From the seed of an idea . . . to a community of envisioned leaders


A LITTLE BACKGROUND

International churches and fellowships (ICs) have been around for over a hundred years. They come in all sorts of flavors with a diversity of demographics and emphases. They can be large or small, in developed and developing countries, denominational or interdenominational, and with a variety of visions for their place in God’s mission in the world. And the number of ICs is growing rapidly across the globe even as the world experiences the highest levels of migration ever. They bring a particular kind of joy to those who have made them home. The early story of MICN began in the heart of Warren Reeve.


HEART STIRRINGS

warren-reaves

Warren Reeve, founder MICN

International churches and fellowships (ICs) have been around for over a hundred years. They come in all sorts of flavors with a diversity of demographics and emphases. They can be large or small, in developed and developing countries, denominational or interdenominational, and with a variety of visions for their place in God’s mission in the world. And the number of ICs is growing rapidly across the globe even as the world experiences the highest levels of migration ever. They bring a particular kind of joy to those who have made them home. The early story of MICN began in the heart of Warren Reeve.


BIRTH OF A DREAM

Warren writes, “On a cold Saskatchewan Canadian winter day in 1994 I received a very warm invitation. TV Thomas recommended me to Leighton Ford Ministries Evangelism/Leadership seminar in balmy Alabama United States. Dr Leighton Ford became a significant mentor as I progressed through several leadership education tracks. Dr Ford impacted me then and now. Among numerous lessons learned that have become my ministry DNA are the values of Kingdom versus Empire, empowering leadership versus territorial controlling and association versus denomination. The differences between these three conceptual paradigms were to become the conceptual genesis of MICN.”

We asked Warren to explain these values. Kingdom versus Empire because Biblical ministry is owned by God, no one is supposed to possess, dominate or control it. Empowering leadership motivates to equip and release as opposed to Territorial Controlling that manipulates to command and demand. Association is conceptually inclusive and welcoming to all that desire to join whereas Denomination is structurally exclusive and requires outsiders to conform. MICN attempted to adopt and practice Kingdom, Empowering and Association values from the start.

In 2000, Harvey Matchullis facilitated a three day International Church think tank sponsored by the Canadian Christian and Missionary Alliance in Szepalma Hungary. Thirteen IC Pastors and spouses together with five International Executives came from five continents to think and dream. The list included but was not limited to: Dave and Brenda Petrescue from Egypt, Bob and Louella Gould from Thailand, Larry and Barb Boss from Poland, Warren and Debbie Reeve from Indonesia, Shelley Ryan from France and Arnell Motz from Ethiopia. In addition to this list were two former IC Pastors and Harvey Matchullis, Brem Brentz and his wife Donna.

Warren again, “During these days of alluring case studies, sagacious reflection and synergistic discussion a dream to network the IC’s and leaders was unearthed within my heart. The potential of the diaspora collection inside the IC around the globe inspired me. This dream has never left me though I have tried to leave the dream. The DNA of MICN was affirmed in my heart in Hungary. The Szepalma Declaration (Appendix A) was a clear articulated confirmation of the Leighton Ford impartation that was now developing in my ministry expression. These convictions preceded an undeniable call that set the stage for the birth of MICN.”

God’s divine arrangement of high caliber, capable people in the IC’s across the globe is profound. Most IC’s are an assembly of Christians that are inordinately adventurous, highly educated, entrepreneurial, Biblically literate and living effectively outside their countries of origin. These ingredients and the right leadership are a recipe for exponential Kingdom expansion. The 21st century IC is a similar context to the church of Acts 13:1-3. The five personalities named Acts 13:2 captured my imagination. Why? The Antioch church could be more appropriately identified as the First International Church. The membership roll includes: Jew and Gentile, privileged and persecuted, mentor and mentoree, national and international. Out of this motley crew came the missions movement, missional in action. The diaspora of first century Palestine is again common in our world, except now it is truly global. So, why not believe God for the same profound proliferation of the gospel through IC’s around the world? Since cross cultural church planting started in Antioch, maybe the same could happen in the IC in cities world-wide.


DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGY 

Although the birth of MICN was initiated in Warren’s heart, many have owned the dream and it is still catching. The BIC leadership team provided a launching pad for a vision beyond the local church, they invested time, effort, personnel and finances into planting, equipping and encouraging IC’s and leaders in Indonesia from 1998 onward. Later BIC invested into the IC in Malaysia and Viet Nam. Numerous individuals, including prayer intercessors, donors, unnamed International Workers and contributors helped the development of MICN. In 2001 Keith Webb from Church Resource Ministry moved to Bandung, and soon became the chairman of the BIC leadership team. The synergy Keith and Warren enjoyed brought life to these aspirations and birthed dreams of multiplying Kingdom impact globally.

Keith coached Warren through a Bobby Clinton based “Focusing Leaders” process that produced a Personal Calling Statement. It was three-fold; to pastor BIC, to develop a local mission agency reaching Indonesians in a contextual way, and to catalyze IC’s to be beachheads for the gospel in their countries.

Warren describes this experience, “As God clarified my vision, we merged our passions and experience. Keith used his outstanding implementation skills to develop structure, strategy, systems and a name for networking IC’s. The combination of vision and empowering structures combined made a unified and supportive IC network we called the Missional International Church Network.”

In 2004 MICN hosted the inaugural conference in Jakarta. Participants came from several countries including the United Arab Emirates IC’s. They then hosted the next conference in 2005. The ball was rolling…the dynamic was at work. In the UAE the first MICN leadership team was assembled. The original group was Graham Chipps from Cambodia, Brad Hillman from UAE,  Jacob Bloemberg from Viet Nam, Keith Webb and Warren Reeve from Indonesia.

At this MICN conference the vision was further articulated and documented: a vision which began with Warren’s BIC experience and the envisioning that was birthed through the Leighton Ford’s mentoring now was given concrete shape and a direction for continued development. Subsequent refinements and additions have produced strategy and substance as well as a strong interdenominational partnership of international church leaders. Appendix B, entitled MICN Strategic Intent, expresses the significant and stimulating development of the vision out of its early days in the 1990s.

Since 2004 the MICN leadership team has had people come and go. In addition to Jacob, Graham and Warren, Cam Arensen from UAE, Kyle Wisdom from Indonesia and Craig MacKenzie and Karin Thorne from Malaysia have served on the MICN leadership team. Each year as the leadership team meets, the vision of MICN is explored further with greater clarity and with increasing awareness of the many possibilities for how ICs can be participants and catalysts for a great variety of expressions of the missio Dei.

MICN Team 2006, LTR back: Warren Reeve, Brad Hillman, Craig McKenzie, Graham Chipps; front: Keith Webb, Jacob Bloemberg

By 2006 a member care initiative was launched inside MICN. Michael Cusick from Restoring the Soul attended to the member care needs of MICN delegates during the annual conferences and beyond. In 2011 Eric and Rachel assumed the ever increasing need to pastor the IC Pastor’s. Michael, Eric and Rachel have addressed and are meeting a vital shepherding role within MICN.

After leading MICN for seven years it was time to pass the baton. Warren Reeve transitioned out and Jacob Bloemberg became MICN Lead Facilitator at our Malaysian conference in 2009. In many ways Jacob is the MICN poster boy! His story of IC leadership and growth in Communist Hanoi Viet Nam is incredible. Jerry and Jacque Zandstra from Kuwait attended MICN in 2009. While there Jerry recruited Warren to join the pastoral team in Kuwait. Before Jerry died they decided together that Lighthouse IC Kuwait should host MICN for the 10th anniversary.


10TH ANNIVERSARY

One lesson have learned from this kaleidoscope story is that at least three components contributed to the development of MICN: individuals, local churches and organizations. MICN would not be what it is today apart from each of these contributors. Leaders from more than 50 countries, an untold number of agencies, organizations and churches make up the network. MICN is not about numbers but the specialized niche of the IC in the world today. Imagine all this happening without organizational funds, backing or covering … another sign of a movement.

