A Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches news release reports that they are excited about a new resource available in Canada this fall for MB pastors and their churches.
MB pastors gain Canadian advantage
May 26, 2011
Winnipeg, Man.—Ministry Advantage (MA), a U.S.–based coaching program offered by the Canadian Conference of MB Churches (CCMBC) since 2009, will move forward with a distinctly Canadian MB coaching advantage in the fall of 2011. Sixteen MB lead pastors from across the country, along with Willy Reimer, executive director at CCMBC, gathered in Canmore, Alta., May 17–19, for an MA training event where five MB pastors (former MA participants) were equipped to become Canadian coaches for the upcoming programming year. “It has been our goal at CCMBC to train Canadian MB coaches for our unique context,” says Reimer.
The article further explains that this credentialing of Ministry Advantage coaches is an important advantage that will help their churches “fulfill God’s call to reach Canadians with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The question is, is this truly an advantage for churches as MB pastors believe? Or is it a disadvantage?
According to the article, Winkler MB Church pastor Philip Vallelly’s response is that “Ministry Advantage offered me a variety of resources to help create sustainability in order to advance God’s kingdom. Now as a coach, I have the privilege of sharing this resource with other kingdom builders.” Winkler MB Church was founded in the 1880’s. Pastor Ed Willms of Southridge Community Church senses that “God is leveraging the experiences and insights I received to encourage and inspire other pastors through MA coaching…The rich operating systems that MA offers are often not taught in seminary; they have benefitted me greatly.” Southridge Community Church’s affiliations include the Ontario and Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and the Willow Creek Association. Two key elements of the association with Willow Creek are the annual Leadership Summits and Leaders’ Village – a ‘relationally-based leadership development system.’
Willow Creek has also been a longstanding partner with Ministry Advantage, as are various other church marketing businesses. Other’s who partner with Ministry Advantage include:
• Evangelical Covenant
• Church of God
• Reformed Church of America, NW Region
• Bethel Seminary, Minnesota
• Mennonite Brethren, Canada
But is partnering with such a pro-Willow Creek organization like Ministry Advantage really to the advantage of Mennonite churches? Will this help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or will this just bring more change to the already compromised Mennonites?
The three-day Ministry Advantage event which sixteen MB lead pastors from across the country partook in was led by Russ Olmon, founder and president of both Ministry Advantage (www.ministryadvantage.org) and Church Solutions (www.churchsolutions.net). Olmon pastors the very trendy Lake Pointe Church which at first glance seems very vibrant, but a closer look shows cause for concern. For one, they use the 12 step programs, NA and AA (see here), none of which are Biblically based. It is also a church that, like so many tody, offers books (not books of the Bible) for ‘Bible studies’ (for example, the Women’s Summer 2011 Bible Studies are books: Laugh Again, by Chuck Swindoll, The Power of a Whisper, by Bill Hybels, Get Uncomfortable, by Todd Phillips, and Do You Think I’m Beautiful?, by Angela Thomas). Like all Willow Creek style seeker friendly churches, Lake Pointe Church also offers many courses and programs to meet the felt needs of the people and increase growth, such as parenting and leadership classes (i.e., Self Leadership, Leading From Your Strengths, etc.).
If this is what MB pastors want their churches to look like, they will see this MB partnership with these programs and self help church growth solutions as an advantage. But in God’s eyes, wouldn’t it be more of an advantage for church leaders to follow the biblical model and devote themselves to prayer and to the Word of God? (Acts 6:4) And weren’t the Mennonite Brethren on another track just a short time ago when the MB Herald reported that they wanted to go back to the early church model? (See Regenerate 2101.)
Which is it going to be – the early contemplative monastic church model, or the post modern church growth methods? There seems to be confusion in the Mennonite camp, but this is what typically happens when Christians stray away from the Bible and take their eyes off Jesus. They begin to look to man – in this case in the form of Change Agents, Leadership Summits, Leaders’ Villages, and Coaching programs – to create their own sustainability to advance and build God’s kingdom, instead of letting God be their sustenance and trusting in Him to build His church and His Kingdom, as the Bible teaches. Overnight, it seems, their churches become relationally based instead of Bible based.
Mennonites can only wonder what would happen if these MB pastors, instead of availing themselves to these man made methods, would dedicate themselves to prayer and to the Word of God. At this rate, it looks like they may never find out.
Twelve-Step Recovery Groups and the Christian
Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounders Were Not Christians
Willow Creek and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality will join forces to promote Contemplative Prayer
Contemplative Emphasis Continues at Willow Creek … Stronger Than Ever
The U.N. Plan for Your “Sustainable” Community
NOTE: The wife of Willow Creek’s pastor Bill Hybels, Lynne Hybels, has recently joined Obama’s anti-Israel campaign.