On February 9, members of Business as Mission and Transformation: South Georgian Bay invited The Navigators to Collingwood, ON to host the fourth Disciple! conference and help catalyze the process of discipleship in the area.
The conference attracted more than 100 people from 17 churches and took place at the Cranberry Resort. Business as Mission and Transformation: South Georgian Bay are new, interdenominational initiatives in the South Georgian Bay area focused on helping people in the local communities develop a missional mindset.
Frank Tilley, the executive director for the Mully Children’s Family Charitable Foundation and a 30-year veteran of the Navigators’ board of directors, first suggested the idea for this conference shortly after the inaugural Civic Prayer Breakfast in April 2014. He had previously attended the 2013 conference in Guelph, ON and says he came away with a strong desire to see one like it happen in Collingwood.
Tilley and other members of the Business as Mission group approached Jack Vanderkooy, who works with Transformation: South Georgian Bay, about bringing in the conference. Vanderkooy says he agreed to come on board because of how integral discipleship is to the transformation process. “Discipleship is the topic, but transformation is the overall vision. In order for transformation to happen, we need to be serious about discipleship, we need to be serious about prayer, we need to be serious about loving God and waiting to see what he’s doing. That’s the big goal.”
To help the attendees envision how discipleship may look in their lives, The Navigators brought in five speakers who specialize in discipleship. From Guelph came Luciano Del Monte and Pete and Cathy Kuehni, Navigators who have been active in the spheres of life coaching, business ministry and counseling. Jeff Russo, a fitness entrepreneur from Bolton, ON, came to speak on finding Jesus in the marketplace and Kimberly Matthisen, a member of the Navigators’ National Leadership Team, came to share about her experiences discipling women.
Recordings and PowerPoint slides from each speaker’s session can be found on the Disciple! website.
At the end of the conference, Vanderkooy had nothing but praise for the speakers. “The Navigators had people here who are absolutely convinced and convicted of what they’re doing in the Kingdom, sharing it with us and motivating us to say ‘yes, this is possible.’”
He wasn’t the only one. Here’s what some of the participants had to say:
Roy MacGregor: “It was a good introduction to mentoring and looking for opportunities to be involved intentionally in Kingdom ministry.”
Christine Rickards: “This conference has given me inspiration and practical information to come alongside seekers.”
Greg Garant: “It is a must for all Christians.”
Marybelle Randall: “All did a great job, you can tell that they are on fire for God! … It was really well-organized and the food was great. The speakers were down to earth, approachable and understandable. They didn’t use ‘Bible lingo’ and made the discipling ‘God’s work.’”
Looking towards the future, Vanderkooy says this Disciple! conference brings them one step closer to seeing transformation in the region. “I think the point is [that] this isn’t one event. This is part of a movement, all part of the transformation continuum, and we’re just here saying ‘God, wherever you want, I’m here.’”
Speaking from his personal experience, Tilley says the one-to-one discipleship style of The Navigators that was brought out in the conference is the most effective way to help people grow closer to Jesus. “You talk to most people in this room, and it won’t be a television program, it won’t be a book, it won’t be a church, it’ll be an individual who brought them to Christ. That’s happened in my life. An individual led me to Christ as an adult. Then I wanted to grow and a Navigator came into my backyard, literally, and I had this phenomenal explosion in my relationship and knowledge of God, and it meant so much to me I tried to pass it on. I’m not involved with the Navigators officially now, but I’m always a Navigator. It just gets in your blood. And one-on-one [discipleship], conceptually I believe is the most effective way.”