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L2L Network: Leadership Development Resources (2012–2017)

Proper Title

L2L Network series

Dates of Creation


Administrative History

In 1995, the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren churches received results from a national study by Ken Peters, a student at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, which claimed that 49% of Mennonite Brethren churches in urban Canada had either plateaued in growth, or were declining in numbers (MB Herald Oct 1997). The executive staff, having developed an increasing concern for the health of Mennonite Brethren churches, quickly moved to investigate a solution to address these statistics by exploring a church refocusing strategy called the "ReFocusing Network System," produced by Church Resource Ministries and headed by Terry Walling.

Ewald Unruh (Board of Evangelism), David Wiebe (Board of Christian Education), and Reuben Pauls (Executive Minister) attended an intensive training retreat and began training networks for Mennonite Brethren churches in 1996. The Refocusing Network System was affirmed by the Executive Board in 1997, at which time the Canadian Conference decided to do some refocusing of its own. Two years later, in 1999, the Conference declared a shift in its focus, naming three new focus areas: healthy churches, planting churches, and leadership development.  The Board of Evangelism took charge of the programs related to healthy churches and planting churches, while the Board of Communication cultivated leadership development.

During the next several years, the Canadian Conference struggled to realign its ministries around its three new focus areas. In 2002, the Board of Christian Education, the Board of Evangelism, and the Board of Communication were dissolved and replaced by one umbrella board, the Board of Discipleship Ministries (see Board of Discipleship Ministries series). This board was given responsibilities in communication, church health, leadership development, and equipping leaders.

Large-scale changes occurred in 2004, when the Conference was reorganized under the Governance Model designed by Les Stahlke (for more details, see Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren churches fonds description). At this time, six focus areas were presented to Mennonite Brethren constituents – faith and life, healthy churches, reaching out, leadership development, communication, and financial services. The reorganization of the Conference and its staff involved the dissolution of all boards and committees and the formation of departments that corresponded to these foci. The boards were given until January 2005 to bring closure to their projects, at which time their duties were relocated within the new departments. Cam Rowland, originally the director of the Board of Discipleship Ministries, became the director of Church Healthy and Communication, and Ewald Unruh, previously the director of the Board of Evangelism, became the director of Evangelism Canada (see Reaching Out series) and Leadership Development.

In 2008, a new department, known as "ReGenerate 21-01," took over the administration of Reaching Out, Church Health, and Leadership Development. Cam Rowland remained director of Communication, while Ewald Unruh became director of ReGenerate 21-01. This department was renamed in 2010, becoming the department of Church Ministries. In 2012, Church Ministries was divided into two departments: Church Planting and Leadership Development/Church Health. Ron Toews became director of Leadership Development in 2012, working together with Church Health administrator, Dave Jackson. In 2013, this department was renamed "Resourcing Churches Developing Leaders," a name which was replaced with "L2L" (an acronym left intentionally ambiguous, meaning: Learners to Leaders or Leaders to Learners) shortly after in 2014. The L2L network aimed to provide leadership development and church health resources to churches.

All programs related to church health and leadership development have been placed in this series, regardless of their start date. See below for a list of programs and key leaders.


  • Refocusing (Focused Ministries): Helps churches understand where they have been, where the are going, and how they will get there.
  • Natural Church Development: A church health assessment tool to discover strengths and weaknesses.
  • Eight Essential Elements: Used alongside ReFocusing and Natural Church Development to help churches understand how they reflect the eight essential elements of a healthy church.
  • Leadership Training Matching Grant: a scholarship grant for Mennonite Brethren seminary students or students in their final year at Bible College.
  • Ministry Advantage: an "in-house" coaching program that connects pastors with other pastors who have been trained as mentors.
  • Eagle's Flight: Trains leaders to run more effective and productive teams. Initially orchestrated by the Canadian Conference Stewardship Representatives.
  • CoachNet: A program that trains coaches to mentor and train others.

*Please note: this list of programs is not exhaustive, but merely highlights some of the larger programs produced by the Canadian Conference.

Key Leaders:

  • Cam Rowland
    • Board of Discipleship Ministries director, 2003–2004/05
    • Director of Church Health and Communication 2005–2008
  • Ewald Unruh
    • Board of Evangelism director, 1994–2002
    • Director of Leadership Development and Evangelism Canada, 2005–2008
    • Director of ReGenerate 21-01/Church Ministries, 2008–2012
  • Dave Jackson
    • Church Health ministries, 2007–2008
    • Church Health director, 2008–2012
    • L2L - Church Health, 2012–present
  • John Neufeld
    • Coach for Emerging Leaders, 2006–2008
  • Cam Priebe
    • Leadership Development ministries, 2009–2011
  • Willy Reimer
    • Leadership Development ministries (mainly Ministry Advantage), 2009–2011
  • Ron Toews
    • Director of Leadership Development/RCDL, 2012–2013
    • Director of L2L, 2014–2017

In 2014, the conference ministries were re-framed as "services" and reorganized around four headings: Building Community, Multiplying Churches, Developing Leaders, and Financial Ministries (renamed Resourcing Ministry in 2016). L2L fit in the Developing Leaders service.

At the 2016 annual general meeting of CCMBC, the delegation approved a motion instructing the executive to reduce the CCMBC budget by 2018 in order to make CCMBC function on monies donated directly from individuals, churches, and provinces--and not supplement these with money drawn from the interest earned from managing investments in the various instruments in the Stewardship Ministries (e.g., deposit fund, RRSP, RRIF, TFSA, endowments). One of the consequences of the CCMBC budget reduction was the termination of the L2L program in December 2017.

Going forward, CCMBC is addressing leadership development through a collaborative model that works with each provincial conference, looking for ways to share resources and skill development among the provinces.

See (click here) 2016 video describing CCMBC's four services model.

To view copies of the convention yearbooks, now published every two years, click here.

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