Forge Canada began in 1998 in Vancouver, BC. Southside Community Church was growing and multiplying into new neighbourhoods and there was a need to train leaders for the transformation of these neighbourhoods. Southside held a deep belief that followers of Jesus were to live incarnationally and began to grow in its understanding of what it meant to be a missional people.
A training program was developed where leaders began to wrestle with issues of the Gospel, our culture and the nature of the church. How do the people of God learn to live in the context of their neighbourhood as a missional people? This training helped young leaders to grow in their leadership and helped to shape the church in a way where neighbourhood transformation was a result of their life together.
Forge (then called “Interns”) began to grow in its understanding of how people learn. It was crucial for the program to not just have lectures but to be shaped around three main areas.
First, we believed there was a need for the group to experience community. There was an emphasis on living in mutual accountability around a set of practices that shaped our character in the image of Christ. Second, there was a belief that in order to lead a missional congregation there was needed a new set of competencies that were not being taught through existing seminaries. Third, a number of different courses were needed to sharpen the minds of the leaders to reflect theologically in areas that were often left undone. Forge was not to become another seminary, but rather, a new way of learning.
Several years into the program, a relationship developed with Carey Theological College enabling us to offer a Masters Degree for participation in the “Interns” program. This relationship has proven to be vital in the training of a new generation of leaders. Students or participants can now choose to get a Masters degree while remaining deeply involved in their local community. The pedagogy has also radically changed. Teaching does not “just happen” in the context of a lecturer addressing the students, but rather flows from the life of community and the context of ministry. Up to ten courses were developed. These courses included several in leadership, two in the nature of the Gospel, two regarding culture, two in missional ecclesiology and one in spiritual formation.
As the years moved on, leaders from other churches began to enquire into the possibility of joining and becoming equipped. Pastors and emerging leaders began being involved in the Forge community, desiring to see their own churches transformed and organized around mission. They were sensing the call of God to transform their local neighbourhoods.
Canadian Baptist Ministries heard of the work being done in Vancouver and was excited about becoming involved. A partnership was arranged whereby the vision to launch “Training Hubs” in other cities across the country developed and the current Forge Missional Training Network was born. Other schools have made enquiries and different denominations have begun to get involved. With a relationship with both Church Planting Canada and a relationship with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, who knows what God will bring as we move forward!
We invite you to be involved in writing the next chapter of Forge as we seek “to Establish Multiplying Missional Christian Communities.”