it’s beyond me

I just came away from five days with spent with pastors across British Columbia as a part of our annual provincial Mennonite Brethren convention and leaders retreat.

As an individual Christian and a participant in a local church, I often find myself wondering this: what does my denomination and what do these annual gatherings have to do with my local church? What relevance does a denomination have for, say, a stay-at-home-parent? Or a lawyer? Or a carpenter? Essentially, what do denominations have to do with following Jesus in everyday life?

And at times, due to misperception, misinformation, or unhealthy relationships (among other things) the value of a denomination can be questioned. The value of a denomination, you ask? “It’s beyond me” is a common, and at times valid, response. We have no clue.

A quick look in my blog archives and I realize these are questions I've asked before after attending denominational gatherings. A year ago I concluded, “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!

This week simply confirmed this conclusion.

This week I heard many more stories. Stories of hope. Stories of transformation. Stories of loss and loneliness. Stories of conflict. Stories of humor. Stories of death. Stories of life.

In these stories I’ve been reminded that my life and my church are part of something beyond ourselves. The bible is a story of God’s mission of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21). History continues to tells this story of God in which we are participants. The global church - “the holy catholic church” (Apostles Creed) - continues to enact this story. This week I was reminded, through my denomination, that God’s story truly is beyond me. And for this larger community and larger story, I’m truly grateful.

2 comments:

R. Hiebert said...

My sincere hope is that David's initial perspective and play on words did not distract others from the convention and retreat experience. It may be redundant to say this as I do not think David had this in mind, and I'm sure he is aware of it, but there is a legal aspect and requirement to doing a convention. If one has congregational connections, one hears about staff and leadership development conferences that are part of staff & leaders to attend, Church Planting etc.
As time and resources permit I wholeheartedly recommend church councils support delegates participating in the annual convention and Pastors & Spouses Retreat.

David Warkentin said...

Good reminder R. Hiebert, thanks.

Too often there is a perception (perhaps often from younger generations) that denominational conventions are all about legal responsibility or political process. And when that's the starting point, it's very difficult to inspire today's congregations to support these events as you rightfully encourage. The many stories from last week were a huge step in the right direction.

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