Mapping Our Way in Missions


    I heard a (newer) member of the church say recently that she felt like she had grown closer to God since joining our community. That was music to my ears; one of my primary goals as a pastor is to foster spiritual growth. I am committed to helping each one of you to grow in your relationship with God.
    But she followed that remark with the observation that she didn’t really know how to get involved with any of the church missions. She was unclear about how to take that step.
    I understand her confusion. We have lots of mission projects, but they are a bit disconnected and disparate.
    Over the last couple of years, our church has taken significant steps in becoming more and more mission-oriented. We have been slowly reorienting our gaze outward rather than inward. We have fostered a number of new ministries through the formation of Catalyst Groups; we have bolstered the work we do with some long-standing organizations, like the Hillcrest House and The Well; and we have continued supporting other United Methodist projects.
    All this mission energy has been good for us. But it has also been a little disorienting, as this young member expressed. Some of you have complained to me that it feels like we do a little bit too much, that we have our hands in too many different projects. Others have said they would like to go deeper in their particular ministries, lack the tools and resources to make it happen.
    This spring, I will offer a class after Wednesday Night dinners to reorient our sense of mission. This class is open to all, and it will be the only class for adults on Wednesday nights, because I would like as many of you as possible to attend.
    I’m calling it “Mission Action Planning,” or MAP, for short. I've constructed it as a kind of primer on mission work. I'll talk about why mission work is important for the church, as well as what to do and what not to do when helping people. Some of the lessons are more theological and Biblical; others are more sociological and psychological. We’ll meet for 12 weeks, and you’re welcome to attend all or any particular session. I’m planning to cover the following topics:

What it Means to be a Missional Church
Being Present: Learning to Be in the Mission Field
Building Relationships: The Core of Mission
Cross-Cultural Competencies
Beyond “Helping”: Learning to Do Justice
Decolonizing Mission
Embracing a Missional Theology
Practicing a Contemplative Spirituality
Short-Term Trips/Long-Term Results
Releasing Outcomes
How to Form a Catalyst Group
The Role of the Mission Committee

    Some of the material might sound familiar to those who have been through Catalyst Training, and there will be some overlap. However, I’m adding new material, and changing much of what I have already taught. Plus we’ll have some guest presenters. You’ll find this to be a helpful refresher course in “how to do mission right,” as I like to put it.    
    The first class takes place after dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 6:30 pm, and will last for an hour. Please come and participate as we “MAP” out our missions, and learn how to effect creative change in our world.