A couple of weekends ago, Mennonite Brethren churches gathered together for the Awake conference in Winnipeg. One of the awesome things about this conference is that it was hosted by MB Mission, the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, and C2C Network. These three organizations have come together along with the local church to put on what was an amazing weekend of inspiring the church into worship, prayer, and local mission.
I believe that this event was a taste of what God is doing on a grand scale in our city and nation right now. In the past year I have been witnessing walls between churches and denominations break down. This is really exciting! I believe that this transformation will open up all kinds of doors for God to work through the Body of Christ.
I remember growing up and going to youth group at my church. I also remember the rivalries that seemed to exist between churches. Friends of mine would claim that their youth group was better than mine, and I would try to one-up them with some sort of cool thing that I got to do on Tuesday nights at church. Where did this attitude come from? I think it came from a lack of understanding that God was at work in my friend’s churches as well. Because I wasn’t asking questions about how God is at work, I missed out on a mutual exchange.
“Exchange,” is a big word in today’s culture. Social media has become a normal way of communicating, and having a Facebook account is sometimes more common than owning a cell phone. The neat thing about social networks like this is that it creates an exchange of information. People find out what you are up to and vice versa. The information is there for viewing and sometimes it is intriguing.
Two years ago, some friends and I wanted to start a worship night for young adults. We saw a need for something like this in our city and so we started to worship every second month. We called these evenings Bread We Break. For the first event we were expecting to worship with thirty good friends- that would have been great. Instead, one hundred and fifty people showed up to worship with us. After two years, the event has grown to six hundred young adults representing about one hundred different churches! It’s at these events that we have experienced a significant exchange across denominations through coming together to worship the same God. We have heard incredible testimonies from local churches where God is at work. Suddenly, instead of churches being known by what street they are on or what kind of music they have, we got to know churches by how God is at work among them.
Recently, God has been teaching me that we need each other as members of the Body of Christ. Where previously I viewed other denominations or churches with the attitude, “You have it wrong and we have it right,” I now see the need for an exchange. Having conversations with friends who have slightly different theology or beliefs than me has challenged me to take a critical look at what I believe. These conversations aren’t always easy- they can be uncomfortable, yet are absolutely necessary. Exchange is extremely important as the Church learns what it means to be different parts that need to function together to further the kingdom of God here on earth.
R. T. Kendall, an author and theologian, writes on the challenge of bringing drastically different parts of the church together. He says, “We believe that the need of the hour is not one or the other – but both! It is our view that this simultaneous combination will result in spontaneous combustion! And then, but almost certainly only then, will the world be shaken once again by the message of the church.”
May we come see this beautiful exchange of the Church in our city and world as the kingdom of God moves forward with great force.