“The Mission First! pilot showed us the power of connection and the analysis gave us clarity about action,” said Moderator Sue Morris. “Not only did we learn about the great work being done across the life of the Church, but we also learned that there is a craving for connection.”
Beginning with an idea in 2014 and extending through the 2017 General Assembly, the Mission First! pilot project was a broad experiment. One portion was a different way of doing business for the General Board. Another facet included a grass roots listening component known as Mission Gatherings. During the pilot period the Administrative Committee served as a governing board and a Mission Council was called together to hear the data from more than 80 Mission Gatherings that involved more than 2,600 Disciples from across the United States and Canada.
The 2018 meeting of the General Board in Newton, IA, devoted a large amount of time to the evaluation of the pilot project and what can be learned from the effort.
“I think the discussion provided us with a clear way forward for the next biennium,” said Moderator Elect Belva Brown Jordan, also chair of the Mission First! executive team. “Mission First! led us back to the existing structures to empower them to do the work they were designed to do.”
The Standing Rules of the General Board provide for several committees, three of which will be key in moving forward now that the pilot is concluded. First, the Governance Committee will be taking the recommendations of the General Board and what was learned during the pilot to consider whether adjustments to the rules and/or The Design are needed. Second, the Mission Finance Committee will be meeting regularly to examine how we fund our shared mission across the life of the Church in regions and general ministries. And third, the data from the Mission Gatherings will be shared with the General Minister and President’s Vision Advisory Committee for further analysis.
There was general agreement that the Mission Gatherings across the life of the Church were a point of joy in celebrating the mission that is occurring throughout the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The connection among those who were able to spend several hours together in person was extremely valuable according to many on the General Board. Several suggested that gatherings be scheduled every several years to continue that sense of connection. The work was also inspiration for a planned Mission Fest at the 2019 General Assembly in Des Moines.
The General Board voted to conclude the Mission First! pilot project and in its business item specifically tasked the Governance Committee to submit recommendations useful for the development of the life, mission, work and organization of the Church and tasked the Mission Finance Committee of the General Board to live into its work to ensure adequate resources for all the work of the of the Church. Both groups are due to have a report for the Administrative Committee in late October.