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What is Mission First all about?

It’s likely your faith community has done some visioning in the last few years. The general expression of the Church is doing the same. As the year 2020 nears, it is time to listen for God’s continuing call and to seek together where God is calling Disciples next in our shared mission and ministry.

Addressing the 2014 General Board, General Minister and President Sharon Watkins set out a challenge:  “The time has come to lighten our load and tighten our focus – on mission!  I am inviting our church, in all its expressions, to join in a conversation on God’s mission for Disciples today.(audio of address) (2014 Communique – PDF)

Since General Board, a group of Disciples from many professional and cultural backgrounds has been meeting about just how to find this new focus. The proposal called Mission First! was presented to the General Board in April 2015. It includes a call to mission and a pilot model for helping us identify a common direction in mission.

Mission First! addresses the need to find a new shared focus in mission. We are not setting aside pro-reconciliation/anti-racism, new and transforming churches or leadership development. Mission First! seeks to help Disciples identify the next mission priorities God has for us as we move toward the year 2020 and beyond.

At the 2017 General Assembly in Indianapolis, a report of progress was presented during the Monday business session. This video kicked off the report.

A short history

Watch Sharon Watkins’ State of the Church’s Mission from the 2015 General Assembly describing how Mission First! will help Disciples find our mission focus.

Read this Mission First! Bible study to get oriented


At the heart of this process were Mission Gatherings where leaders participated in sharing what your congregation is passionate about doing in the mission field. A Church-wide Mission Council received the information in December 2016 to identify a mission focus for a specified time.

The General Board received a report at the spring 2017 meeting where they determined the Mission First governance structure and the current General Board structure would operate concurrently through the next two years with a full report coming to the 2019 General Assembly in Des Moines, IA, July 20-24.