John Hall has been planning significant changes for the annual Missions Fest conference for quite some time.
Here he explains the name change – to Mission Central – but also how he and his team have adapted to the pandemic, developing three separate online events instead of the normal weekend gathering.
Mission Central’s mission is to help churches become a missionary people and each person to become a mature disciple of Jesus.
In our writings, conversations, seminars and conferences, we raise the centrality of Christ and his kingdom in the life of every believer, and the importance of forming every disciple in Christ’s image, with his mission.
In September 2019, Missions Festival Society, better known as Missions Fest Vancouver, changed its name to Mission Central Christian Society to better reflect our growing year-round ministry. God has graciously positioned us to act as a networking hub. We gather churches and people from diverse backgrounds with the common goal of participating in Jesus’ mission.
What has changed?
A few things have changed since Missions Fest Vancouver was launched in January 1984, particularly in the Canadian landscape.
When Missions Fest began, our focus in missions was on the nations in the Global South where the Gospel was just beginning to flourish. Since the 1980s, the growth of evangelical Christianity has been phenomenal there. Today, the majority of evangelicals are found in the Global South.
Also, through globalization, the nations have become Canadians. This has given us an unprecedented opportunity to deepen the Gospel’s impact among diaspora communities and for our churches to be refreshed with new zeal.
Sadly, a negative change has occurred over the same period. From the early 80s until now, Canada has become much more secular. There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of people who are practicing Christians.
According to a poll called God and Society in North America, in 1996, 12 percent of Canadians were evangelical affiliates. A 2015 poll found 9 percent. Today that seems to have dropped to 6 percent. This raises an important question, “Why has there been a decline in evangelicalism?”
At the heart of Canada’s decline of the evangelical church is weak discipleship. That’s more than a bit ironic because of evangelicals’ love for the Great Commission. The version of the Great Commission most of us are familiar with is in Matthew 28:19-20:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age
Forming new disciples requires communities, and .individuals in those communities, who are being formed into the likeness of Christ. The church is supposed to be identifiable because of the way that the people of God reflect the love and character of Christ, proclaim the coming of the kingdom, and resist the powers of darkness at work in the world.
We are not to retreat to our ghetto. We are called to be salt and light. Somewhere, collectively, we have lost the thread.
As part of Mission Central’s strategy to proclaim the kingdom and reintegrate discipleship and mission, we are introducing three new conferences.
SERVE (January 29 – 31)
This conference resembles Missions Fest Vancouver, where we raise the importance of missions, including a focus on sharing the Gospel, issues of justice, peace and reconciliation, both here at home and around the world.
General sessions feature great missional speakers like Joshua Bogunjoko (SIM), Lisa Koons (24/7 Prayer US) and Alan Hirsch. We also have 40 seminars, six Bird-of-a-Feather discussions and more than 100 mission agencies you can interact with.
GROW (February 19 – 20)
Discipleship is central to the advancement of the kingdom and the growth of the church.
GROW helps you become a mature missional disciple by introducing spiritual practices and disciplines in the context of community. We dream of cohorts of mini-Jesuses bringing the love and reconciliation of Christ into every sphere of society.
CREATE (February 26 – 27)
Art influences culture and should be a concern for those who love Christ’s mission.
CREATE is a conference for Christian creatives and those who love the arts. We want to see Christian artists infused with fresh passion and joy as children of God. As their communal and personal discipleship deepens, we know their art will express the truth, beauty and goodness of a loving God to a dying world, transcending the pigeon-hole of ‘Christian art.’
Each of our conferences will be online this year. SERVE will be hosted on the Pathable Virtual Conference platform, which will enable us to have multiple events happening concurrently and includes social interactivity between attendees to simulate a real conference experience.
Registration is open, so visit our website to register today: Get tickets here.
John Hall has been executive director at Mission Central since 2014.