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Frequently asked questions (Video series)

by Bomba Ng'andu

A new video series that addresses frequently asked questions with
leadership of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.

Video transcript

Carson Samson: Hi, I’m Carson Samson of the Canadian Conference of M.B. Churches. We’re kicking off a new video series today that addresses frequently asked questions of leadership of CCMBC.

Carson Samson: Over the past few years. We have witnessed a significant scaling back of church resources and programs, such as Leaders to Learners, C2C, more recently, the MB. Herald. Some MB’s have even wondered if the National MB conference is being dissolved. Is there hope and a way forward, amid all these changes?

Bruce Enns: Well, we’ve heard those questions and some of those concerns obviously over time. I think there’s lots of hope, there’s lots of changes. There’s no doubt. We are a completely different family in terms of structure than we were a number of years ago. But the collaboration that we’re seeing now amongst our MB leaders, especially with the different entities, the provinces, Multiply, The Seminary, has never been stronger amongst the leadership. And I’ve heard that from many people, leadership who’ve been involved for 15, 20 years. And they’re saying that the collaboration that’s actually happened now is significant. And so our footprint of national in terms of structure is definitely shrunk. We’ve made it intentionally smaller because National now does not offer programming in the way it did in the past. It’s not, it’s no longer like a top down kind of delivery of programming, but we’re wanting to push the programming out to the provinces and to the churches. And so the way we are doing ministry is radically different than it was in the past. There’s no argument on that. But the reality is, is that communication and the way people interact with things or even gain information is radically changed in the last number of years for all kinds of things that we see in our society. And so our organizations have to change as well, too. And so this organization is changing. It’s evolving. But there’s all kinds of hope because God is still at work and doing some remarkable things amongst our churches and our people. And we’re really excited about what God has in store for us in the future.

Elton DaSilva: Yeah. I mean, I’ll add to that. A lot of the good ministry is happening at the church level or agency levels and sometimes all we need to do is champion that is highlight that and the collaborative model does that it brings these things to light.

Carson Samson: Thanks.

Video transcript

Carson Samson: Hi again. It’s Carson Samson from the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. Continuing on our video series of frequently asked questions to leadership of CCMBC.

The newly approved collaborative model went into effect January 1st, 2020. From your perspective, Elton, what do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities with implementing the new governance structure?

Elton DaSilva: I think there is a lot of work ahead of us. I think we need to begin to work on things like governance and bylaws. These are things that are necessary for that. I would say that the greatest difficulty is how big this country is and bringing people together from across the country to do this kind of work sometimes requires time. And so that would be probably one of the biggest things. The second, I would say is that there’s still some misunderstanding about the effectiveness of this collaborative model and how it will serve this family. And those questions will be best answered as we go along and seeing the results of it.

Bruce Enns: I think the other thing I would add that is going to be a challenge is even just the funding of it and moving from, you know, two stream funding of people giving to national and provincial to a one stream funding formula. I think for people to get around that and for even us in leadership to figure out how that’s going to work, in reality, it’s going to be challenging. And so we really want the churches to continue to give and engage in that way, because we really need that in order to make this work.

Elton DaSilva: And give at least at the same level they were giving before to both but unified to the provinces. Or if as we move forward, that they can also increase in their giving so more ministry can be done.

Bruce Enns: That would be great.

Video transcript

Carson Samson: Hello, it’s Carson Samson from the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. We’re continuing on our video series around frequently asked questions to CCMBC leadership.

Given all the changes and financial pressures on the Canadian Conference, do you anticipate a deficit for 2019 or will the books be balanced? When do you plan on releasing the financial statements?

Elton DaSilva: Yeah. So I’ll start with the last part of your question. We always wait for for the auditing of the finance to take place. And when that’s taken place, then we release the audit financial statements to anyone that wants to see it, particularly to churches  they can access it. So that is coming. As for the deficit, yes, we will end up 2019 on the deficit and it is 2019 was a difficult year as a year where, you know, many parts were still struggling. We are building a new Collaborative Model that required lots of moving parts and lots of travelling, lots of communications. And so those are the things that, you know, are part of this deficit that that that is coming.

Bruce Enns: Yeah. This this is the hardest question for me to answer, because it comes kind of at a gut level, especially as we’ve just been talking about and releasing the financial story and talking about keeping our promises and then the, you know, the end of year in a deficit. And it’s going to be a significant deficit. We know that. And so that’s really challenging. But as Elton said, it’s it’s hard when it’s been such a transitional year. You build a budget in a time when everything’s changing and sort of like building the plane in the air and you’re trying to figure out things as you go. And so we had more travel and things like that than anticipated, because we need to gather people for a number of issues that we’re dealing with through the year. And even I know Elton working with the National Ministry Team building this model together because we’re in a collaborative place now. We own things together. And so even some of the things that happen in Multiply. You know, we as a Canadian Conference needed to absorb some of those costs about that de-merger that we hadn’t anticipated. And so those were significant. And so we had a legal and moral obligation to engage in some of those things. And there’s been other factors as well, too, that we were obligated. And so we’re trying to clean those things up and figure out how to budget this better and well, but we know that we’ll have a deficit this year. So we’re continuing to ask people for patience, keep asking the hard questions and keep involved and engage in this and we’ll get it figured out and we’ll get it on the right path.

