This past weekend I was in Kelowna attending the BC Mennonite Brethren annual convention. It’s the one time a year where churches across the province gather to process our denominational business as a group. You may be thinking: BORING!!!

I actually look forward to these events. It’s a family gathering of sorts as I get to connect with friends from across the region and hear stories of God’s work beyond my little realm of experience. And hey, who doesn’t like a good road trip! I’ll admit, my enjoyment is mostly selfish.

I still wonder, however, as we gather to do our “business,” are denominations really that important? Is what my church does in Port Coquitlam related to what others are doing in Prince George? Or Kelowna? Or Abbotsford? Is committing part of our annual budget to a provincial conference worth it - what’s the pay-off? How does a provincial leadership team really impact our little church? Does anyone beyond a few old-timers and pastors really care? Do you care?

It’s easy to get cynical about denominations if we think of them mainly as centralized power and control - they tell us what to do and what to believe. Our denomination has several important programs that most local churches would have trouble pulling off. Summer camps, Columbia Bible College, leadership development, and church planting are all large-scale projects requiring specific leadership and resources. My church can’t do all that. But still, aren't these just a bunch of programs removed from the local church? Wouldn't we be better off investing our time and resources locally? It’s easy, you see, to remain cynical.

Which is why i think we need to hear the stories beyond the programs. During this weekend's reports we heard several moving stories. An autistic boy’s realization of God’s love became a face for summer camps. The journey of faith for a wealthy immigrant brought to life the challenges of church planting in Vancouver. Story after story. God’s story extending beyond me. Beyond my church. There are stories all around us. Stories behind the programs.

So, rather than see denominations as power and programs this weekend helped me see them as an extension of God’s story of transformation in the world. A story worth telling, one denomination at a time!


Post a Comment