A conference without keynote speakers or workshop presenters is hard to imagine, isn’t it? But this is the plan for the Christian Reformed Church’s Canadian Gathering 2019 to be held at King’s University in Edmonton, May 24-26. In fact, fellow members of the planning team would be upset with me for even mentioning the word “conference.” From the very beginning stages, team members decided to avoid inviting “experts” to share insights or the results of their academic endeavors. Instead, the planning team believes that the Spirit will and does speak through “ordinary” church members, and they’re organizing the event so that participants may share what he might be revealing to them.
About 150 members of Christian Reformed churches (CRC) from all classes in Canada will participate in seeking guidance into a future of service and participation in an increasingly secularized society. “Gatherers” have been encouraged to spend time in prayer, fasting and meditation in preparation for times of intense discussion and listening. Along with key verses in Scripture, several challenging books and films have been recommended as groundwork for engagement with each other.
Under the theme “From Emptiness to Fullness,” gatherers are being asked to reflect on where the church as a denomination as well as individual congregations may be experiencing emptiness. Are there areas where emptying may be needed, so that the Spirit is able to refresh local, regional and national ministries? Gatherers have been selected by Canadian CRC classes because they have a desire to see the church flourish as salt and light. No special training is needed. Just a willingness to be open to hearing from each other and a desire to share their findings and conclusions with churches in their own classes.
LISTENING TO THE SPIRIT
Each classis has agreed to set aside time at Fall 2019 meetings to hear from their “delegates,” so that the conversation begun at the Gathering may be carried forward and impact local ministries. Every local church is uniquely equipped by God to carry out his ministry in its own neighbourhood using the gifts and abilities God has placed within the community. Sometimes the desire might be there without knowledge of how to implement an idea. Conversations with other believers about God’s work in another context may encourage and equip others to try new avenues of mission.
Over the next month, the Gathering 2019 planning team covets your prayers for everyone travelling to Edmonton for the May long weekend to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Join the prayer team that will be constantly in prayer for Gathering 2019 before, during and after. Pray for inspiration for Jeremy Benjamin and the team of musicians being created to surround the event with worship through songs and music. May God be glorified and his will discerned.