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…
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Originally published March 4, 2016
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