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I was excited to attend the Church Planting Canada Congress along with most of my Resonate Canada East teammates. Having heard reports of previous events, I was looking forward to developing a better understanding of church planting and to experiencing the fellowship and team building that results from traveling and learning together. The Congress, which was originally scheduled for an in-person gathering in Alberta, was moved to an online format as Covid-19 case numbers locked down the province.

Those same dates found Resonate team members and church planters from Canada East, as well as invited guests at a Retreat Centre in Guelph, Ontario. In a classic pivot, the Church Planting Institute, led by Pastor John Bouwers, and together with Beth Fellinger, Resonate’s Regional Mission Leader in Canada East, pulled together a meaningful and reflective session that inspired all in attendance. Various Church Planters shared their stories of both success and challenge and portions of the Church Planting Canada Congress were viewed. Meditative exercises and quiet times led to personal reflection and breakthroughs. After-hours fellowship and shared meals renewed and revitalized us. 

The retreat began with a grounding in self care. Our guest speaker was Allen Kleine Deters of Agora Network Ministries. The network’s mission is to bring hope and healing to the Christian community by addressing the stigma and issues surrounding mental health. Allen brought to the group his own experience as a bivocational church planter, as well his journey to better mental health.

He detailed the signs of mental fatigue and distress and shared mitigation strategies and tools. Often it is a time when we should seek rest, opening ourselves to receive what God will give us and then to respond as the Holy Spirit makes us able. 

Each church planter was called on to offer their story and to reflect on church planting in general. I was so glad to participate and offer some of the highlights from my notes below: 

  • There can be a blur between church renewal and church planting.
  • We need to follow the rhythm and be open to innovation.
  • Our stories and those of our community are so important. 
  • A previously planted church (recent past) may be in a better position to plant churches.
  • Church planting: an attractional model with a missional heart.
  • God wants this more than we do—we need to take one faith step in front of another. 
  • Nothing powerful happens without prayer.
  • Campus ministry can be a model for church planting. 

There was so much more. For me, as a relatively new Resonate team member, it was an introduction and an inspiration. I am blessed to have shared the time with so many leaders and to have witnessed firsthand God’s presence in their lives and ministries. I will bring this inspiration forward in my role as Resonate Local Mission Leader and Mission Catalyst within Classis Huron. Praise God for His vision for His people!

Joan Brady is a Resonate Local Mission Leader and Mission Catalyst, serving with Classis Huron.

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