*Update* July 7, 2019
In June, the board of Multiply announced a shift in mission strategy in response to “a significant gap between expenses and revenue for North American church planting.”
“Multiply is refocusing on serving the MB denominational family in church planting both in North America and globally,” says Multiply president Randy Friesen. “We could no longer sustain the multidenominational network services and staffing. We support ownership of church planting moving back more intentionally to the provincial structures.”
Church planting changes
The changes affect personnel added the previous year through the merger of MB Mission and the C2C Network.
Transitioned out of Multiply, the newly formed C2C Collective frames itself as a “catalyst for church planting and multiplication” in North America, “built on a solid trust and dependence upon the Spirit of God,” according to their website. Ron Leonard is the Canadian director with Chad MacDonald, Kris Martens, Trevor Seath and Patrice Nagant as regional directors, and Ben Connelly as U.S. director. Gord Fleming has stepped back from active ministry to care for family. Mark Burch is returning to pastoral ministry. Johnny Thiessen has accepted a church planting resourcing role with another denomination.
The work of indigenous ambassador Paul Winter will continue under the support of the local church in Manitoba.
Multiply retains MB church planting resource staff to coordinate with provincial and national structures and strategies as invited: Ewald Unruh – Canada East, Reg Toews – Canada West, Chris Douglas – US.
“We anticipate collaborating with the C2C collective where those broader network services are helpful and with Paul Winter for his expertise,” says Friesen.
“Ownership for mission and discipleship strategy must get closer to the local church and provinces,” says Friesen of the announced restructuring of short-term mission training programs. Established discipleship training programs (SOAR, ACTION, TREK, etc.) will continue as partners explore new possibilities.
“We anticipate new mission and discipleship strategies and programs being developed with local churches and provinces in the coming season as we serve together on provincial mission strategy teams and nationally through the new collaborative model,” says Friesen.
On behalf of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches, moderator Bruce Enns says, “We are committed to working closely with Randy, the Multiply board, as well as our USMB partners, to bring Multiply into a new season of health and effectiveness, as a catalyst and tremendous resource to assist the local church in multiplying healthy leaders and disciple-making churches, locally, nationally, and globally.
June 30 update: a letter from Randy Friesen
This week we have hosted our regional team leaders from around the world and our global service team for a week of listening and strategizing together. It’s been a week of looking back on the pain of our recent mission shifts and looking ahead to what God has for us. God led us in repentance for running ahead of our missionaries and staff in some of our decisions over the past season, and for not listening well. We have functioned more like an organization than like a family which has eroded trust and relationships.
We take ownership for the failures of this past season and we ask for your forgiveness.
We sincerely desire to enter into a posture of waiting and listening for how we can move forward together in mission. We have been and will continue to take steps to engage our staff, long-term workers, board and churches in this process so we can hear what God is speaking to us in this season.
We believe that God is still calling us to be on mission together local, national and global, which also includes serving North America as a new region.
Our continued hope and calling is to see a multitude of every tongue, tribe, and nation before the throne of God, worshipping the Lamb (Rev 7:9).
From the board of Multiply (formerly known as MB Mission), June 2019
When we, the board of Multiply, approved the merger of MB Mission and C2C with the support of the Canadian and US MB Conferences, our collective desire was to see God’s kingdom advance. With the expanded scope and vision of ministry, our expense requirements grew. This fiscal year, although donations to Multiply were greater than ever before, there was still a significant gap between expenses and revenue.
While our intention has been to serve both our MB family and our many denominational partners well, there is more work to be done on both fronts. We have received requests by MB provinces/districts to be more involved in decision-making regarding the planting of new MB churches.
In response, we are significantly reducing expenses and making the following two shifts in our mission strategy:
1. The multi-denominational aspect of our North American church planting (formerly known as the C2C Network) is being released from Multiply, both organizationally and financially.
The Multiply board affirms and blesses this new ministry in their vision to be a free-standing North American multi-denominational network. Be assured that the Multiply board is still committed to planting and resourcing Mennonite Brethren churches locally, nationally, and globally.
2. Multiply will restructure their short-term mission training programs with a renewed focus on serving the mission and discipleship strategies of local churches, both in North America and globally.
We anticipate current training programs to continue as well as new programs to be birthed through local church partnerships.
Multiply has been serving the MB global family in mission for 120 years. These current shifts retain the integration of local mission with global, but also refocus Multiply as an MB-based church-planting network with kingdom partnerships, rather than a multi-denominational church-planting network that serves the MB family.
The Multiply board is very grateful for the support of our MB churches and we appreciate the contributions of the Multiply staff. We acknowledge that this is a challenging time. We realize that these cutbacks are potentially difficult for those involved, and so we will continue to pray for all those affected by these decisions.
Our hope and confidence rests in God and in his ability to guide and provide. The Board is committed to working very closely with Randy to bring Multiply into a new season of health and effectiveness.
On behalf of the Multiply board,
Brent Warkentin, board chair (Wichita, KS)
Allan Dickens (Williams Lake, B.C.)
David Marshall (Surrey, B.C.)
Kimberlee Jost (Hillsboro, KS)
Ed Heinrichs (Torrance, Ont.)
Ruth Schale (Bakersfield, Cal.)
Archie Eutsler (Wichita, Kan.)
Shirley Falk (Saskatoon)
Jeff Gowling (Bakersfield, Cal.)
David Maclean (Kelowna, B.C.)
From the CCMBC executive board
Our CCMBC executive board supports and walks together with Randy Friesen and the Multiply board in this time of difficult decisions.
We are upholding them in prayer along with all those affected by these changes.
We are committed to working closely with Randy, the Multiply board, as well as our USMB partners, to bring Multiply into a new season of health and effectiveness, as a catalyst and tremendous resource to assist the local church in multiplying healthy leaders and disciple-making churches, locally, nationally, and globally.
We continue to trust God and walk in faith through these times of both challenge and opportunity.
moderator, executive board, Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches
Updated July 16, 2019: details of Paul Winter appointment corrected.