A Timely and Valuable Partnership with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
A partnership between AG World Missions Europe Region and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada is proving ideal as in many ways Canada is more like Europe than the United States.Why is Assemblies of God World Missions Europe Region sending missionaries to Canada? People are asking this question. Many assume that Canada and the United States are similar. However, Canada is very different from the United States.
AGWM Communications recently talked with Dave Wells, general superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC), Brian Egert, PAOC Mission Canada director and assistant to the general superintendent, and Larry Henderson, AGWM Europe regional director. They answer the “Why Canada?” question.
What are the realities of ministry in Canada today?
WELLS: Canada is an increasingly secularized country. A growing percentage of the population indicate that they have no religious affiliation. Statisticians call them “nones.” There are some regions in Canada where the “nones” are a majority. Many Canadians, especially those who are younger and/or irreligious, are disconnected from the church. To reach these people requires relationally based, “go be among them” ministry. Grace and truth must be the focus of our mission in reaching Canada with the gospel.
Canada is also a diverse, multicultural society. We have welcomed over 1 million newcomers in the past year. This migration has increased the number of adherents in several Christian and non-Christian faith groups. Vital local churches — whether urban, rural, intercultural, or cultural — with strong community engagement are regularly seeing people come to faith, be baptized, and grow in their faith.
HENDERSON: Like David has explained, the cultural landscape and people of Canada are uniquely different as you travel across each province. Much like Europe, secularism has overshadowed campuses and cities. This is especially true in Quebec. The center of Canadian life is clearly “self.” Canada has opened her arms to the world, which has increased her cultural diversity. This has brought about a broader worldview among Canadians, especially when compared to other parts of the Western world.
What are the main Mission Canada initiatives? How are you working to fulfill those initiatives?
EGERT: Mission Canada is similar to Assemblies of God U.S. Missions. We have identified five ‘missional gaps’ or priorities: The Next Generation — Children, Youth, and Campuses; Quebec and Francophone Canada; Urban Centers; New Canadians and Cultural Language Groups; and the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. We focus on three strategic actions: discipleship, church multiplication, and social responsibility. We oversee these missional gaps and help develop gospel fluency, strategies, and resources for them.
Second, we identify and deploy personnel to fulfill these five missional gaps. Like Jesus instructed His disciples in Luke 10:2, we pray to the Lord of the Harvest for workers in His harvest. Traditional church ministry will not reach most Canadians. We need ministry specialists who can navigate our increasingly secular, diverse, and multi-cultural ministry contexts. We see the need for additional Spirit-empowered missionary workers who are trained to reach these challenging “Samaria” regions and cultures within our own country.
Our partnership with AGWM assists us in placing qualified and trained workers into these key missional areas to work in places and among people groups who need to know and experience the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ.
HENDERSON: Canada has strong churches that are reaching into Canadian culture. We are partnering with Mission Canada by coming alongside these churches and “filling in the gaps” — providing people to minister in areas where these churches need assistance.
What are the strengths of the partnership between Mission Canada and AGWM?
EGERT: We appreciate the heart of the AGWM Europe Region leadership as they serve our PAOC initiatives. Many Assemblies of God pastors who have served in Canada understand the subtle, yet noticeable, differences of ministry north of the 49th parallel.
The partnership with AGWM Europe Region helps us place called workers into strategic under reached areas in Canadian culture. This like-minded, Spirit-empowered mission partnership is producing fruit.
HENDERSON: One of our greatest strengths in AGWM Europe Region’s partnership with the PAOC is the similarities of cultures when compared to Europe. AGWM Europe Region missionaries understand how to share the gospel in the secular context.
How is AGWM Europe Region currently engaging in Canada? What are future plans?
HENDERSON: AGWM Europe Region is working with the PAOC the same way we are working with the national church in Europe. Over the last year, AGWM Europe Region decided to learn how we can best come alongside Mission Canada and engage in a variety of ministries such as university campuses, working with indigenous First Nations peoples, youth ministry, and the unique ministry needs in the urban centers. Our heart is to support their vision to start new campus outreaches as well as engage in other missional gaps as we share Jesus with the least-reached and least-engaged of Canada.
EGERT: Our partnership with AGWM provides trained Assemblies of God personnel who have experience in a secular ministry context to relocate to Canada and minister in the missional gaps. The ministry in Quebec has been the initial concentration for this relocation of workers. The future plan is to have opportunities for teams and ministry personnel who would be interested in engaging in this increasingly secular ministry context.
What are the things that people need to understand to minister in Canada?
WELLS: Canadians have a self-perception that they value community over individualism. This is especially true in healthcare. People around the globe respect Canada for its awareness of other nations and cultures. Many in Canada are intolerant toward those who do not accept or live by “Canadian values.” Many of these values are currently shaped by a highly secularized, individualistic society. There has been a rapid acceleration of legislation along these lines including assisted suicide, which is labeled medical assistance in dying, or MAID. There is also emphasis in education requirements related to human sexuality/gender preferences.
EGERT: Even though Canada may look the same on the outside — with American businesses like Starbucks, McDonalds, and American Eagle — there are subtle differences that a person may miss. We must be different in our approach to ministry.
HENDERSON: Canada is very different from the United States. It is easy to assume that Canada and the United States are similar, but Canada’s diversity, progressive liberalism, and secular context are much more like Europe than the United State. This is especially true in the region of Quebec where we desire to increase our ministry engagement.
This article originally appeared in Volume 9, Issue 5 of the Worldview magazine. Used with permission.