Learning, supporting each other as we plant new churches
By Randy Friesen
During a “DNA Exchange” trip to northern Thailand with a number of church planters from across North America, we were joined by church planting leaders from that region. Many of these leaders have planted multiple churches while suffering for the gospel.
This region of Thailand is known as the “Golden Triangle,” an infamous drug smuggling region.
In a time of intercession, with our arms stretched toward the neighboring countries of Laos, Burma, China, Cambodia and Vietnam, we were crying out to God for his inheritance in those nations. Across the Mekong River was a church that had recently been burned to the ground by local authorities. This church is a member of the Khmu Mission Conference, the most recent addition to our International Community of Mennonite Brethren family. Leaning into their mission vision that day became our mission vision.
Phone Keo, a former church planter of a Southeast Asian congregation at Butler MB Church in Fresno, Calif., is the apostolic leader of the Khmu Mission Conference. Phone Keo’s vision to reach his own people in Fresno always included reaching his people in Southeast Asia. How many more Phone Keos are there in networks?
Local, national and global missions have never been more interconnected than they are today. We have the opportunity as never before to both learn from each other and support one another in living out Christ’s promise and commands in Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20.
MB Mission is currently discerning a merger offer from C2C, the national church planting ministry of the Canadian MB Conference. Responding positively to this invitation would mean MB Mission is directly involved in both global and North American church planting. Is this an opportunity to also invest in church planting alongside the churches of our U.S. Conference?
In discerning this invitation we are asking the following questions: What would it look like if the best learnings of our overseas missions efforts and fruitfulness were combined with the best learnings of our domestic church planting initiatives in a truly global church planting network? What if MB church planters around the world shared resources and best practices and defined mission as local, national and global? What would it look like if we functioned collectively as a mission that did church, rather than a church that did mission? What if Acts 1:8 described our collective mission work together—no more organizational silos. What if the mission of the King was our primary mission?
We’ve heard the call for renewal and revitalization within our churches in North America and have been engaged in sharing our missional DNA as we’ve partnered effectively with denominational ministries over the past season. Our sense is that there is a call to an even greater level of collaborative and organizational unity as we seek to multiply healthy disciples and missional leaders together.
MB Mission’s heart is to fully engage the Acts 1:8 synergy of mission (local, national and global) and to reinforce this DNA within our churches here in North America and around the world. If we expand mission to include church planting here in North America, we could embrace mission and church planting that is truly borderless and is focused on mission to the least reached globally as well as within our borders. There is something beautiful about brothers and sisters from around the globe living on mission together and seeking the growth of God’s kingdom together. MB Mission is uniquely positioned to develop and strengthen these relationships.
Our next generation is much more captivated by mission than resourcing denominational structures. However, we need both! By refocusing and strengthening our mission DNA and positioning mission as local, national and global—from everywhere to everywhere, as the center of why our family of churches exists—we believe we are in step with where the Lord is leading us together as an MB family.
Randy Friesen is the general director of MB Mission, the global mission agency of the Mennonite Brethren churches in North America.
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