Look back at Bruce Enns’ hockey coaching days and you’d find him on the ice. “I was a player-coach,” he says. “I was on the ice playing and coaching at the same time. You’re not just on the bench or in the stands. You’re actually in the game.”
Enns brings a similar leadership approach to his new role as general director of Multiply. With a passion for the local church and a history of investing in global partnerships, he seeks to help others join in kingdom work.
“I need to be a discipler as I call other people to disciple people,” he says. “When it comes to reaching the lost and multiplying—whether it’s in a small group setting, church setting, individual setting—that mindset and focus needs to be in my life as I lead an organization that encourages people to do that everywhere.”
A firm believer that God wastes nothing from the past, Enns traces God’s hand through leaps of faith from athletics to pastoral ministry to a call to lead the Mennonite Brethren mission agency in the U.S. and Canada.
Leaps of faith
Twice, Enns has felt a “restlessness of God” leading to career-changing decisions, most recently while serving as lead pastor of Forest Grove Community Church, a multisite church in Saskatoon, Sask. His resignation opened the door to an opportunity with Multiply, but this was not his first leap of faith.
Prior to discerning a call to pastoral ministry, Enns worked in athletics. He earned his bachelor’s degree in church ministry from Columbia Bible College (CBC) in Abbotsford, B.C., in 1989, later adding a degree in kinesiology from Trinity Western University and a master’s degree in sport and recreation management from the University of Saskatchewan.
Enns served as director of athletics and recreation and men’s hockey coach at CBC, and later moved his family to Calgary, where he taught at the University of Calgary and explored an opportunity with the Calgary Flames professional ice hockey team.
“I pursued so many things in that season in Calgary,” Enns says. “God just kept closing one door after another. It was a really discouraging time.”
Wrestling with next steps, Enns sought collective discernment.
“I trust the Spirit among us more than I trust the Spirit speaking in me,” he says. “I really value people, and that discernment led me to pastoral ministry.”
As people affirmed his pastoral gifting, Enns, in faith, accepted a position in young adult ministry at Forest Grove in 2000.
Four years later, Enns transitioned to lead pastor, a role he held for 17 years as the church grew from one site to three and established three global partnerships. He served as the preaching pastor at the Attridge site, championed Forest Grove’s collective vision and made numerous trips to Panama.
A new call
After sensing a release from this call to pastoral ministry, Enns endured a season of burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic, which quickened his departure from Forest Grove. Enns announced his resignation in July 2021, concluding his ministry there in October.
A conversation with a Multiply personnel committee member around Christmas 2021 led to a two-way discernment process with the board from January to April 2022. Multiply would let him work from Saskatoon, where he and his wife, Lisa, their four daughters and his wife’s mother reside, and Enns concluded the role would extend his passion for the local church.
“I’m not a missionary, but I’m a local church pastor, so if I can bring that passion and love to this context, then that makes sense,” he says. “That seemed to be what people were affirming in me.”
Multiply board chair Wendi Thiessen is excited for a seasoned MB leader like Enns to step into the role with firsthand experience supporting missions in the local church.
“Bruce believes in missions—and in the urgency of doing what we can to spread the gospel to people who do not know Jesus—and has a couple of decades of evidence to prove it,” Thiessen says. “Bruce has a pastor’s heart and desires to develop relationships with all of Multiply’s teams. He is also committed to partnering with our MB church family and has been focused on increasing his knowledge of our USMB churches.”
In addition to being involved globally while at Forest Grove, Enns’ 12 years of service on the Multiply board (then MB Mission) made him familiar with the organization. The role also provides an opportunity to apply his nonprofit governance training.
“God doesn’t waste anything from the past,” says Enns, who has also served as the Canadian conference moderator. “Everything that we’ve experienced and done in the past, he carries forward into the current context and uses it for his purposes and glory.”
Enns believed his gifting could assist Multiply after a tumultuous season involving a merger and consequent demerger with C2C Network, Randy Friesen’s transition out of the role of president and the appointment of a new Multiply board.
“I sensed the organization needed a season of more of a shepherd and a collaborator and somebody who could bring a little bit more structure to the good work that had already been started,” Enns says. “I’m a slow apostle. I always want to make sure that people don’t get left behind.”
Enns, who assumed the role of general director on May 16, recognizes both the pain and the positive from the past.
“Multiply, with all of its previous names, goes back over 120 years, so we’re just continuing the work,” he says. “It’s really like standing on the shoulders of giants. We’ve come through a rough season, there’s no doubt about it. We have to rebuild trust with churches and people.”
If that means listening to pain points, Enns is willing.
“Let’s not ignore the hard stories,” he says. “Let’s pay attention to them, let’s learn from them and then let’s carry on.”
A collective vision
More than his own vision, Enns desires to draw out a collective, God-given vision for Multiply. The demerger holds a lesson for the future.
“At the foundation of that demerger was the fact that Canada and the U.S. both said, ‘We don’t want Multiply to drive what we do in church planting. We have a vision for church planting. We want to do that in our context,’” Enns says, adding that he wants this reality to inform Multiply’s mission globally.
“We need to have the same posture,” he says. “Let’s not impose our vision on these contexts, but let’s help them draw their vision of what God has placed in their context and ask, ‘How can we partner together and do something great for the kingdom?’”
The board, with community input, is refining the way the organization describes its work.
“We send disciples on mission, we develop missional leaders and we facilitate mission partnerships,” Enns says. “That’s our contribution to work alongside churches in all contexts, including in Canada and the U.S.”
Enns is excited about connecting MB churches to global work, being an international family with ICOMB and learning from others.
“We have so much to learn from these other contexts,” Enns says. “It’s not about us bringing all of our wisdom and giftedness to another context. It’s about actually receiving and learning and being transformed as we humble ourselves to learn from people who are different than us.”
Whether leading a hockey team or a multisite church, Enns has sought to actively participate in the mission. His approach remains the same at Multiply as he encourages others to engage in global mission while remaining active in discipleship.
“I’ve been ‘in the game’ of being very involved on the frontlines of (global mission work),” Enns says. “My role now is to do some of that, but it’s more the coaching role of helping other people engage in it as well.”
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.