Evangel – Summer 2014
Western Canadian Leadership Summit Review • May 19-21, 2014
“If you want to preserve the past, don’t wear your father’s hat – have children to reinterpret why and how he wore his, for your own generation.”
So offered Alan Hirsch in this year’s Western Canadian Leadership Summit at Alberta Bible College. Alan and his wife Debbie were the primary resource leaders of the annual three-day Summit. The Hirsches, who have deep Restoration Movement roots in Australia, now serve as consultants across denominational lines in a ministry of revitalizing congregations and movements in both North America and Europe.
The Summit drew the largest gathering (fifty-two) of our Restoration Movement leaders in the West in the last while. A number of house church leaders from the Edge Network in Calgary also attended, with several ABC alumni among them, plus several from the larger Christian community. ABC alumni Sue and Doug Cryer provided food hospitality.
It would be enough to simply get together to build up and celebrate who we are together in Christ. However, judging from the lively conversations generated, the goal of stirring up the way we think and live the mission of Christ in our culture was also achieved.
Kelly Carter, minister of Calgary Church of Christ, and Ryan Scruggs, ABC Registrar, started our journey around the theme of “Discipling Remixed” by reminding us that the “missional church” is not a fad, but proceeds from deeply essential biblical understandings of who God is as both “the sending God” and in Jesus Christ, “the One sent.” The missional church is obedient in following Jesus: “as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Alan Hirsch provided valuable theological and biblical foundations around “the mission of God”: our understanding of the church (ecclesiology) must take its shape from our understanding of God (theology). “Mission resides in who God is and therefore who we, His people, are.” In addition, he challenged the Summit to find these essentials again, and “to repent of the things that we’ve made essential that are not.” Faithfulness involves de-sacralizing the forms of the church while holding deeply to her meaning as those called by God, and sent by Him to the very people Jesus came to. Debbie, who until recently pastored an inner city congregation in Los Angeles, helped to flesh out the love, risk, and vulnerability involved in journeying beside people who are seeking God, including the economically oppressed and the sexually broken.
This Summit reminded us that at the heart of the traditions to restore the people of Christ is an uncompromising attitude of following Him at the center and circumference of it all. In this we can honour the work of our fathers (and mothers!). But also enter the freedom of enabling our children to live their faith in their way, for their time.