Orginally published on Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 3:35 AM
by Earl Creps
A while back at a conference I met my very first Canadian missionary to the United States. To be honest it had not occurred to me until that very moment that such a thing was possible, any more than an American missionary being stationed in Montreal. Aren’t both of us supposed to be “sending” nations? After I recovering from the shock, I muttered something like, “Please go home and round up about 1000 more people like yourself and send them. We’re in trouble down here.”
I still believe that. The American church is desperately in need of help if we are going to have any reasonable chance to do mission among Pre, Post, and Semi Christians in emerging culture. Some of that assistance might just come from north of the border. Here’s why:
1. Canada is over the horizon. If Europe is roughly 50 years ahead of us in terms of evolving into a post-whatever society, Canada might be more like 20-30 years. Moreover, Canadians were dealing with multiculturalism long before those of us who live stateside ever heard the word. If these very rough estimates are anything close to correct, that means…
2. Canadians get it. I’m generalizing on a breathtaking scale here, but my Canadian friends seem to have a perspective, a sense of humor, and a critique of the US that feels like the future to me. I do seminars aimed at helping Americans get a sense of where mission in emerging culture is headed. But I’m not sure those would have an audience if they were held in Toronto. Why tell fish about water? Which means that…
3. Canadians should advise American churches. Last week I worshipped with a group of American college students being led by a Canadian who served full time as a staff pastor in a local congregation. It’s my dream scenario. Other examples would include Dave MacDonald, lead pastor at West Winds Church in Michigan, or Sean Kelly who trains interns for the Convoy of Hope compassion ministry. When I talk to these friends, it feels like I’m in dialogue with tomorrow. They know things naturally that Americans have to be taught. Which means that…
4. The American church has an opportunity to humble itself. American leaders are barely able to accept the help of missionaries and church planters from the southern hemisphere. Imagine the sanctifying power of having to admit that the help we need has been just across the border to the north all this time? That by itself might save us. At the very least, those of us born in the USA would have a chance to reorient out leadership toward the future rather than spending whole careers exhausting ourselves trying to get ahead of something called “the curve.”
Could the Canadians light the fuse on the next great awakening? I don’t know. But I think we should find out.
About the Author: Earl Creps has spent several years visiting congregations that are attempting to engage emerging culture. He directs doctoral studies for the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri (http://www.agts.edu). Earl and his wife Janet have pastored three churches, one Boomer, one Builder, and one GenX. He speaks, trains, and consults with ministries around the country. Earl’s book, Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders, was published by Jossey-Bass/Leadership Network in 2006. Connect with Earl at http://www.earlcreps.com .
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