Study Conference 2007- Culture, Gospel and Church

Study Conference & Annual General Meeting
of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches

Oct 11–13, 2007
Bakerview MB Church
2285 Clearbrook Rd, Abbotsford, BC

Keynote speaker: George Hunsberger

Culture? Is it a gift of God, or a tool of Satan? Is it a blessing, a curse or both? Is culture to be shunned or embraced, feared or domesticated, protected or crushed? Is it a power that “simply is” that is subservient to Christ’s supremacy and God’s providential sovereignty? Has not God always disclosed his kingdom in and through culture? Can Mennonite Brethren claim to have a workable theology of culture? Will our participation in the mission of God be hampered or enhanced by our predisposition towards culture?

These and other questions will be addressed at the Study Conference on Culture, Gospel and Church sponsored by the Canadian Board of Faith and Life to be held October 11–13th, 2007 at the Bakerview MB Church in Abbotsford. Come and participate in the Spirit so that we may think and act Christianly about the Gospel and Church in this age.

Schedule

Thursday, October 11, 2007
3:00 pm  Registration opens
7:00 pm  Session 1: “Biblical Warrant for Evangelism” by  George Hunsberger
8:30 pm  Bible study – small table groups

Friday, October 12, 2007
8:30 am  Devotions and prayer
9:00 am  Session 2: “The MB Story and How We Have Related with Culture” by Bruce Guenther
10:40 am Break
11:00 am Session 3: “Missional Voice and Posture” by George Hunsberger
12:15 pm Lunch
1:30 pm Workshop session 1
2:45 pm Break
3:15 pm Workshop session 2
5:00 pm Supper
6:30 pm Session 4: “True to the Truth” by George Hunsberger

Saturday, October 13, 2007
8:00 am Breakfast
8:30 am Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches
9:30 am Focus on leadership and ministry implication
10:30 am Break
11:00 am Ask and answer: What has God been saying to us? What does he want? What trajectories does our discussion place us in? How can we come away with an incarnational, Anabaptist approach in our situation? “Set it on the ground.”

Biographies

Bruce Guenther currently serves as a faculty member at MBBS (Langley), as part of the ACTS consortium at Trinity Western University. He has a B.A. from Providence College, an M.C.S. from Regent College, and a Ph.D. from McGill University. As a professor, Bruce strives for excellence both as a scholar within the disciplines of history and cultural studies, and as a capable communicator and guide to learning in the classroom. He has a passion for helping students to think critically about their faith experience without becoming cynical, and to recognize the symbolic relationship in the life of the church between cultural/human forces and the work of the Holy Spirit. In addition to teaching a variety of church history courses, he teaches a course called “Christianity and Culture”, which is designed to help students “read” culture. Bruce and his wife, Lois have three children: Cameron, Karyn and Kyle.
George Hunsberger

George Hunsberger is currently Professor of Congregational Mission at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. His life’s work has been devoted to equipping North American churches to effectively participate in the encounter of the gospel with Western culture. He has combined both his academic research with his rich variety of experience to help many congregations more effectively reach their contexts with the gospel.

Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), he has worked as a campus staff member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; a pastor in several congregations in Mississippi; a missionary team leader for Africa Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya; and a teacher at several schools including Princeton Theological Seminary and Regent College.

Dr. Hunsberger is also coordinator of the Gospel and Our Culture Network in North America. He has written extensively on the intersection of gospel and culture. Along with numerous articles, he is the author of Bearing the Witness of the Spirit: Lesslie Newbigin’s Theology of Cultural Plurality, co-author of Missional Church: A Theological Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, editor of The Church Between Gospel and Culture and co-editor of Christian Ethics in Ecumenical Context: Theology, Culture, and Politics in Dialogue.

Sessions & Workshops

The conference will feature three addresses by George Hunsberger and one address by Bruce Guenther. The four addresses are as follows:

  • Session 1 Biblical Warrant for Evangelism George Hunsberger
  • Session 2 The MB Story and How We Have Related with Culture Bruce Guenther
  • Session 3 Missional Voice and Posture George Hunsberger
  • Session 4 True to the Truth George Hunsberger

Workshop session 1

1,  Christ and Culture: An Anabaptist Response to the Missional Church and the GOCN MovementPaul Doerksen, David Eagle
The Gospel and Our Culture Network has contributed a much-required critique of modern western culture that is believed to have diminished our understanding of gospel. Anabaptists have promoted a strong incarnational theology. Can these two voices in conversation deliver a workable theology of culture?