Elton DaSilva: And some of the other things that are relevant in this deficit is a reduced giving by churches to a national budget, which we are hoping that, as you know, a new vision unfolds, that this is going to take off again. We also had commitments to church plants. So these church planters were pastors. They are pastoring our churches. These salaries needed to be paid. So these are things thatare expenses that we incur in 2019 that all lead to a deficit.

Bruce Enns: Yeah. I would say one of the things about church giving that I was actually encouraged by is that yes, it was down and it wasn’t where had budgeted but it was still quite strong and that was encouraging to me because we knew that when we told this financial story we wanted to be as transparent as we could and tell the story. It was a risk. We said, you know, we just need to put it out there in front of people. And we didn’t know how people would respond. And so the fact that the giving was as strong as it was, I was really encouraged. And I want to say thank you to the churches for continuing that giving. That was a blessing. And even though it wasn’t where we had budgeted or hoped for, but it was it was close. And so we’re thankful for that, too.

Carson Samson: Thank you, gentlemen.

Video transcript

Carson Samson: Hello, I’m Carson Samson from the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. We’re continuing on our video series around frequently asked questions.

In April 2019, a commitment was made by the National Assembly executive to provide transparency and clarity around CCMBC’s recent turbulent history of investments, reserve spending and church planting.

The result was the release of Our Financial Story document at the October 2019 AGM. One of the critiques that I know you’ve heard is the contributing factor of strong leaders. How do you respond to that?

Bruce Enns: Yeah, that’s one of the critiques that we’ve heard this this phrase strong leaders, and I understand that in part if that was the only contributing factor, but then it would be a fair critique. But what’s not fair is to take one contributing factor and make it the contributing factor. And so what I would say to people is you have to look at that. In fact, I just re-read the financial story again just the other day. And even for me to reread it again was really helpful. You forget things, but when you have to read them together. And so they’re actually eight different contributing factors that are outlined in the document and they all speak into an effect and interact with each other. So if you pull out any one of those factors, that becomes problematic. To kind of focus on that, you could do with any of the others. You have to look at them together. And I’d also say that having strong leaders is not a negative. That’s actually a gift. And we are thankful for strong leaders. We’ve had strong leaders in our conference for decades, ever since this conference has formed. But that piece of strong leaders, actually, when you put it together with some of the other things that you see in the story, makes more sense as one of the contributing factors, not the only contributing factor.

Carson Samson: In our financial story, see CCMBC made 22 promises to churches. How do you intend to fulfill those promises?

Bruce Enns: Yeah. So what we’ve done since the fall and that that story was written is we have as an executive board, we’ve pulled out those 22 promises and we’ve put it into a document that we actually called, have called keeping our promises. And I write about that in the provincial report that will go out here in the months ahead. And in my moderator’s report and just the fact that we have taken out and separated out these promises, these commitments, we put them on another document. We’ve color coded them red for not started yet, a yellow for in progress and green for completed. And so now we are going to bring those up at each one of our National Assembly Executive meetings. We’re talking about them even tomorrow in our meetings here that we’re having as we record this and we’re looking at how this is moving, how are we accomplishing these things. And thankfully, we’re already seeing that some of them are turning from red to yellow and to green. And we’ll keep them in front of us until they’re all green. Or maybe they’re obsolete from one for one reason or another. But we’ll we’ll continue to have them in front of us. And we want our churches and our people to hold us accountable to those commitments that we’ve made.

Elton DaSilva: Well, know even for our staff team here, it is important to have those in front of us because then we can guide ourselves, too. Here are the promises are made. How are we accomplishing those promises?

Video transcript

Carson Samson: Hello, Carson Samson here from the Canadian Conference of MB Churches moving forward with our video series based on frequently asked questions to see CCMBC leadership.

One of the concerns that we’ve heard about the Colloborative Model has to do with the decision making process. Our previous governance allowed for an individual to vote. Now, the perception around our new governance model is that it does not and that there will be less engagement in the decision making process. Do you share these concerns Elton?

Elton DaSilva: I can see how it can be confusing, but the reality is that we are keeping the goal of having delegates vote for things so at the same level. In the past we had twenty five. One delegate for every twenty five member of a church, plus a pastoral vote as well. We are keeping at the same level. The only thing that changes and this is where we do these votings. In the past, the votings were done at a national AGM that it was the people from across the country would come to. Now it’s still going to be a national AGM, but now divided between the provinces. Every time a provincial conference is convened, there’ll be an element of that. There’ll be a national AGM. So the voices in this actually will increase. The other piece to the decision making is that we are, we have just, you know, created, approved and even released last December, a ten point two decision making process that actually involves all parts of us from the national ministry team, which are the senior leaders of provinces to the national faith and life team, to the executive board, national board, to the churches, to all parts of us are speaking into that decision making. So, yeah, I’m encouraged by having a more robust decision making process.

