by Terry M. Smith
We need more churches in Canada of various cultures and languages. Overall, our EMC membership numbers have been flat since 2000, according to general secretary Tim Dyck. In response, how creative will we be?
Certainly the EMC has the background, skill, and responsibility to develop churches in Dutch-German circles. The movement of DG Mennonites from other countries presents this opportunity. Most recently, Living Faith Fellowship (Two Hills, Alta.) has started.
Further, churches have been developed within Hispanic circles. The latest activity: Emanuel (Calgary) is working within Airdrie, Alta.
At the same time, despite our Western Gospel Mission history, church planting has slowed among some cultural and language groups. Still, some plants have happened. In communities near Winnipeg, Rosenort Fellowship planted Oak Bluff Bible Church and Rosenort EMC is now reaching out to Ste. Agathe.
Why plant churches? They show our gratitude for Christ’s grace in our lives, reveal obedience to the Great Commission, display love for our neighbour, and reflect the conviction that Christ is drawing people to himself—so says George G. Hunter, an evangelism staff person with the United Methodists.
Our motivation is not numbers in themselves. People need the good news in Jesus. That’s what the numbers signify: more people coming to faith in Christ to serve Him. The Great Commission is a holistic calling: “Teach them to obey everything I have commanded” (Matt. 28:20).
For denominations to grow, Donald McGavran says we need to be creative. He counsels us to look carefully at our resources (there is more money out there, he says), even our self-image and liturgical style.
Source: D. McGavran and G. G. Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies That Work (Abingdon, 1980). Out of print.