Why I'm Helping to Plan Another Canadian National Gathering

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After hosting a party or Christmas dinner, do you make changes so that the next one will run better? Why would you host something that takes so much effort and time. . . again?

This is my second planning team for the Canadian National Gathering (my third if you include the Classis Toronto CCC event in January 2013). Why would I volunteer to plan this Gathering (#crcgathering)?

First off, the smiles. The excitement. The social interaction. The hard work of thinking, planning, sharing, pointing forward, the love for the CRC (#crcna) as church people interact.

God gifted me with organizational skills. You aren’t supposed to bury a gift, so I use it. I’m good at planning things. I have an eye for logistics and problem solving. Much of which has come through trial and error. In my previous life-work, I helped plan and lead wilderness outdoor trips (hiking, winter camping, snowshoeing, canoeing) for school groups.

I really enjoy planning for The Gathering. It takes a lot of time and energy. But it is a joyful, blessed task.

My “day time” job is that of a pastor. In a small, rural church. North of Toronto. In a geographical feature called The Holland Marsh. I have the privilege of preaching. Doing pastoral care. Teaching. Leading. Living in a beautiful farming community. Coaching basketball and baseball to community youth. I am grateful to my church council and congregation for allowing me to serve on this planning team. It’s their gift to Canadian Ministry and the denomination.

I am currently serving on the Classis Executive Committee for a second time since arriving in Classis Toronto. The first time around on CEC is when I helped organize the CCC (Canadian Catalytic Conversation) in 2013.

Which led to being asked by the newly minted Canadian Ministry Director in 2014 to help organize an event for 2016. It was a privilege to work with a diverse and skilled team for that event.

When you put something together, you discover better ways of doing it. Until it becomes a finely tuned machine. There were a few bumps leading up to the 2016 event. They seemed overwhelming and impossible to overcome. However, after meeting the almost 150 people who arrived in Waterloo, watching them become fully engaged, listening to their excited conversations, experiencing their smiles and words of thanks, worshipping with Jeremy Benjamin, and then serving communion and blessing one small child during our Sunday service, I knew I had another event in me to tinker on making this one run better (maybe there will be more, we’ll have to see what God gives).

I also have a deep love and appreciation for Canadian Ministry. There are so many unique and wonderful things we as CRC folk do for people in various pockets throughout Canada. I am humbled to be part of it. My offering of thanks to the church and to God is to serve in this small way on the planning team.

Planning the Gathering is a privilege. We are gifted a certain amount of money from the denomination, registration fees, and private donations to host a sharing and planning celebration. I’m frugal enough that I want to steward that money well, while blessing the people who give of their time to travel and serve over the 3 day event. I am once acting as the treasurer and the registration person. I’m happy to not have to look after the travel logistics this time around since 75% of the attendees will be flying in from across Canada.

Why do I serve on the planning team for the Canadian National Gathering?

I am passionate and excited about ministry in Canada. I love helping to bring people to the table to have them share, to engage, and to champion with others ministry in Canada, locally and nationally. I return a small portion of the gifts God has given me.

I am eager to spending time with the almost 150 people that will be arriving in Edmonton in May 2019. To hear your life stories, your ministry stories, your God-moments, your excitement and passion for ministry, your frustrations and challenges. This is the privilege I have in helping to set the table for sharing in the burden and joy of ministry in the church as we live for Jesus.

There is more I could say. I hope you get the idea. If you aren’t able to make 2019 in Edmonton, then be on the lookout for the Gathering in 2022…and see if you can join us for celebrating, planning, encouraging, guiding Canadian Ministry into God’s emerging future for the CRC.

In Christ, Richard Bodini (aka Dominee Dickie)

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Community Builder

Greetings, Richard.

The Canadian Ministry gatherings are always great events. That's where I fell in love. With the Church, I mean. It is as much a social event as it is a spiritual event.

As I look at the Canadian cultural landscape and the growing absence of Christ and faith, I hope that the next National Gathering has more of a Kingdom focus. How does -- and should -- the CRC impact, shape, and transform the Canadian culture? How do classes and congregations bring Christ into the communities they serve?

These gatherings -- as wonderful as they are -- need to bring Christ to the nation. And while there is considerable merit in having CRC types serving on various interdenominational boards and committees, there is a passionate need to bring the Kingdom into the hearts of our pew-sitters.

In my role with the Canadian Christian Business Federation, thousands of Christian men and women who are involved in business or the professions are being regularly challenged to reflect Christ in the marketplace. That involves, at minimum, bringing a culture of integrity to those in business.

Imagine the thousands of CRC folk across the country who focus on living lives of integrity, daring to share the gospel with neighbors and co-workers. Thousands of men, women and children who dare to wear the name of Christ on their sleeves ... figuratively, of course.

My hope for the National Gathering is that it becomes a place where action speaks louder than words; where the Kingdom is proclaimed instead of celebrating our fine organizational structure.

 

Community Builder

Thanks for your comments Keith.

Yes. Yes. Yes. A missional church active in every sphere of life. Living for Jesus in word and deed.

I have the same hope as you. And many more. 

I anticipate seeing the Spirit at work in a powerful and abundant fashion in Edmonton next May.

Blessings on the journey.  

Hi Keith

Thank you so much for your response and concerns.  As a member of the planning team I want to assure you that we are working to ensure that our conversations and discussion at The Gathering will focus on the role of the church in local communities and Canadian society.  We want to see all members of the CRC engaged in living the good news to the benefit of our local communities and our country, perhaps extending to other nations as well.  We would love to see a cadre of people equipped to assist local congregations to become engaged locally as they live out Christ's mission recorded in Luke 4 and Matthew 28.  Rather than "just" head "knowledge" we hope that gatherers will return to their own congregations and classes with possible action plans or items.  We hope that these will consist of very practical suggestions and that classes throughout Canada will "see" and acknowledge representatives from their areas as people who have developed some insight and plans for local action.

 

John Vanderhoek

Community Builder

That's great news, John.

I think that the key is mobilize pew-sitters to become activists within their communities. I would hate to see churches create yet one more formal program of community outreach, Mobilize the members to do that.

I have seen groups of Christian men and women involved in business or the professions who spend Saturdays throughout the summer beautifying their communities: picking up garbage, painting public spaces, painting derilect buildings. I have see groups of business owners collectively raise $100,000 to build a Habitat for Humanity house and turn it over to a needy family. I have seen business leaders build self-storage units and then turn over the profits each year to local youth ministry.

As I said, I'd hate to see the church formally take on those community projects. Let the church focus on preaching the gospel, leading their members and those from the community in their spiritual walk. But have the church create an atmosphere within the congregation that encourages community involvement in a wide variety of ways.

It would be wonderful to have young men and women -- after they have publicly processed their faith -- to ask: "What's next?" How can I use my gifts within the Kingdom of God ... recognizing that that Kingdom does indeed stretch beyond the church's walls.

All of us Christ-believers spend at least 95% of our time outside of the church's walls. We are called to make a difference in the lives of those we meet, and that certainly includes our local town, village, city, province/state, nation.