The Leatherman Church

The Leatherman Church

A metaphor for the church

Near the beginning of our time with COVID, I was inspired by Ryan Dueck’s words of appreciation for the church networks and relationships that have been tended and grown over time. During stressful times, we realize the importance of our roots in larger systems and structures. As I think about the church with its multiple layers that seeks to respond to a multitude of concerns and grow in a variety of new directions, a Leatherman multi-tool comes to mind.

The church is not a single, one-purpose entity. We are a “multi” church that, like a Leatherman, has more individual facets and creative uses than you might ever discover. The church is full of numerous tools that you don’t even know you need...until the day you do.

Because we don’t encounter the expanse of Leatherman Church tools on a daily basis, we’re apt to take them for granted. Take education, for example. We might think of our church schools as simply one option among many as career paths are explored. However, considering the church over time and across borders, or finding ourselves on a search committee can reveal how important our church schools really are. The church needs people who have an understanding of our story, people whose heart’s desire is to delve into the Biblical story, and people who are trained to think theologically. We can’t assume that leaders, whether pastoral, lay or in partner organizations, will always be there unless we commit to their nurturing, training and calling.

The Leatherman Church grows together, even as it’s made up of individual parts. Integrating “me” and “we” happens when we deliberately engage with one another. Our October 24 study conference, “Table Talk: Does the Church still have legs?” is a place to explore questions like: Have we become too focused on self-preservation and comfort? Do people today still need God? Is “the church” more than Sunday morning worship? How we ask and answer these questions has implications for the congregational, regional and nation-wide choices we make as we live out God’s shalom vision.

Being a part of a global fellowship through Mennonite World Conference draws our attention to another tool of the Leatherman Church: capacity. We don’t have to look far to realize that, during this pandemic, our Canadian context provides us with the capacity to access supports, to offer resources, and to care for one another. Our churches in the global south don’t have the same capacity and are asking MWC to help them respond to the needs in their congregations and communities. Twenty-one proposals have already been approved, and your participation is requested to match or exceed MC Canada’s $50,000 commitment to walk with our brothers and sisters in the south.

These “tools” just barely scratch the surface of the Church. We’re a fascinating body. We’re multi-dimensional and multi-purpose and, like a Leatherman, sometimes there are parts that we can’t quite figure out. But, when held together by a common faith and purpose under God, we’re pretty amazing!