Bruce Enns: Yeah, I would agree. I think the the ten point decision making map and the longer timeline for that. Plus, as you said, Elton having the voting happen at the provincial conventions where people are typically more engaged, they understand the issues more. We, if you, we did the math. I remember I don’t memory exact numbers, but you know, if you have two or three hundred people, let’s say, voting on something in a national gathering, whereas if you go to the provincial assemblies, I think it’s something like seven or eight hundred people in total who are now voting on the same thing. So the number increases dramatically. And so we’re actually able to increase the number of involvement, people’s involvement in the voting. And also we’re slowing down and stretching out the timeline. So I think there’s lots of opportunity for people to engage.

Carson Samson: So what I’m hearing is where you may have two to three hundred gathered at a annual gathering. The representation of voters is broader and greater because they’re voting at the provincial level. But some are mourning the loss of that national gathering with bi annual Equip study conferences being our only national gathering. How do you address that concern and the feeling of loss there around building community as one?

Elton DaSilva: Yeah. So we want to continue together as a family. I think that there is incredible value for us to gather together nationally and come from all corners of this country to be able to to be together. You know, a good example for how much we like each other is that the the loudness of the place when whenever there’s a break in any kind of presentation. People are talking to each other. They are there. They are they truly like each other. So to continue to build those kinds of things are important. We just decided to have a annual equip event. One and one equip event would be around the same study conference, which is more theological, more of a look at our confession of faith and things that are the matters from a biblical theological, sometimes even academic side of things. And on the  following year, we’ll have more of an inspiration, a practical which we are thinking of calling equipped for mission. So we want to continue to build these opportunities for people to meet.as the larger church.

Bruce Enns: Yeah, I would agree that’s what I’m excited about, is that we actually don’t want to diminish the times that we gather. We want to increase it. We’re just shifting some of the voting in the more business decisions to different places and different models as we’ve already talked about, that engage number one, more people, but also, you know, some of the provincial executive boards and so on. But the gathering that happens of their family or MB family will still happen on an annual basis. But now around things like we talked about our home hermeneutic model at this last EQUIP conference, which is so good and other things like that that we can talk around about our discipleship strategies, how we engage mission, you know, locally, nationally, globally, those kinds of things. And so there’ll still be many opportunities to gather. It’ll just be for different reasons. And so the love for gathering will still be there and I trust will still be fulfilled for people.

Video transcript

Carson Samson: Hello, it’s Carson Samson with the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. We’re continuing on our video series around frequently asked questions to see CCMBC leadership.

What responsibilities do we all share as MB’s to strengthen the MB family?

Elton DaSilva: Oh, I really like that question. I think that question is. It’s a question that speaks about a we and speaks about what the Colloborative model is all about. The sense that it’s not one organization somewhere with a few people in a room trying to figure out what this is. But we all have skin in the game. We always you know, we’re all building this. I think one of the things that we need to do is, first of all, start leaning in is this thing of I want to be present. I want to hear. I want to have my voice heard. I want to lean into this. The second piece to it would be begin to work towards a more understood identity for us. What does it mean to be MB in Canada? What are the characteristics of our theology, our missiology, our  ecclesiology that that makes us who we are? You know, we don’t want to be. It’s not about uniqueness, but it’s about contribution. What’s our contribution to the large body of Christ? And so defining those things will be good. We have churches in different stages of relationships. There are some churches that away on the outskirts that the calls themselves MB’s, but they’re kind of far and relational band. I think one of the things is come closer, speak to what we’re becoming. Where are we going? Get involved. Get your people involved. Begin to volunteer. Tell the stories. Celebrate with us. Open doors for others. Begin to partner with other churches. There there are lots that we can do together that will actually strength this this community. I think we also need to realize that our story is bigger than Canada. There is a whole ICOMB side. There’s a whole global side of it. There’s a whole Multiply side of things that we need to actually pay attention to. That global family is also us. How do we connect to them? So lots to be done.

Bruce Enns: Yeah, I would I would ask people to be praying for are our national leaders and I think of the national ministry team, our provincial conference ministers. I think of Ingrid Reichard as she gives leadership to the NF National Faith and Life team. I think the leaders in the Seminary and Multiply both board and staff and ask you to pray for Elton. Elton’s got a big role here and he leads the national ministry team and is leading us and know rebuilding this vision and clearly articulating it. And Elton’s got a great responsibility and he’s doing a great job of leading. And so I just really ask people to pray and to lean in into these things, as Elton said, to get involved. I don’t think, you know, individuals need to engage in or understand everything that’s going on in all the different components of our family. But you need to engage, first of all, locally, like be involved in your local church and and have your local church engage provincially so that they know what’s going on. Go to the provincial gatherings and engage at that level. It’s really important. That’s where the decisions are happening. That’s where things are happening. So please be involved in that and then engage nationally and understand what’s going on within the national ministry team to some point and then also where you can to engage globally. Like Elton said, that we’re a part of something bigger and that’s just so exciting when God lifts our eyes to see what he’s doing in the kingdom work that he’s called us as MB’s into and it’s just really exciting the transformation in Christ that’s happening around the world and also right here in Canada. So pray and get involved as God leads you. That’s what I would encourage.

Carson Samson: Thanks, Bruce, and thanks, Elton.

Got a question?