2.  Church and State: Politics & Christian Discipleship

Wayne Bremner, John Redekop
An Anabaptist perspective on Christian engagement with, and foray into the world of politics. This workshop will feature a critique of John Redekop’s recent book Politics Under God.

3.  East and West: The Practice of Being Good Neighbours
Gordon Nickel
Living out our conviction that Jesus Christ is God’s unique means of salvation among an ever-increasing presence of Eastern peoples who bring worldviews, culture and spiritual beliefs different than our own while demonstrating kindness and respect.

4.  Him and Her: A Christian Perspective on Interracial Marriage, Family and Relationships
David & Charlene Chow and Vidya & Gwen Narimalla
A Biblical view of marriage that enables families / parents / individuals to view marriage / dating relationships / friendships across cultures and across races as a developing norm of the ways things are increasingly going to become. Led by two couples in interracial marriages, this workshop will provoke discussion on the fears, challenges, as well as the joy and affirmation of friendship and love that transcends racial differences.

5.  Us and Them: Teaching Culture Responsibly – A View to the 1.5 Generation
Daryl Crocker, Mike Nishi
Children of recent immigrants grow up in a world that compels them to embrace two worldviews, two cultures, two different sets of values and beliefs that often provide unique social and spiritual challenges. Family dynamics, parent-child conflict, cultural confusion and spiritual searching are a daily reality for these youth and young adults. What does it take to reach this generation for Christ, and what lessons are learned for the rest of us?

Workshop session 2

1. North and South: American and Canadian Nationalism and Christian Spirituality
Mary Anne Isaak and Valerie Rempel
How does being Canadian or American affect how we understand culture, gospel and our view and practice of church. Are Christians on either side of the border comparatively different in type or merely degree? What, if any, are the advantages or disadvantages of being a Christian and a member of a national community?

2. Watching and Listening: Media and Gospel
David Balzer and Gordon Matties
We cannot help but live in a society informed and socially governed by popular media; whether that be television, computer, radio or print. These mediums of communication have a profound effect upon our worldview, our understanding of culture, gospel and church. There is much that is praiseworthy, and much that is damaging to Christ and his Kingdom. How can we measure the effects? What discernment can the church offer?

3. Individual and Community: A Global Teaching on Faith and the Nature of the Church
Bryan Born and Carlin Weinhauer
What might be the primary concern our global brothers and sisters in Christ have regarding the North American church? The answer is a profound lack of community and what they perceive to be a faith entrapped by individualism and a private piety. Participate in this discussion and recover a vision of community practiced by the church around the world.

4. Bonjour and Au Revoir: Gospel, Culture and Church in Quebec
Jean Yves Cossette and Eric Wingender
Anabaptist evangelical witness in Quebec has grown and matured through the process of discerning what to keep and what to discard in the gospel that it inherited from European and North American Christianity. As we pass the faith to others and the next generation what other presuppositions do we bundle along with the gospel?

5. Divided and Together: Intentionally Intercultural Churches – A Passing Fad or Sign of the Kingdom
Ken Peters
Churches in our larger cosmopolitan urban centres are becoming either increasingly intercultural or choosing to identify themselves as cultural, ethnic or lingual enclaves. What are the Biblical principles and values involved in choosing a congregational identity? How is the gospel advanced by each? What gospel is advanced by each?

Resources

View articles online
For those who wish to do some reading ahead of the conference, we have provided three articles that provide a deeper exploration of the themes and ideas that Dr. Hunsberger will be exploring in his three addresses.

  1. Hunsberger, George. Is There a Biblical Warrant for Evangelism? Interpretation: A Journal for Preachers and Teachers. 48.2 (Apr. 1994), p. 131–144.
  2. Hunsberger, George. The Missional Voice and Posture of Public Theologizing. Missiology: An International Review. vol. 34, no. 1 (Jan. 2004), p. 15–28.
  3.  Hunsberger, George. The Church in the Postmodern Transition in Foust, T., ed. A Scandalous Prophet: The Way of Mission After Newbigin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001, p. 95–106. (Reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. All rights reserved.)

Also available: