved passionate engagement about the relative value of a church’s protective posture against external threats, and the church’s call to welcome and be missional for the benefit of the world.
After registrants had the opportunity to attend two of the nine workshop offerings related to various priorities important for church health, there was an extended break for group activities off site. With the beautiful weather inviting everyone outside, groups walked local parks, hiked up local mountains, played disc golf, or toured through a local museum (e.g., the Mennonite Heritage Museum; the Metzger Collection) before eating out together and returning for the evening session. In that session, Dr. Andy Steiger (President of Apologetics Canada) highlighted how our new identity in Christ is a corporate identity that calls us to discipleship, service, accountability, and real community within a local church.
The Saturday morning gathering functioned as both a conclusion to Equip 2023 and as CCMBC’s National Assembly. Bruce Enns (Multiply General Director) presented the final plenary address on “How the MB Church can live into God’s hopeful future.” Reports and updates were given by CCMBC staff and agencies that described proposed steps toward this hopeful future. After approval of the proposed 2024 CCMBC budget, Elton DaSilva gave his final address as CCMBC’s National Director recounting the positive achievements of the past five years and encouraging us to build on them as we move more and more toward being a family of “healthy disciple-making churches.”
It is hoped that Equip registrants, National Assembly delegates, and all the guests will have come away from Equip 2023 with a greater understanding of why the local church is worth participating in, why our MB family has a contribution to make in our larger church world, and how we can move forward embracing the fire of spiritual renewal and mission while also recognizing and learning from the ashes that are also part of our history—both distant and recent.
The National Faith & Life Team wants to express thanks to Northview Community Church for being exceptionally gracious hosts for Equip. And we thank all of those who attended Equip 2023. We hope it was encouraging, provocative, and relationally rich! We hope to see you soon at the next Equip.
Soli deo Gloria! (Glory to God alone!)
Ken Esau (National Faith & Life Director)