Looking towards Toronto

In December 2014, The Navigators announced a plan to establish city ministry teams in 15 cities across the country over the next three years. These teams, comprised of Navigator employees and volunteers within each city, will increase The Navigators’ capacity to serve the needs of the city and invest in people who want to live out their faith. The first tangible steps in bringing this plan to fulfillment have already started to happen, as our national director Chris Barrett has traveled around meeting with Navigator leaders throughout the country.

His most recent trip took place at the end of January, where he and a number of other Navigator leaders traveled to Toronto, ON, the largest and most culturally diverse city in Canada. The Navigators’ national leadership team is expecting Toronto to be one of the initial six cities to establish a city ministry team. The purpose of this exploratory trip was to help the leaders discern the role God may have for The Navigators in Toronto. Also joining them was Bob Adgate, the former leader of the US Navigators’ Metro ministry. Adgate lent his expertise in city ministry development to the group as they engaged with different people throughout the city, ranging in age from early twenties to early seventies.

Barrett says that through all the people they met with, the common thread tying them together was their shared history of Navigator involvement. “We met with recent university grads as well as those who had been involved with the Navigators during their university days years ago. We met with former Navigator staff and board members and those who have been connected in various ways with the Navigators over the years.”

In his reflections on the trip, Dan McIver, a Navigator leader from Kingston, recounted one particular experience from their time in the city that stuck with him on the train ride home.

“We’re having lunch with a sharply-dressed young man who works in Toronto’s downtown financial sector. Our man describes the cutthroat competition he faces among his co-workers in the business. The workplace talk is all about teamwork, but the reality doesn’t match the rhetoric. Is there any part for us to play here? Is there any support we can give? Any encouragement? These are the questions running through my mind during the day we spent in the heart of the city. In our talks with young professionals and with those who are already established in their careers, there is a common thread. Their lives have been touched, challenged and developed through their Navigator experience and they miss that level of intentional involvement in their lives.”

Another member of the exploratory team was Mike Noble, a veteran Navigator based in Toronto. He said he was most encouraged by the mix of people they met with. “I felt it was rich in who was there, in terms of old and young, and rich in terms of quality-gifted people who have entrepreneurially made their way with thanksgiving to the Navigators. They have done things where they are. They are engaged in the lives of people, simply because of what the Navigators have meant to them and done with them and built into them.”

Looking back on the trip, Barrett says it was a sign of good things to come as the Navigators become more involved in the city. “It was good to connect and re-connect with others who are part of the Navigators movement in Toronto,” he says. “People enjoyed meeting each other – some for the first time and some to reacquaint. It was good to hear stories about how people are following Jesus and seeking to make a positive impact in their various contexts. People appreciated hearing more about the future direction of the Navigators. In retrospect I wish we had spent even more time hearing from people about their dreams and challenges as they seek to live out their faith where they live, work and play. We look forward to spending the next year continuing to listen to people and to God to discover what role the Navigators might play in Toronto.”

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