A church of surprises

From Our Leaders

June 28, 2024 | News | Volume 28 Issue 9
Len Rempel |
Photo: Jakob Owens/UNSPLASH

What lies ahead? As I write this reflection, I have just completed my first week as executive minister of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan. Stepping into this role, I ask myself, “What does the future hold, and am I equipped to handle it?”


We are in a time of transition—not just MC Sask but the broader church as well. The church today faces various challenges and many questions about its future. As I prepared for my first days and weeks in the role of executive minister, I reflected on what the future might bring. In some ways it would be easy to throw up my arms in despair and prepare for the demise of the church, but that’s not what I am feeling. I am excited about the church. I know it is changing but I choose to embrace that reality.


When Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, he described the work of the Spirit as a wind blowing “where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8). The Spirit of God can be unpredictable and she can surprise us. The fact that I am now executive minister of MC Sask is proof of that. This is not something I anticipated three years ago when we moved west.


At our MC Sask Annual Delegate Session earlier this spring, I heard stories of the Spirit’s movement within the church here in Saskatchewan. There is one small rural congregation that has been serving the community without a pastor for some time and is experiencing a vibrancy that is drawing in participants from other denominations whose own congregations have closed. There is a house church which meets on Tuesday evenings in person and online. They connect with participants from outside Saskatchewan and outside Canada.


These stories don’t sound like the church of my childhood, with people filling the choir benches at the front and multiple Sunday school classes for each age group, but it is part of the church today. The church is changing, and the Spirit is doing surprising things.


I have questions and some concerns as I move into my new role, but there is one thing that I am confident about: the church will continue, in some form, and God’s Spirit will continue to lead us and surprise us.


This isn’t a hope built on some naïve sense that the church couldn’t possibly end. But for the church to move forward we need to recognize that the institutional church has challenges that need to be addressed. We need to embrace where we are today and open ourselves to the movement of God’s Spirit.


As I work together with the MC Sask team and congregational leaders, I pray I can be sensitive to the movement of the Spirit and that I can lead and serve the church faithfully as we move into this next chapter.


Len Rempel lives in Warman, Saskatchewan, and can be reached at minister@mcsask.ca.

Photo: Jakob Owens/UNSPLASH

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