Impact Canada is a new program developed to create a way to resource networks of churches looking to collaboratively engage in transformational development in the places where they are rooted. Impact Canada is a response to the growing number of requests that TrueCity has received to share lessons learned over the past 14 years that churches have collaboratively engaged the vision of being “churches together for the good of the city” in Hamilton. Since 2004 churches have been working together with the vision of “churches together for the good of the city”. We help churches embrace each other — to connect and build networks characterized by trust. We help equip churches with discipleship training that enables people to join God in what He is doing in their place. We also help churches engage their context — to see what areas of transformational development exist or what areas God is opening up and how churches may collaborate to have impact there.
The stories coming from Hamilton are being shared, and churches and communities are asking for coaching. Through our partnership in Hamilton, iTeams has developed skills and gained experience needed to coach and empower other leaders to develop missional networks in their contexts. We continue to work together to see networks of churches coming together as the body of Christ for the good of their specific geographic location, uniting together around a common sense of mission. Through this churches will see transformation within their congregations and their cities.
Over the past fourteen years TrueCity and iTeams have learned together about the joys and challenges of living out the reality of being the larger body of Christ across a city. Out of this experience of coming together the realization has developed that Transformational Engagement , Missional Discipleship and Network Development are three overlapping core competencies vital for a missional network to flourish.
It’s been exciting to learn that people are interested in supporting and being involved with the vision of churches together. Joel Vandyke (CRWM) wrote that, “It seems clear that TrueCity has a lot to offer the rest of our networks in terms of strategy in building collaboration and synergistic partnership between communities of faith.”
Detailed Implementation Plan
Over the past six months we are encouraged to see how God is using the stories and transformations coming from TrueCity in Hamilton to inspire and encourage churches and disciples within other cities and towns. The idea of “churches together for the good of the city” is spreading and people are looking to what’s been happening in Hamilton.
We have partnered with MCEC to provide leadership to their ReLearning Communities, a two year journey that equips churches in relational disciple-making. Andrew Zantingh works with the core leadership team to develop vision and implement a strategy for spreading 3DM missional discipleship in Southern Ontario and across Canada. We’ve been able to recruit three churches involved in the Impact Canada network to engage in Relearning Community for November 2018.
The network in Hamilton also continues to come together through refugee engagement, indigenous reconciliation and environmental stewardship. Over the past six months there have been pastor swaps, facility sharing, prayer and music nights as well as neighbourhood events bringing the local body of Christ together. At Christmastime many churches came together for joint Christmas Eve services and choirs.
This year TrueCity updated their Collaboration Agreement, outlining their shared conviction that churches have a unique role to play in the city and it is better to do it together. The TrueCity Leadership team has three new members, and within the leadership team task forces focused on church partnership, communication and the conference have also started.
We’ve also started a Community of Practice in Hamilton, for groups of leaders that were discipled and are now leading their own discipleship huddles. The Community of Practice meets biweekly for a time of encouragement and resourcing with five churches represented.
In Fergus/Elora, Simcoe and Dunnville we’ve continued to facilitate weekly discipleship groups for church leaders equipping them to see missional discipleship take root in their own congregations and beginning to develop a vision for multi-church collaboration. We’ve been equipping these groups of leaders with a common language of mission, weekly discerning Jesus’ voice. The leaders discussed their vision for the city and began to imagine what it could look like for their churches to join together. We are excited to see how God will continue to use the local churches in these contexts as they are equipped to embrace each other and engage their contexts.
Our vision is to see networks of churches coming together as the body of Christ for the good of their cities, uniting together around shared arenas of mission and growing in their discipling capacity. In 2019 we will continue resourcing weekly discipleship huddles in four cities: Dunnville, Simcoe, Elora/Fergus and Hamilton with participants representing over sixteen churches.
In Hamilton we are looking forward to the 15th annual TrueCity Conference on March 1 and 2. This year’s theme is “A Long Obedience: Persevering Together in the Way of Jesus”. Through relevant speakers, storytellers and times of worship, this year’s TrueCity Conference will explore how far God can take us when we choose to persevere together in the way of Jesus. Huddle participants and those interested in church collaboration are all invited to learn from the TrueCity network in Hamilton at the conference.
March 2nd will launch the TrueCity 24/14 Prayer Room, in partnership with GOHOP (Greater Ontario House of Prayer). It will run from March 2nd to March 16.
TrueCity will continue to explore possibilities and opportunities for collaboration around indigenous reconciliation and refugee resettlement. TrueCity is hoping to launch their new website early in 2019.
Impact Canada staff will go to a conference in Ottawa in January 2019 to learn from collaborative church networks there.
Stories of Transformation
Refugee ministry is one of the core ways that TrueCity churches have partnered together in mission since the early days. They have developed a desire to support refugee claimants and so getting involved in a new initiative like Open Homes feels quite natural. Open Homes is an independent community organization whose goal is to support refugee claimants by offering home-based hospitality.
Open Homes launched in Hamilton in September 2018, and in a crowd of over 60 people who attended, 11 churches were represented. Facilitators Katie and Alison agree that there have “absolutely been benefits in starting Open Homes in Hamilton where there is a robust church network because of TrueCity. We saw it very clearly on our Launch Night. It was very natural for so many people from 11 different churches to come and be part of an initiative that is a collaborative multi church effort because they have already been doing it for many years.”