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.
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.
At the heart of this process are Mission Gatherings where we hope you and your leaders will participate in sharing what your congregation is passionate about doing in the mission field. These gatherings may take place at your 2016 regional or racial/ethnic assemblies or at camp or other places where Disciples gather. A Church-wide Mission Council will receive the information from the gatherings and identify a mission focus for a specified time.
Moving forward in this way would call for reorganization of our general church governance structures, so Watkins is asking for a provisional try – a trial run up until 2017. Based on what we learn, we would anticipate making some permanent changes at the 2017 assembly.