Mission Reset and New Vision
by Kathye Hamm
I am not sure if there is one person or organization who could really predict what would happen to church, businesses, families, our nation and the world after this pandemic. For some of those who are figuring out how to be prepared for the future, they see what is happening today as a Great Reset, whatever that means from the specific setting or lens they are coming from. And we as a denomination committed to mission continue to discern possible new opportunities where God is leading us. If we try to figure out what “reset” may mean for our ministry, or discern ways to adapt effectively so that we continue to be and do what we are called for, I wonder what areas our congregational leaders are looking into. In our work together to develop new starts, I have worked with a few small groups of church leaders who pioneer the conversations and vision for new church plants in this synod. In our prayerful discernment, we have been using these seven areas in the discernment that I think could be also useful in the light of the unknown and future of our mission and ministry today. These critical areas are: Area Potential, Compelling Vision, Clear Ministry Plan, Able Leadership, Contextual Model, Adequate Resources, Good Support Mechanisms. Together with the pioneer team/mission partners and the Witness Discipling Team, we ask questions pertaining to these areas to go deeper and wider in the discernment and proceed to recommend action. In this journey it is also important to hear voices beyond these groups, especially trusting that God is already at work in the lives of those in the potential neighborhood, and listening carefully to the Spirit through the prayers and voices of those in the community.
I wonder if these areas would also be helpful to our congregations and mission partners, prayerfully discerning how their communities would look rising up from the midst of the pandemic and other challenges that became more prominent during this major global and local event. If so, what questions would you ask pertaining to these areas, as you discern and adapt as the church you are called to be? How are you (re)defining community following Jesus’ way, as you walk and live through this pandemic and towards the future? How are you seeing and experiencing your neighbors in new ways during shelter in place? Are there innovative ways to be a church today? What are they? What can we learn from one another?
All of these discerning questions are grounded on our baptismal covenant and gifts of discipleship: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
The Witness Discipling Team and the churchwide Congregational Vitality Team thrive in learning and trusting that we are composed of communities of Jesus, nurturing and inviting life changing relationship with God, with one another, and our neighbors (and the world).
So I wonder, what are the questions you ask as you adapt, take risks and thrive during the pandemic and other cross-cutting issues we are facing more like systemic racism and economic inequality? What other areas of ministry would you consider beyond the seven areas mentioned above that have been helpful to you? What innovative ways are coming up in your mission and ministry nowadays?
We may not know exactly what the future looks like and yet we can claim that we are gathered, empowered and sent by the Holy One!
Tita Valeriano, Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop
September 22, 2020
September 15, 2020
September 08, 2020