Leadership development is a biblical mandate. It is also the best way to express personnel work in The Free Methodist Church in Canada (FMCiC.) To have healthy churches requires healthy pastors, and more of them. Pastoral leaders among others (apostles, prophets, and evangelists, Eph 4 11,) have a clear calling: “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ,” (Eph 4:12). Are we becoming a movement that is growing in God’s mission to reach all people or just an institution that warmly remembers a glorious past when God was at work. I want to be part of a movement where God is at work. Here’s the snapshot.
MEGaP Interviews. A big thanks to the Ministerial Education Guidance and Placement (MEGaP) committee. These are dedicated and hard working interview teams of 34 pastors and lay people. In 2006, there were 120 people ready for MEGaP interviews. We could only interview 55. This is a problem, but a good one. It means that we have men and women in our churches taking the next step in carrying out their call to ministry. For 2007, almost 70 candidates are ready for interviews and MEGaP has capacity to interview 55 again. These include church planters, inter-cultural pastors, cross-cultural workers (missionaries), transfers in, second career candidates, and those wanting to serve in existing Canadian local churches.
New People Tracking. All followers of Christ have a call. We define “tracking” as candidates in the FMCiC accepting a call to a higher level of accountability and training. We’ve wondered if this is “catch up,” or a regular flow of candidates tracking from 2004 and previous years. We only have accurate statistics of those who starting tracking since 2004. In 2004, there were over 50 who started tracking. This is not catch up because we had 32 new people start tracking in 2005, and 34 started in 2006. Is this going to be a new trend? It’s too early to tell, but we know that there is a regular flow of new people in our tracking each year. We are thankful.
Foundational Courses continue to grow. All candidates need to take the Foundational Course, “Heart of Canadian Free Methodism.” This course helps candidates decide if their hearts beat with the heart of our movement. All Foundational Courses are offered by us on weekends across the country. However, students may take Introduction to Bible and Introduction to Doctrine as equivalency courses at a bible college or seminary.
Wesleyan Theology. Rev. David Ashton will teach Wesleyan Theology on April 27-29, 2007. This may be the last time you can take this great course from David due to his retirement. The BOA, Lorne Park College Foundation and MEGaP have Wesleyan scholarship on the top of their agenda. We will have two Canadian graduate students attend the course as Prof. Ashton’s teaching assistants. We are preparing now for a future crop of teachers to keep a high standard in Wesleyan studies in Canada.
Ethos of Generosity. MEGaP has added a new Foundational Course that is vital to our movement. All new candidates tracking with us as of May 30, 2007 will need complete this course. All pastors will take this course as a Continuing Education Unit within the next 5 years. It will be offering help in personal finances and building generous hearts towards the needs of others.
Members of Conference. Our vision in the FMCiC is “A healthy church within the reach of all Canadians and beyond.” One of the markers is the increase in members of conference. Between 1999 and 2002 we updated the conference records. The accurate membership was 223. In 2006 we have a total of 158 people tracking for ministry of which 70 are ordination candidates. In 2006 we stand at 227 members. In 2008 factoring in probable deaths and transfers out per year, we anticipate that our membership could be at 287 by next General Conference.
National MEGaP and Leadership Development Plan (LDP). This is a “seed” experiment that has been germinating since 2004. There are 12-14 pastoral leaders who have demonstrated local capacity to live out Ephesians 4:12, “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (New Living Translation) In concert with National MEGaP, these LDP churches are being trained to do interviewing locally for their own candidates. MEGaP is guiding the interviewing process. The NMEGaP will always be the main delivery system for credentialing candidates; it is not expected that all local churches will have capacity to take on an LDP function. As MEGaP empowers LDP local churches, it will keep us from expanding the number of people on MEGaP to meet the current demand.
Kingdom on Earth. The Lord’s Prayer says, “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” That means the renewed earth will resemble heaven and the body of Christ on earth will resemble heaven. Are we becoming a vital movement in the Body of Christ? Yes. Are we there yet? No. Eph 4:13 says it’s God’s purpose to bring unity in the whole body, it will resemble heaven, on earth. The kingdom on earth will have a Body of vital followers of Jesus, caring about those whom Jesus loves, in areas we are called to serve. As we become a movement, it will be because Jesus is fulfilling his promise, “I will build my church.” As a movement we pray earnestly the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come on earth.” That’s a great reason to be a movement. It’s a great purpose for our lives.
Rev. Alan Retzman is Director of Personnel for The Free Methodist Church in Canada