Home MB Herald Fire & Ashes: Why Church? Why MB?

Fire & Ashes: Why Church? Why MB?

0 comment

Our CCMBC family has always valued meeting in person, worshipping together, eating together, and seeking the Holy Spirit’s wisdom about decisions large and small. I remember as a child having my father use his very limited vacation days to be a delegate to one of the summer conventions held somewhere in our big country. It seemed like nothing could stop this rich tradition of regular in-person gatherings as a larger MB family. However, as Bob Dylan sang—“The times, they are a-changin!” 

Throw into the mix cultural changes toward individual authority, growing suspicion of all institutions and organizations, economic pressures on families and churches, and the global pandemic—and it has been a long and eventful four years since we gathered together in Waterloo, Ontario. But with much hope and anticipation, the National Faith & Life Team (NFLT) is inviting all those who call the MB church their home to gather October 26 to 28 in Abbotsford, BC as we worship together, build relationships, and seek the Holy Spirit’s wisdom around key questions about the nature and mission of the church for this present cultural moment. 

The title of our time together comes from J.B. Toews’ classic book A Pilgrimage of Faith (1993) where he cites Jean Jaures’s words: “take from the past the fire: not the ashes.” While every denominational family has “ashes” that we want to recognize, grieve over, and make as right as possible, we need to take with us as we go forward not the ashes but the “fire”–the vitality, the vision, and the hope. If not, there will be no torch to pass on to the next generation. 

We know that everything we do—including meeting together in this way—needs to be centred on worship and prayer as we submit ourselves not to our own visions but to Jesus’s vision and mission for the church. Participants will be invited to participate in a prayer project with the themes: “We Praise,” “We Intercede,” “We Grieve,” and “We Hear.” These prayers, together with our songs of praise and reading of Scripture, will be offered to our Triune God who, in Jesus, died for the church, and who, in the Holy Spirit, indwells it today.

Our five plenary presentations and our nine workshop sessions will be addressing questions related to the church in general and our MB church in particular. Why is all of this worth the effort? What is God’s calling for us? What key areas of focus are particularly needed today? In addition to these sessions, we have scheduled three “Table Discussion Group” sessions to provide space for participants to interact, pray, and reflect on what all of this means for the local church where they live.

We have five books on our Recommended Reading list that provide context for our conversations. 

Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer, A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing (Tyndale, 2020). 

The authors directly address the “ashes” of church abuse and toxicity and promote an alternative culture of tov (the Hebrew word for “good”) which values Christlikeness (or “Christoformity”) as the highest goal for a church rather than achievement, accomplishment, or growth. 

Carmen Joy Imes, Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters (IVP, 2023).

Imes reflects on all the implications around “being God’s image” and what that looks like for each of us individually. What does it mean to be truly human? What are the related implications for the church as a community of true humans?

Iain Provan, Cuckoos in Our Nest: Truth and Lies about Being Human (Cascade, 2023).

Provan spends most of his book explaining the nature of a truly biblical view of humans (a biblical anthropology) and the comprehensive implications for this anthropology to both our thinking and living. In the last section, he highlights foreign ideas or “cuckoos” that easily sneak into the church, undermine our biblical anthropology, and turn the church away from its identity and mission.  

Christopher J.H. Wright, The Great Story and the Great Commission (Baker Academic, 2023).

Wright argues that the Great Commission must be understood not as a simple univocal command to focus exclusively on a very narrow definition of evangelism but rather as a key component within the Great Story that God is bringing to reality. That Great Story stretches from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 and reveals God’s big mission for the cosmos. Wright then provocatively suggests that the Great Commission must be understood as having not one but three large priorities: 1. Building the Church through evangelism and teaching; 2. Serving society through compassion and justice; and 3. Caring for creation. 

Andy Steiger, Reclaimed: How Jesus Restores our Humanity in a Dehumanized World (Zondervan, 2020)

Steiger also follows the biblical anthropology route and answers key questions about personhood, value, flourishing, and the path to life in light of God’s revelation through Jesus and the Scriptures. He argues that this is the path to revolutionizing our understanding or ourselves and others—and living with greater compassion in our polarized world.

On the final day of Equip 2023 (Saturday October 28), there will also be time for presentations and discussion about the next steps for our CCMBC family as it seeks “to cultivate a community and culture of healthy disciple-making churches and ministries, faithfully joining Jesus in his mission.” This time will double as both Equip 2023 and our CCMBC National Assembly. 

So, we hope you will join with us as we pray, worship, make new friendships and renew older ones, robustly talk together, and most of all reflect on and commit ourselves once again to Jesus and his mission today. 

Registration, event details, and hotel information is here. 

National Assembly registration (which must be completed separatre from EQUIP), is here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Ken Esau 

(on behalf of the National Faith & Life Team) National Faith & Life Director

Leave a Comment