Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mission Canada Retreat... Axis Cafe, Edmonton

At the tail end of this General Conference, I am in a Mission Canada retreat where George and Eileen are hosting our Mission Canada missionaries in a two day seminar on Fundraising. While the subject matter may not seem particularly sexy, it has been extremely valuable on a number of fronts. First, there was a considerable amount of time spent on working through biblical texts in developing a biblical theology of how money relates to the Kingdom of God and furthering His purposes. It helped us to understand that when we approach people to partner with us in our ministry we are including them in God’s redemptive purposes. It is not about us. It is about God, his purposes and how he intends us to work with Him in concrete ways with what He has given us.

 John Engels ( the BCCM director ) and his wife Nancy led and taught the seminar. They shared  real life examples that we all found instructive and inspiring. . We were challenged to be able to summarize and communicate what we are about and what it is that we do. Not only that... but why people should actually care. As you can imagine, this is a profoundly clarifying exercise.

While I do depend on the support and partnership of individuals and churches to make my role as national campus ministry coordinator possible, I found that working through the material was about much more than finances. It was about vision, faith, core motivations, communication, relationships and attention to details. Finances is simply one (albeit a necessary) part of a greater picture. I attest to the value of the exercises in that I feel compelled to both spend time in prayer and to attend to my ‘to do’ list.

It makes me deeply grateful to be where I am and doing what I am doing. It is not by right. It is by grace. ``

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

General Conference 3

Ok, more on General Conference.  We just finished the morning session of the second day where we were addressed by Dr Ivan Satyavrata, from Kolkata, India. He is an amazing combination. he earned his Th.M at my alma mater, Regent College and then his Ph.D from Oxford. In his native India, he has been a frontline street minister, author, a Bible College President, pastor of a large urban church and overseer to over 350 churches in the surrounding region.

So, here in brief form is an outline of what he brought to share with us. It was so good to hear his perspective on world missions speaking as a true leader of the church worldwide.

Quoting the words of the Great Commission, Ivan focused on the critical and tragically overlooked word ‘as’. Our failure to recognize the significance of this term has led to fundamentally flawed views and practices of mission.

Briefly, he outlined three flawed views or paradigms that have influenced and shaped how the church has done mission in the past two centuries.


1. Colonization Key words: Subdue, conquer, subjugate.

2.Commercialization Key Words: Efficiency, ‘bang for the buck’, ‘souls per dollar’.

3. Corporatization Key words: Marketing, packaging,

In developing a biblical approach to mission, in other words “As the Father has sent me, so I send you…” Ivan gave us three key words or concepts modeled in the life of Jesus.

Intimacy. All mission is rooted in intimacy with God. Without this it becomes drudgery. It is powerless.

Servanthood. Mission is laying one’s life down in costly service for another. A memorable quote as he distilled an interaction between E.Stanley Jones and Gandhi. “ The Basin and Towel will prove irresistible.”

Friendship. With God and with each other. “That we love one another” . There is no room for a competitive, divisive spirit. He underscored the value of being part of a ‘Fellowship’ of churches and being in an intentional relationship.

General Conference 2

I wasn’t planning on giving a blow by blow account of the General Conference. However, last night was a ‘one of’. I have never seen anything like it, nor will I be likely to before my time is up on this earth. Not even mentioning the solid worship and inspiring free form artist, let me tell you about it.

Our General Superintendent, David Wells, is a special leader. People have long known that there was ‘something about him’. Before he took the post of GS, he was the District Superintendent in the BC/Yukon district which he led with skill and vision. Tonight, he gave us a window into what went into his own personal development.

David’s vision for our Fellowship is distilled in his phrase ‘Rooted in Relationship’. It is a bit of a mantra around our office. Tonight, he took out a bold highliner and underscored what it means.

Since the conference was in the town where he grew up, and since he is the boss, he was able to orchestrate an truly educational and inspiring event. Starting with his aunt who took him to church as an eight year old boy, he brought up onto the stage people who had a role in his spiritual development over the years. Former Sunday school teachers, pastors, mentors, his friends and finally his parents and his wife, Susan, were each honoured in turn.

He used each of them to underscore what he meant when he talks about ‘Rooted in Relationship’. He took it out of the realm of cliché and drove home its meaning and relevancy. Home run, David!

General Conference 1

I am at the 2010 General Conference of the PAOC, representing Mission Canada Campus Ministries. While I am not one for conferences, and quite frankly was not looking forward to this one, I must say that I am glad to be here. There is something powerful that happens as people who are ‘difference makers’ for the Kingdom congregate to express their collective unity and their recognition of the Lordship of Christ. Whether it is in the local church, the home, the market place, overseas, the campus or wherever the gospel is made known, these people are making Jesus known. For all of our human weakness and imperfection, it is a privilege to count myself among them.

Thanks to George Werner and team, Mission Canada has the coolest booth in the conference. More importantly, it is ideally placed to meet people and have discussions with them about things that matter.

Having helped set up the booth last night ( Monday the 10 ) it was gratifying to see the Shaw Convention Centre, in Edmonton fill up with hundreds of participants to worship and to hear a powerful message from George Wood, who is the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, which is our American counterpart. When I say powerful, let me say what I mean. It is only partly about delivery. It was a great biblical exposition of Leah, one of the matriarchs of the Bible. Dr. Woods developed a character study of Leah in distinction to her sister Rachel. It illustrated the core point that God works in ways we simply do not understand and that he uses the seemingly insignificant things of this earth to accomplish works of eternal worth. He combined it with personal stories that hit the ball out of the proverbial park. Ringing in our ears, was the challenge.. what are you doing right now that will matter in a hundred years ( let alone eternity )?