In the mid 1990s our denomination began to put structures behind a church planting impulse that had been growing among us for years. We called this structure the Church Growth Department. In order to get that department going we started gathering money through a Giving Stream and began working inter-denominationally through Church Planting Canada (CPC). It was in part through CPC that we got the idea for our network system. “Century Twenty-One,” as it was called back then, was originally designed to help get every Free Methodist church in a position to plant. While that goal never quite materialized it did cement the importance of church planting in our denominational culture. Over time, some of the larger denominations in CPC began to leave the training/resourcing table in order to develop in-house church planting programs or participate in the systems of their co-denominationalists south of the border. Larger denominations no longer needed CPC to offer direct support to their church planters. The exit of these larger denominations left a sizeable gap for similar sized denominations like ours in how we offered church planting resources.
To make matters more complex there has also been a growing gap in the Canadian mission field. The “build it and they will come” model of church planting of decades past has stopped working as reliably as it once had. It seems that fewer and fewer Canadians are looking for a better church option. In increasing numbers they aren’t even looking for a church at all. The kind of church planters Canada needs have to be more than just “service starters.” They need to be missionaries. These trends in the Canadian mission field are no longer managed by simply changing up “how we do church” so more people are attracted to it. For years now, as the church has been struggling to answer, “why church at all?” for our neighbours – increasing numbers Canadians have begun asking, “why Jesus, in the first place?” The missionary questions we now face are of such a size and complexity that no one denomination – regardless of size, tradition, or theological persuasion – seems capable of answering these questions on their own. As of late, the good news is that there is a growing number of denominations who are choosing to work together to try and tackle some of our biggest missionary challenges. We are getting together to inspire, recruit, coach, train, and send-out church planters into the new Canada. The particular collaboration the FMCiC is involved with is called the New Leaf Network. Here’s how New Leaf helps us.
- Inspire – with New Leaf our denomination has the critical mass necessary to curate and present inspiring workshops and learning opportunities.
- Coach – with New Leaf our denomination was able to train coaches and offer them a reliable coaching plan as they walk alongside our planters.
- Train – with New Leaf we have the critical mass necessary to offer rich training events and are be able to offer this training at the times of year our planters are ready to receive it.
- Research – New Leaf has played a key role in a national multi-denominational research project on Bi-Vocational Ministry in Canada. With New Leaf we are able to tackle a research projects of this complexity, scope, and academic rigor.
New Leaf is the means by which our denomination and many others are able to offer reliable and consistent help to each other’s planters.
Here’s how you can support the work that we do.
- Share this article with your board. Spread the news about the work we do and why we do it. We also have a video that covers this same content on our website.
- Pray for us regularly. We face many challenges as an organization please consider praying for the work we do and the planters we serve. The work of unity, the work of planting, and the work of acting as missionaries in Canada takes a lot of effort. We need your prayer support to keep it going.
- Consider giving to the Church Development Giving Stream. This is a primary way that our denomination and planters are able to participate in New Leaf training and events.
- Consider asking your church leaders to host a New Leaf event in your area. Leaders like yourselves have enabled New Leaf to establish new areas to offer inspiration and training to a new generation of Canadian missionaries.
- If you hear of a New Leaf event in your area consider joining us. Bring your leaders and potential leaders. If you come to one of our events and it had a positive impact on you let us know. We need the encouragement!
- Consider sharing our blog posts and podcasts on facebook, retweeting us on twitter, and liking our photos on instagram. Interacting with us on social media helps amplify our voice and it spreads the word about what God is doing in Canada.
- Finally, be proud of our denomination. We are playing a major role in getting this Network off the ground. We are investing in our future and we’re beginning to see a new wave of missionary activity in Canada.
Director, Church Planting