Envision Summit 2017
When I stumbled onto the Envision Summit website a few months ago, I immediately had a sense that I needed to go. Maybe it was the speaker line-up, maybe it was the topics that would be discussed, or maybe it was even the location, but I knew that I had to be involved.
Now I’m sitting in the airport on the journey back home, and my mind and heart are still being shaped and transformed by the experience of this week. I already know that as I continue to pray, journal, and talk about the summit experience, the things God has been doing in me over the last week will continue to lead me deeper into God’s presence and the fulfillment of my calling.
For the first four days we started the mornings with worship and then worked through Soul Care with Dr. Rob Reimer. After each teaching time (where we focused on identity, sin & repentance, forgiveness, and our relationship with God as our Father), we would break into our small groups to spend time discussing, processing, and praying for each other. In the afternoons we focused on important topics facing the church, beginning with racial reconciliation, and then gender and sexuality. Both times we took the following afternoon for more processing and discussion time in our small groups and in the larger group. Then on Thursday evening we had more worship and Dr. John Stumbo, President of the American C&MA, spoke to us about Jesus being our shepherd that restores us and calls us to the path of righteousness. Finally we wrapped up on Friday with a challenging talk about what to do next with our Summit experience.
The real gem of the Summit experience was the time we spent in our small groups. I had only made the acquaintance of two of my small group members before the summit, but at the end of this week I call those 6 people among my closest friends and partners for the mission of God. We wrestled through difficult topics together, we cried together, we spoke words of wisdom and discernment to each other, we laughed, and we prayed together.
During this week God used the people around me to speak some profound truth and direction into my life that will shape my ministry over the months and years ahead. For that I am incredibly grateful to the C&MA for creating this resource called Envision, and for the people who came together.
But from all of my Envision experience, there’s two things that stand out the most that I want to share. The first is that it is possible for us to have healthy conversations about incredibly polarizing and difficult topics. We wrestled into heavy topics without shying away from being uncomfortable. We didn’t come to final conclusions on everything, but we walked away with a commitment to continue discussing and discerning God’s direction in these areas. We need to lean in to the difficult conversations that have come up—and are yet to arise—in our family of churches. We can’t let discomfort or fear make us shy away from or shut down the conversations that need to happen for us to remain faithful to the calling God has given us.
Secondly I felt my faith in our movement of churches being restored and renewed as I listened to the heartbeat of the other young influencers at the Envision Summit. I know that God is calling us to do great things for His Kingdom as the Christian and Missionary Alliance both in Canada and throughout the world. Our future is strong, and the caliber of the people God is raising up through our churches is awe inspiring. God is not done with us yet!
This week has been one of those events that will split my life into pre-summit and post-summit. I’m going to be wrestling and praying through what we talked about and experienced for the weeks and months ahead. I can’t wait for what God is going to continue to reveal to me because of this past week.
If you’re thinking that maybe the next Envision Summit is for you, then I want to urge you to go. If we want to be faithful to what God has called us to do, then one of the best things we can do is make sure we are caring for our own souls. I know first-hand the cost when we as leaders fail to do this. The goal God has for us is too important for us to neglect our own spiritual health and our relationship with God.
Lastly, I want to leave you with this thought: It is critical for us to be equipped for the bigger conversations happening in our world. Learn how to be a Christ-centered and gospel focused voice in those conversations. Be the voice that is filled with grace, love, and conviction as we venture into deeper topics together. The world desperately needs us to do this.
Brian McNarry serves on the editorial team at Bold Cup Of Coffee and is the Pastor of Grand Valley Community Church in Brandon Manitoba. He is married to Nikki and they have one daughter named Olivia.