Next Steps for Ministry in Canada

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Can you imagine a Christian Reformed Church in Canada that is known for the following?

  • Wholistic missional engagement with the community
  • Advocate for justice together on behalf of aboriginal peoples and the poor
  • Work ecumenically locally and nationally for impact
  • Vigorous faith formation and discipleship
  • Intergenerational connections and bridging
  • Embrace diversity and cross-cultural work together
  • Mature, organic empowering denomination
  • Vital reformed identity
  • Articulate, competent leadership

(Imagining Ministry in the CRC in Canada: A Review of Canadian Ministry and the Canadian Ministry Director Position, April 2013)

This is the vision for 2020, based on dialogue with CRC members across Canada in 2013. Now it is 2016 - time to focus on the next steps on the path to 2020. Last month, Canadian Ministries Director Darren Roorda, posted a blog about the upcoming Canadian National Gathering. The Gathering, which will take place from May 6–8 in Waterloo, Ontario, is meant to build on progress made and shape the next steps. Participants will refresh our reading of our context in Canada, share local strategies for more effective ministry, link them nationally, and renew our energy for making a difference in Canada.

A new CRC ministry plan works from the local church up to achieve this vision, along with similar plans by churches in the US. We have a new leadership team and they are working together with a fresh approach to what it means to be one church in two countries, which are both similar and different in important ways for ministry. The board of the Canada Corporation now has a clear mandate and the tools it needs to shape a Canadian face for the CRC that can relate well to what is happening around us in Canada. The table is set.

Now it is up to members and churches in Canada to engage in shaping the next phase of CRC ministry in Canada and then doing it, together, from the local level to the national level. The National Gathering will bring together local ministry leaders for a time of inspiration, reflection on what God is doing in Canada and what God wants us to do next, and practical sharing of what works and what does not. This is about ministry in context, not doctrine or the structural questions that have taken time to refresh in the last five years. The outcomes, along with outcomes of gatherings in the United States, will be shared with classes, boards, and Synod to help shape how we together move forward in ministry.

After spending more time than I would have liked on necessary structural changes, I am hopeful and keen to see flourishing ministry that speaks more richly to our context in Canada and the US, and thereby adds value to our global mission as well.  

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The framework for Gathering 2019 to be held in Edmonton, May 24 - 26 has been set.  Gathering 2019 team continues to consider ways in which the event will be helpful and stimulating for gatherers and, especially, be a blessing to congregations of the CRC in Canada, and, perhaps, the U.S. as well.  Gathering 2019 team has purposely chosen not to import powerful and insightful presenters.  Gatherers, sent by the various classes throughout Canada, are being encouraged to read, pray, fast, read and memorize scripture, view films, and receive input from local church councils as preparation for what promises to be an intense weekend of listening to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.  Together, as people of God, we're listening to input from various sources, some CRC and many from other believers to help shape conversation.  The planning team is expecting that gatherers will be challenged by what they read and hear and will be willing to be creative and open in their conversation leading to new challenges for the CRC.  It's like in Acts 1 where about 120 people waited for the coming of the Spirit Who would help them deepen their understanding of Who Jesus was and the mission He had given the church. The church in an increasingly secular world needs to explore ways of addressing the needs of this world and, especially our neighbours.  What will this look like?  I am eager to find out what gatherers want to convey to the church.