Earlier this month, Canada marked an incredible milestone.
“Happy Canada Day!,” and “#Canada150!”and many other celebratory proclamations for our nation’s big birthday could be heard or seen in almost every medium.
This milestone was indeed cause for celebration for many across the country, and for others, like Indigenous peoples and social activists, it was an opportunity for a heightened call to action on human rights, dignity, and social justice.
For me, the moment also brought an opportunity to reflect on our denomination and the fact that – at 130 years old – we’re not too far behind Canada in crossing such a monumental milestone. So what will the next 150 years – or even the next 10 or 20 look like for us and the evangelical movement in Canada? What do we want those decades to be? What new heights is God calling us to in those short years ahead?
A few things occurred to me as I reflected on these questions.
Less Isolation and More Collaboration
What I believe will happen for us, in terms of evangelicalism in Canada, is a lot less isolation and far more collaboration. By that I mean that denomination flags will increasingly become lowered, and the Christ-flag and evidence of His Kingdom in our midst, will become more central to evangelicalism in Canada.
We know that in many ways the evangelical movement and voice in Canada is marginalized. We are not a voice that people seek. Often, we are a voice that people want to silence.
But, we shouldn’t let that frustrate us – it can pull us together and be our strength. Even while we are marginalized there is space and opportunity for evangelicals to become a more united and more effective voice in our nation and across the world. Almost every great movement in humanity has come from the margins. God often uses seemingly foolish things to confound the wise. I think our collective passion to share the gospel will force us out of isolation, and into what I call kingdom collaboration.
No Time Like the Present for the Gospel
You’ve heard me say this before, but it bears repeating. God. Is. Moving. There are places and spaces that were once inaccessible to the gospel that are now becoming more accessible. As one example of this, I think of the work we are doing together with our Yazidi brothers and sisters in Northern Iraq, a people group forced out of their original villages by ISIS.
Ironically – and a stunning testimony to how God can move even in the most horrible of circumstances – this brutal upheaval of a group of people has brought them to places where they have the opportunity to hear and share the gospel.
Situations that are opening the door to the gospel are happening all over the world – every day. It’s an incredible moment of harvest for the kingdom of God. And this is precisely why organizations like ours cannot be asleep at the wheel.
A Wake-Up Call to Get Out of the Machine
Whoa – asleep at the wheel? By that I mean that right now there is an opportunity for there to be a great awakening in evangelicalism in North America and within our own denomination.
The sad reality is that after 130 years we’ve become, in many ways, entrenched in running the machinery we’ve created and have lost the heart of why we exist.
As a decades-old denomination we now have a lot more structure, more offices, and more administration. Don’t get me wrong. We need these things to operate and they are important. But we need to recognize the ways these things can hinder or bloat our movement, when what we really need at this moment in time is to be agile and ready to respond to the urgent and desperate needs of the humanity we live in.
As followers of Christ, we exist to be His hands and feet in a broken world and for people and nations who don’t yet know Him. We do not exist for own members and to build a structure or institution.
Risk is a Given, Not an Optional
Just because more places are becoming more accessible to the gospel, doesn’t mean they are safe.
One of the hard truths of our work is that it comes with risk. Our international workers go to places that are accessible but also dangerous. I think about this every time I hug a young couple or family about to head to a region where it is dangerous to speak the name of Jesus. There is inherent risk to their work and there is no sugar-coating this.
And yet the amazing thing is we can’t keep up with the number of people that just keep coming to us and stepping up to the call, even knowing the risk involved. People from all walks of life are coming – young, middle-aged, and retired. They want their lives to count for eternity and are not content with the status quo. “Send us to where the gospel has never been preached,” they tell us. “Where the name of Jesus has never, ever been heard.”
These are the great challenges and heights I see for us in years ahead. Let’s seize the moment and honour the role God has for us to play in seeing every tribe, every tongue, and every nation gathered around the throne of the King.
Dave Hearn is the President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. He has held C&MA leadership positions at local church and District levels. He served as District Superintendent for the Canadian Pacific District from 2005 to July 2012. He loves spending time with his family, and he’s passionate about living on mission fearlessly.