Having launched the SENT Missions Conference in 2019, the home missions’ committee of Classis B.C. South-East of the Christian Reformed Church did not want to lose momentum in 2020, so they took their emphasis on building missional DNA in local congregations and moved it online.
Missional DNA refers to the idea that mission is at the core of the local church and forms the building block upon which, and through which, all aspects of the local church are carried out. “We really felt the need to build up a missional DNA at the local church level,” said Jenna Fabiano, associate pastor at Willoughby CRC in Langley, B.C., and member of the classis home missions committee. (A classis is a regional group of Christian Reformed churches.) “The desire for missions needs to come from the local congregation; it cannot be led from the top down.”
Every Wednesday of November, a new video interview with a different speaker was posted to YouTube. The speakers included Albert Chu, lead pastor of The Tapestry, a Christian Reformed congregation in British Columbia with multiple locations; Aaron Baart, dean of chapel at Dordt University and co-founder of a church-planting ministry in Liberia, West Africa; Shaila Visser, national director of Alpha Canada, a ministry featuring the video-based course on Christianity designed for those outside of the church; and Jim Mullins, pastor and author. To date, the interviews have about 500 views each. They’re offered free to viewers, archived on the YouTube channel of Willoughby CRC. Speakers were paid by the conference organizers through the classis’ home missions budget.
Visser said she was excited to be invited because she is “committed to participating in introducing as many people as possible to the good news of Jesus Christ. This conference fell in my sweet spot, and I was thrilled to participate.”
The 2019 conference was attended by over 40 people from across the classis. It featured three speakers, all with the focus of building excitement and a yearning for missions at the local level. Fred Sutherland, a local mission leader with the CRC’s Resonate Global Mission, and a member of the classis home missions committee said this conference was the result of years of prayers and yearning for a shift in how Christians view missions. “We need to shift our focus and realize that while missions and outreach can and does happen on the other side of the world, it also needs to happen in our own backyard, and in our daily lives.”
There are no firm plans for a 2021 version of the conference, but Fabiano said, “The need for this type of event for equipping and engaging (church members) is huge and cannot be underestimated.” While the online format worked well during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers long for more interaction that only an in-person event can bring.