What do the numbers one, 350,000, and 1,500 have in common?
These are figures I’ve been pondering ever since our General Executive met last November. The women and men on our General Executive are dedicated leaders who are strongly motivated to see us fulfil our mission: “To glorify God by making disciples everywhere by proclaiming and practising the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” In those meetings we discussed the spiritual, theological and missional vitality of our family of churches and ministries.
From that prayerful conversation emerged a vision and a shared initiative that we are trusting in God for as we move toward the year 2020. The General Executive minute reads: With a shared vision for church revitalization and multiplication we are believing God for 350,000 Christ followers (1% of Canadians) within our Canadian churches in the year 2020. We are also calling all of our healthy churches to reproduce themselves within Canada in the next seven years by planting, partnering and/or providing for a new disciple-making community so that we will have 1,500 disciple-making communities in 2020.
This 2020 initiative of one per cent of the Canadian population (350,000 people) and 1,500 churches is rooted in two things. First, our conversation during those meetings led to a healthy dissatisfaction with the current overall state of our Fellowship’s discipleship and church/ministry planting efforts. Second, it stirred a deep appreciation for the missional passion we see in many of our individual churches and people.
Our General Executive reviewed research from the years 2008 through 2012 documenting that 81 churches had closed, merged or disaffiliated over that period. In that same time period there were 104 new church plants, satellites or other missional initiatives. Overall that left us with a slight decline in affiliated assemblies but an incremental increase in our churches, satellites, ministry campuses and missional initiatives.
In light of these facts and in recognition of the missional passion evident in many of our churches, our national leadership was firm in its desire to see a renewed season of church revitalization and multiplication. Think of it—one per cent of Canadians (350,000 people) serving Christ within 1,500 Pentecostal disciple-making communities in 2020.
What does that require of us?
Our discussion led us to recognize that spiritual and theological vitality are essential in order to be effective in our mission, whether here in Canada or globally. We need leaders and congregational members who are intimate with God through prayer and Scripture engagement; men and women empowered by the Spirit who lead generous, just lives and who share Jesus every day in word and deed.
General Conference 2014 will be held April 28-May 1 in one of Canada’s most vibrant cities, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our theme will be “Every Day, in Every Way.” Throughout the conference we will explore this theme in a practical manner by looking at topics such as:
- Leaders and churches who are intimate with God.
- Scriptural and theological engagement for effective discipleship.
- Practices and attitudes that create a culture of generosity.
- Leaders and churches who share Jesus in word and deed.
Our keynote speakers will be Ken Shigematsu, Gary and Marilyn Skinner, Alton Garrison and Wilfredo De Jesús. They will be speaking on the following topics: “God in My Everything”; “Transforming Lives & A Nation”; “Spirit-empowered Discipleship Today”; “Impacting Your Community”; and “Living a Sacrificial Life.” We will experience the Spirit’s work in our lives through worship and will close our conference with a regional worship celebration led by musical guests Leeland and Unhindered.
When we leave Saskatoon, we will be on a shared path toward fulfilling our mission through “Initiative 2020.” To follow up, we will be hosting two complementary tracks of conversations across Canada with pastors and congregational leaders. The first one, in the fall of 2014, will focus on “Spiritual and Theological Vitality.” The second one, in the spring of 2015, will focus on “Missional Vitality: locally, nationally and internationally.”
The spiritual/theological conversation will be guided by our 2014 leadership gift book on “Principle-based Leadership” and will address the spiritual well-being of those leading our churches and ministries. Together we will consider the New Testament teaching on law and grace, spiritual formation and Spirit empowerment. We want to theologically engage our PAOC Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths in a fresh way.
The missional conversation will focus on a whole new season of church revitalization and multiplication—locally, nationally and internationally. A cross-Canada church multiplication network will be presented to stimulate co-operation and funding for new disciple-making communities. We are asking the Lord for wisdom and insight so that, together, we may see one per cent of all Canadians (350,000) serving Christ within 1,500 Pentecostal disciple-making communities in 2020. We also believe God for an ever-expanding harvest internationally as well and will discuss how to see that accomplished together.
Every day in every way, we are committed to pray, read, give and share. We want Jesus to be seen in us so that thousands of Canadians will be transformed by His good news and join us in an “every day” relationship with God and His family.
Our Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Pentecostal family in Canada. He is calling us into a fresh intimacy with You and Your Word so that, as Jesus promised, life will flow from us to many others in Canada and around the world. We will not settle for less. For your glory we pray. Amen.
- David Wells, General Superintendent
This article appeared in the March/April 2014 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Visit www.testimonymag.ca.