Imagine Conference and Some Assessments…

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There is a great opportunity here at the conference to network and connect with people interested in church planting from across canada. The diversity of context in our culture alone is a testimony to the rapidly changing Canadian culture we find ourselves in. At one point, I was in conversation about culture with Mark Chapman, Associate Director of the Canadian Theological Seminary. His insight into the complexity of culture alone illuminated the magnitude of the interpretive and hermeneutic task we have before us. Our cultural make up is one that consists of multiple streams of modernity and postmodernity, that not only span geography, but also self identity. As we are enmeshed within culture, this conference is, in a way, a microcosm of this cultural make up and is interesting to note. All sorts are here, from emerging to modern. The importance of this mingling is the cross pollination that can happen to foster new questions about the church.

What is interesting to note is how popular the term “missional” has become. This popularity has spawned a question within me that I have sought to answer throughout the gathering. The question is: “To what degree has the term “missional” been co-opted by motives for numerical church growth”? Wisdom prompts me at this point to qualify myself a bit by suggesting that numerical growth to a degree is important, but should not serve as the primary ‘metric’ to drive ecclesiology. By focusing on numerical growth primarily, one risks the danger of distorting the gospel commodifying people in terms of market share. To go the other way, disregard for people who do not know Christ is a distortion because it neglects the reconciliatory and redemptive impulse of the Trinity. Thus we find ourselves in between trying to navigate the tides of faithfulness, which I might suggest should be the essence and goal of the church. Numerical growth is a result of faithfully embodying the gospel that is not formulaic, but a gift by the work of the Spirit’s discretion.

My assessment of this conference, through some interaction at the MTN Booth, is that the term is being co-opted by some; however, there is a strong movement away from seeing “missional” as a programmatic tweak to an existing model and more a systemic change and critique to church growth assumptions. How do I know this? People are exhausted by the tweaking and pulling of levers to never experience the depths of discipleship needed for missional transformation. Some of Alan Hirsch’s contributions to the discussion are helpful in this regard. They are asking great questions about discipleship and the church that is an encouragement to hear and in essence forms the conversation that guides the initiative of the Missional Training Network.

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Imagine Conference – Some Bloggers Emerging

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After our time with Alan Hirsch for most of the day, we headed back to the Hotel and got settled. People are arriving – up to 700 for the Imagine Conference – and bloggers are beginning to emerge. So far:

Scott Cripps is here

So is Santosh

And some Resonate boys as well

Jared and Pernell

Cam Roxburgh and I had dinner tonight with Rob Dale, pastor of Biker’s Church in Ottawa. It was not long until a bunch of the guys from his church came to join us. All of them ride. how cool is that? It was a delightful time of conversation over food and some of the stories of how they minister to the Biker sub culture were amazing. What a treat.

I am sure many more bloggers and interesting people will emerge as the conference officially kicks off tomorrow.

The comments section is up on the Missional Training Network Blog. Check there for updates as well and feel free to contribute to the conversation.

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Off to Ottawa

Missional Training Network - Missional Appetizer-1The blog has been pretty silent lately and most of that is due to a hectic schedule approaching the Imagine Conference. We (Cam Roxburgh and I) take off this morning for Ottawa and will settle in tonight for what will be an exciting week of connecting and hearing stories about church planting across Canada. Tomorrow we spend the day with Alan Hirsch before the conference kicks off on Wednesday. Look for daily posts with reflections from the conference. (One of the frustrations with a busy schedule is that it gives little time for meaningful reflection….this week will be refreshing).

Also, the Missional Training Network website and blog are now live. We are still tweaking the blog in terms of components and features; however, there is some content up. Look for the live blog posts from the conference to be posted there. We will also compile some audio and perhaps video of the events, so check back soon for updates both here and at the MTN website.

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Missional Training Network and Imagine Conference

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Tis the weekend for me to pack and prepare for the Imagine Conference in Ottawa next week. I posted about this already and while there I will be hosting the Missional Training Network booth promoting the cross Canada hubs that form the network. I will also be hosting the Missional Training Network blog in the near future and will link to it as it becomes live. Look forward to valuable resources and conversation through the MTN site with a distinct Canadian perspective. It should be up in the next day or so. Here are a couple of appetizers for some upcoming hub meetings:

Toronto Hub

November 21st – 10:00AM till 1:00PM

Click Here for the flyer with the location.

Calgary Hub

November 28th – 12:00PM till 3:00PM

Click Here for the flyer with the location.

In addition to these hubs, others in Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg will be upcoming. I will post on them soon. I will also be live blogging the Conference. I look forward to connecting with many new people in addition to some friends already connected to the MTN

About the MTN

MTN is a growing network of leaders and churches in Canada who are committed to training leaders and churches to transform their neighbourhoods. David Bosch reminded us that The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Spirit and God is sending his people into the mission field. We believe that God has called us uniquely to the country of Canada.

Although MTN got it’s start out of Southside Community Church, MTN is developing into a network of like-minded people across Canada. Our desire is that it will grow into a movement of people from all denominations, all regions of the country and with many kinds of leaders. We have some who will act as theological guides to us in the process. We have others who are spiritual mentors. We have some who are emerging leaders, and many others who are faithfully modeling servant-leadership to us.

But we are more than individuals. We are a growing network of churches and a movement of God’s people in this land who desire to support one another and to be accountable to one another in a set of practices that will lead us into a deeper level of discipleship.


If you are interested in learning more about the MTN, leave a comment and we will contact you to tell you more about this movement of missional transformation across Canada.

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