“Ultimately,” said Gord Fleming, head of the C2C church planting network, “we are praying for revival in our land.” Reporting to Gathering 2014, the convention of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches in Vancouver, Fleming harked back to early days when each province had a lone worker charged with ‘church extension’. “God has reorganized the team,” he said. “We are all one, now.” Delegates heard of church planting and opportunities in the cities and countrysides of Canada, and how Mennonite Brethren are working with other denominations to spread the good news of Jesus.
Johnny Thiessen of Alberta and Dwayne Barkman of Saskatchewan spoke of the in-migration to their province’s cities, because of the booming economies there. “We need to plant 15 churches a year in Calgary just to keep up with the people,” Johnny Thiessen quipped.
Fleming said it is too easy to “buy into the lie” that it is hopeless to try to plant churches in cities. “We need to remember,” he said, “that Jesus does have dominion from sea to sea.”
Earlier, Bruce Guenther, president of Canada’s Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, told delegates that part of the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28 is to teach. He said the early Pietist movement held that when they planted a church, they had to start a school as well. “They understood that starting schools that were not oriented also to make disciples would miss the mark.” He said in recent times, too many Bible colleges and seminaries in North America have closed, that that fact is sad. Seminaries are not as visible as many other causes, and so donors have not always seen seminary support with the same urgency. He said student loan debts in Canada and the U.S. meanwhile have increased dramatically. “We want to avoid increasing tuition.”
Guenther said MBBS is making seminary training more accessible and flexible, with on-line content, modular courses, and even – soon – live streaming.