Warren comments anticipating the MICN 10th anniversary. “There was a “kairos” sense that God was up to something bigger than anyone knew as we approached the first decade celebration of MICN. This was to be the largest gathering of leaders in the development of MICN. After ten years MICN was attracting significant leaders from various parts of the world sacrificing time, effort and funds to attend and participate. Leadership representation from five organizations gathered to craft a common ground document that would capture the moment. From MICN: Jacob Bloemberg, Graham Chipps and Nelson Annon. From Lighthouse Church: Warren Reeve, Ken Driedger and Carson Pue. From the Christian and Missionary Alliance: Dave Hearn, Brem Frentz and Gerald Hogenbirk. From Vision International University: Stan DeKovan. From Lighthouse Outreaches: Steve Mills. The result was the Kuwait Affirmation.  See Appendix C.

The Kuwait Affirmation was signed by the delegates of the MICN 10th anniversary. The collective documented “unity of purpose” has helped others join the cause. In 2014 Ken Driedger was appointed Executive Director of MICN. Ken’s bishop background was necessary to move MICN from a loosely knit network to a more formalized network with specific goals and objectives specific to meeting the needs of international churches. Ken lead in forming official partnerships with Lausanne, The Global Diaspora Network and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Ken invited three International Church network founders together in 2014: Terry Hoggard from that Fellowship of European International Churches, Jon Davis from the China International Fellowship and Warren Reeve from MICN.  This resulted in three networks amalgamating annual conferences into one large conference called Global Church for a Global World hosted in Hong Kong April 2016.

The objectives of the Global Church for a Global World were organized in three concise objectives: To declare to the widest audience possible that the Global Church is rising to meet the demands of a Global World, to affirm that we applaud all with a common heart to facilitate this Global Church vision and to aspire to link our hearts and efforts with Christ followers everywhere to engage in the Global International Church movement. The GCGW closed with an opportunity to sign the Global Declaration (See Appendix D) indicating their commitment to the God-sized dream of the International Church movement. The next GCGW conference is scheduled for spring of 2019 in Dubai. Between now and then each International network will resume with their respective annual conferences. MICN provides a significant role in leading the International Church movement through GCGW.


MICN LEADERSHIP TEAM, MAY 2016

In the lead up to the 2017 conference a major personnel development took place. Ken Driedger became the full time Director, Warren Reeve joined the staff as a visionary voice and KR Paton became the Implemeter. Two new IC pastors also joined – David Fresch from Stavenger, Norway and Bill Koogler from Dubai, UAE.
The leadership team now consists of (L to R): Jacob Bloemberg, Graham Chipps, David Fresch, Bill Koogler, Ken Driedger, KR Paton, Warren Reeve, Rob Tucker (advisor).


15TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2017

The 15th annual MICN conference was hosted by St Andrews Presbyterian International church in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, May 1-4, 2017. Keynote speakers Bill Hybels and Martin Sanders addressed the critical subject and soul of leadership under the theme: Leading From the Inside; To Lead on the Outside. MICN committed time, energy and resources towards enabling and encouraging International Church leaders to cast and implement missional vision for the churches they lead. Once again there was opportunity to invest in International Church leaders because many serve in the most difficult places on the planet.

At this conference the Passion, Purpose, Priorities and Plans for MICN for the next 3 to 5 years were rolled out and valuable directional input from the delegates incorporated. The result is a “story board” that can be accessed at this link – http://micn.org/dna/

Conclusion

MICN is the only interdenominational / multidenominational network serving the international church.  International church pastors and leaders are invited to join MICN so together we can Strengthen the International Church Movement for Missional Impact.

Appendix A: Szepalma Declaration on International Churches (2000)

Appendix B: MICN Strategic Intent

Appendix C: Kuwait Affirmation (2013)

Appendix D: Global Church Declaration (2016)