The MB church I was a member of for approximately 25 years (until just a few years ago) is a supporter of Trever and Joan Godard who are operating the Matthew Training Center in Guadalajara, Mexico. In fact they were in our community several weekends ago attending the Thanksgiving Celebration at the local MB church.
The Godards attended The Mark Centre just this past September, which provides spiritual retreats where the stated mission is, "Leading people to intimate places with God where his voice can be heard", and the overriding goal, "Serving thousands who will inspire millions to embrace a lifestyle of listening to God". Two of the features offered at the center are "Spiritual Direction Opportunities", and a "Complementary Listening Experience" with the following description:
"We offer our guests a complimentary 30min listening experience. This is a session with a MARK Centre staff member who leads you through a "Lectio Divina", a scripture reading practice that invites you to meet God personally and receive from him."1.
To read about the roots of "spiritual direction", click HERE.
A movie posted on The Mark Centre website depicts a man reading Dallas Willard's book Hearing God. Dallas Willard is also part of the Contemplative Spirituality movement.
For more on Dallas Willard's involvement in the movement, click HERE.
For a book review of Hearing God, click HERE.
It is obvious that The Mark Centre is promoting an experiential, contemplative, mystical spirituality. I am sad to say that Harold and Dorothy Siebert, who also have connections to the community I live in, are now working there as resident volunteer hosts. As I predicted several years ago, the contemplative movement is spreading far and wide, and has taken deep root in the MB Conference. If you haven't encountered it yet, just wait a little while, you will! I am, however, still finding hard to believe it has come so quickly to our quiet little community. I considered the MB church here to be one of the final frontiers!
The influence of The Mark Centre appears to be rubbing off on MB missionaries. This is a key retreat center for Canadian MB missionaries. The Matthew Training Center in Mexico, operated by Trever and Joan Godard, Canadian MB missionaries who recently attended The Mark Centre, has included the statement, "We believe in cultivating a lifestyle of spiritual disciplines" in their core values on the page containing the Matthew Training Center Philosophy. The "spiritual disciplines" are just another name for methods of "growing closer to Jesus" which include contemplative practices.
When evaluating a movement, such as the contemplative/spiritual formation/spiritual disciplines movement, it is important to remember the obvious: movements have leaders, they have a background and they are heading somewhere (what I call roots, shoots and fruits, and those who plant, cultivate and water them).
These are the questions that every Mennonite Brethren needs to ask: "What is the background of this movement, who are its leaders, and where is it heading?"
There is enough evidence to be found amongst other groups who have been involved in this movement for a much longer time to show where it is headed - ecumenicalism, interfaithism and interspirituality - a dangerous spiritual path, to be certain. By examining these groups, and the commonalities between them and what is currently being accepted by the Mennonite Brethren Conference and MBMSI, it is clear that they are one and the same.
Additional reading on the topic (which also explains the link between contemplative prayer and lectio divina): Contemplating The Alternative by Carol Brooks