The Office of Connectional Ministries recently held a staff retreat to review its mission and vision, the conference district reduction, and invite visionary thinking regarding future programming and conference support.
We utilized the book “A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Ministry” by Peter Steinke to open the staff retreat and center our thoughts. The result was a rich discussion incorporating the voices of the entire staff. The following is an excerpt from the book from each staff person:
Abra Lattany-Reed, Associate Director
Chapter 2: Emotional Systems and New Anxiety
No matter what shift, transition or process we face - hope enables to see the new opportunities that await us. And as people of faith - the synonym of change is hope. We are willing to take risk and dream because we believe in tomorrow and want to be part it.
Anne Packard, Administrative Assistant
Chapter Four: The Challenge of Change
Change will not advance very far or last very long if the challenge of change is not understood and handled adequately.
But saying, “We want to change,” and actually changing are entirely different matters. Transformation begins with endings. Death comes to the system in some form.
In Transforming Mission it is reported that the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20, was not understood to be primarily about mission until the early 1800s. In the original Greek the mandate was not “Go!” but the particle “going.” The translation would be “as you go.” As you live, as you go about your daily work, as you move on the new settings for service, as you join or create new communities of discipleship, as you fulfill your vocation as a follower of Jesus you shall be a witness. .
Kelly Roberson, Director of Communications
Chapter 5: The Making of a Mission Culture
Mission is the nature and purpose of the church, not some list of qualifiers. Mission is the church sent into the world to love, to serve, to preach, to teach, to heal and to liberate.
When people or things come together, it is to accomplish more, to create something new, and to discover fresh possibilities.
When a congregation makes a significant change by associating that change with mission, there is far less resistance to that change. In the reverse, when the change is not connected to mission it is easily sabotaged or emotionally resisted. It would make sense, then, to raise the congregations's mission consciousness before embarking on a major shift.
Kara Witherow, Editor, South Georgia Advocate
Chapter 6: Joining God’s New Creation
If our hope is in the gospel, understanding it will help us reframe our mission as followers of Jesus.
Our salvation is not just about us and heaven isn’t some far-off, distant reality we’ll eventually get to experience. Our salvation is not just for us, but for the world and how God intends to redeem it. Through our salvation, we are invited to become agents of God’s creative, redemptive work and help bring about heaven on earth.
The Christian life is so much more than one person’s long-term survival. It is about the world’s future; it is about our hope turning our heads and hearts toward the world.
Cathy Crawford, Administrative Assistant
Chapter Eight: Where to Touch the Elephant
Everyone “touches” the elephant in different spots. As we touch the part, we have our own thoughts of what our spot represents.
What part of the overall mission does your part represent?
Is your spot the only correct spot? Is the next person’s spot not just as important to them as yours is to you? We touch different parts and we may disagree but how we handle these disagreements will make the difference.
Clashes, disagreements, are results of rising anxiety. The conflict has little to do with where we are touching the elephant. It is about how we handle our emotions. We must learn to have a mature response even in disagreement, “I don’t agree, but the mission takes precedence over my self-interest.”
I hope you have a sense of the diversity involved in this discussion. Many voices, different roles, different responsibilities but each person clear about the mission. In the midst of change, there is hope. As we conclude this summer reading and move forward into the district reduction, I offer this final thought:
Hope is a concrete invitation to act in adventurous ways. God has set the door open…let’s walk through the door with courage to face all the opportunities and challenges.
Our hope is built on nothing less,