A Vision for the Church

A Vision for the Church

Attachment 1 to “Emerging Voices Initiative: Summary

Mennonite Church Canada is headed for change. As members from congregations across Canada, we share hopes and priorities for the future. The following eleven points represent areas we find particularly important at this moment. We developed them collaboratively to guide our response to the Future Directions Task Force report, which often shares and expresses these convictions.

Many of these points represent the best of what we have already seen and experienced in the church, as well as our hopes for its future. Their continued realization depends on both individual and communal action.

Right now, we believe that the church and its members are called to…

  1. Follow Jesus

More than anything, we believe our call is to follow Jesus, who showed God’s desires for humanity. Taking Jesus’ life as our model and listening to the Holy Spirit as God’s presence today, we find an invitation to live as a people of peace who share, serve and welcome.

  1. Commit

We believe that we are called to lifelong exploration of what it means to follow God. We understand baptism as an integral expression of personal and communal commitment to ongoing exploration; we hope for a church where our identity in Christ is shaped and nurtured through active, regular participation in the life of congregations and the broader church.

  1. Worship Together

We long for Sunday mornings to be a shared experience between friend and stranger, young and old: unity in Christ amid a fragmented society. Regular worship attendance is a rhythm that strengthens and maintains our faith. Gatherings between multiple congregations for celebration and discussion affirm our broader identity and purpose.

  1. Form Disciples

We want all generations to have learning, service and leadership opportunities. Children, seniors and everyone in between actively participating in worship instills a sense of belonging in church. Other programs like camps and Christian education connect people from different congregations, improve outreach, and encourage people to apply faith in all areas.

  1. Foster Accountability

We aim to support and challenge one another in faithful living. We hope that through sharing, vulnerability, and engagement we will accept responsibility for each other’s actions and call one another to participate in the mission and values of the church. As Paul’s letters called the early church to accountability, we desire a community rooted in support and encouragement.

  1. Tend to its Gifts

Land, wealth and all resources, including human abilities, are gifts from God for the good of all. As God instructed humanity to care for creation and one another, we desire for our faith to guide individual and collective use of our gifts. We hope the church will promote biblical foundations for ecological and economic practices, and help members apply those principles in daily life.

  1. Engage Neighbours

An open door invites people in, but also invites us to step out; we hope that each congregation can shape and be shaped by its local community. By partnering with community initiatives outside the church, we answer the call to love and be loved by our neighbours.

  1. Bridge Social Divides

As we read about Jesus and the early church breaking barriers between social groups, we hear a calling to bridge such divides today. We long for one body with many parts, where embracing difference leads to a fuller expression of what it means to be the church.

  1. Nurture Global Family

In the story of Abraham and Sarah we see God’s desire for a global family to grow from a particular people. We affirm the gifts of diverse congregations, regions, and denominations, but ultimately hear Christians called to be Christ’s unified body. We long for a church that connects us to something bigger than ourselves, our congregations, our regions, and our denomination. We also long to be Christ’s presence in the world, engaging people from all religions and walks of life.

  1. Live the Anabaptist Story

We believe that, as a Mennonite church, we can better understand our faith by knowing the historic and contemporary Anabaptist story. We continue to feel called to peacemaking and voluntary membership, while also fostering connections with other people around the world who have arrived at similar convictions in their own ways.

  1. Trust God

We acknowledge that the church ultimately belongs to God and is a sign of God’s Kingdom. God is always working within and beyond the institutional church. We recognize that the world’s redemption is in God’s hands, and our actions and structures should reflect our best attempts to participate in God’s work, not control it.

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Originally published March 4, 2016

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2 thoughts on “A Vision for the Church

  1. clarkefast says:

    I am so incredibly encouraged to read about this. I was online researching the Future Directions Task Force-related articles on the Canadian Mennonite site so I could write a paper for a class, that I also wanted to submit as an article in the CM, in which I ask questions about the vision of the church that is emerging from the FDTF. As a Manitoban Mennonite, I am studying the history of mission (with a focus on Mennonite missions in DR Congo) at Boston University right now. I think that the question of how to define the church, and how to relate local, regional and global structures or networks together, is a fundamental theological question. In my research I see that the way this question is answered, especially as it relates to cross-cultural mission, has a major impact on the kinds of global relationships that are formed. I am so encouraged to see the energy of the younger generation (my generation!) in addressing this question from an ecclesiological point of view – what is the church?
    I wish I could be in Winnipeg to join in the discussion, as I know several of you personally – Josiah, Jonas, etc.
    One article you might be interested in reading is by John Roth – “’Blest be the ties that Bind’: In Search of the Global Anabaptist Church” 2012 Bechtel Lectures. Lecture Two: What hath Zurich to do with Addis Ababa? The Conrad Grebel Review 31:1 (Winter 2013): 24-43. E-mail me for details.
    Thank you for being an example of listening to the Spirit and lovingly bringing your thoughts to the larger church. Bless you. I will be following the blog as your reflections develop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nancy Frey says:

    These 11 points have really encouraged me. I would love for my teenage children to be part of a church that adheres to these principles. (We live in Burkina Faso, so a little far from Canada.) I have always been optimistic about the future of the church because there are many creative, intelligent and committed young people who have been shaped by the Anabaptist/Mennonite faith to make the world a better place. This document is one more example of that. Thanks so much for your great work.

    Liked by 1 person

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