Do you know what the stated dream/goal/vision of The Free Methodist Church in Canada is? It’s “To See a Healthy Church within the Reach of All Canadians and Beyond.” We’ve been using that tiny little sentence for many years now. It’s on our website. It’s on some of our stationery and letterhead. It’s referred to in the talks that we in the National Leadership Team give in local churches. I’m even thinking of having Cindy Gibson cross stitch it into a laptop cover for my iBook.
Have you ever stopped to consider the significance of that sentence? In a lot of organizations a mission statement like that is merely the product of reading one too many business books on the power of vision statements. Vision statements can be the result of a General Conference “make-work” project, a marketing campaign, or a bit of branding. Sentences like that are often easily forgotten. But it seems that God has something more important in mind with our little sentence. As a result I think we should have something more important in mind too. Here is what we are noticing, in all the departments at the Ministry Centre, that led us to believe that God has every intention of helping move us toward our goal/dream/vision…
We have an unprecedented number of new pastors on track toward ordination. This has been going on for two years. At this point it’s too early to tell if it’s a just a blip or a trend. Either way MEGaP(the group that oversees our pastors) has never been so busy. This year and next they will be at their limit interviewing and guiding these new pastors. This size of group is all on a scale that we haven’t seen in recent memory or perhaps ever in Canadian history. So, what does God have in mind for this group of men and women? What are they all being trained to do? What new vision and abilities will they be bringing to the table?
We are seeing a developing ability to respond to the diversity of Canada. Thanks to the openness of existing churches and the planting of new kinds of churches, Canadians from all walks of life, from all income levels, and from all parts of the globe are finding a home among us. This is not the result of some well planned strategic movements drafted at the Ministry Centre (although we do work for this kind of stuff). These people, projects, and plants are working from a vision that God gave them — a vision that is in complete harmony with that little sentence. If this trend of openness and effective cultural response continues it will change the face of our denomination. Imagine a General Conference in the future where all the cultures of Canada are represented. When we wrote that sentence this was a dream few dared believe in. If this keeps up, in a few years it could be a reality.
We are seeing deeper, more personal, and lasting connections to projects and people beyond Canada’s borders. Churches have increased their giving of money, time, and energy to overseas projects. What increased role is God preparing us to play in the wider world?
Whether we expected it or believed it ourselves, God is working with us to accomplish what we wrote down in that tiny little sentence. His response to us has been so overwhelming that it begs a new response from us. In response to God we are going to need: bigger dreams (we need to have something inspiring for all those new pastors to do), increased prayer support (join others across the country as the Bishop leads us in fasting and prayer), more courageous giving (last year we had less than half of what was needed by our new churches), and to live fearlessly devoted lives as we participate in God’s mission to Canada. If God was able to accomplish all he has in recent history with a sentence and the openness of our hearts… imagine what he could do with the rest of us!
Jared Siebert is the Director of Growth Ministries for The Free Methodist Church in Canada. For more information on church planting initiatives visitwww.lifecycleproject.org