Sunday, May 19, 2013

Window into World Mission - Big Tent

Window into World Mission

Hope to see you at Big Tent!
It’s not too early to make your plans to attend the World Mission Partner Conference at Big Tent 2013, August 1-3, in Louisville, Kentucky.  The Big Tent combines ten national mission-oriented conferences under one roof, gathering thousands of Presbyterian pastors, elders, and other church leaders to study, share, worship, and fellowship, and to build up the body of Christ.  At Big Tent, you can learn how Presbyterians engage in global mission for collective impact and discover the tools that will help your congregation address poverty, do evangelism, and engage in reconciliation.  You will discover strategies to advocate for, empower, and partner with sisters and brothers throughout the denomination and around the world through mission.

The Power of We:  Collective Impact in God’s Mission
This year’s theme reminds us that although we might be limited in our reach when we try to do mission alone, together we have a collective impact that cannot be shaken.  Whether your group is sophisticated or inexperienced in global mission, you will be informed by others and can share your own tips to success or lessons learned.  You will make surprising and useful connections to other mission leaders nationally and throughout the world.  And, by the end of this intense weekend, you will leave Big Tent energized and informed, and ready to bring World Mission home to your congregation.

To make sure you get your spot at Big Tent, sign up today at:
Also, don’t miss the World Mission pre-conference (August 1, 8 am – 3 pm) featuring key note speaker Dr. Robert Lupton, author of Toxic Charity:  How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It).  Lupton’s presentation will challenge how you think about Mission and will equip you for more effective ministry.   A separate $35 charge, including lunch, supports this program; register as part of your Big Tent registration.


Bruce Whearty
Church Support Associate

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Moving Forward

If the Biblical wilderness narrative in the books of Exodus and Numbers resonates with our experience, what can we learn from it?  In order for the Israelites to go where God was leading them, they had to take a risk, leave their comfort zone, form a new identity, and organization themselves around that new sense of self and purpose. That was a lot of new learning and took them 40 years.  So don't get in a hurry!  The wilderness is scary, frustrating and even painful.  When really pressed, people default to what they know, what they've been trained.  The Israelites knew life in Egypt.  In the wilderness, even slavery looked better to them than dying of thirst and starvation.  They knew how to be slaves.  If they had gone directly forward....likely they would still think of themselves as slaves.  Instead, they became a people of God organized in 12 tribes and oriented by Jacob's family faith story.  They became Israel, a chosen people of God, blessed to share God's blessing.

We Presbyterians also have some learning to do. We have some default settings that aren't working well for us.  We know how to solve problems, form committees, and sit through long meetings.  Many persons now quietly question the purpose of long meetings, and some rebel like freed slaves, choosing to give their time to more purposeful ends.  Recognizing this cultural sea change, the PC(USA) revised our Form of Government, including a new identity. Sessions, Presbyteries, Synods and General Assembly once called governing bodies are now councils.  Councils do not govern but gather to discern God's leading.  Ruling Elders "discern and measure fidelity to the Word of God" (G-2.0202).  Not to the literal proof text, but to God's mission revealed in Christ, the Word.  Another identity shift is from spectator consumers of religion, to disciples of Christ engaged in God's mission where God calls us.

The Leadership Team, at its recent retreat, identified our own personal wilderness journeys.  God has prepared us for this journey.  We pondered our presbytery's wilderness experience and concluded several things.  (1). First, we may be in the wilderness, but we are not intended to stay forever in it.  (2). Second, we claim our purpose and believe "the Presbytery of Lake Michigan's purpose is to challenge, encourage and empower congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ."  Our constitution states that "In Christ, the Church participates in God's mission for the transformation of creation and humanity" (Book of Order F-1.01).  Disciples organize to do that, like salt flavors soup. There's plenty of room for what that might look like where you live AND SERVE.  The local congregation is the locus for making disciples.  The Leadership Team is claiming Presbytery's role of challenging, encouraging and empowering congregations for their role.  (3). Third, we recognized that we have reached a tipping point.  We recognize the proverbial pillar of fire and cloud of smoke, and sense it's time to move. Our journey will be an odyssey of learning and reorienting our governing, consumer, entitlement culture to one of participatory, engaged disciples in action.  We will focus Presbytery's time, attention and resources to this.  Fasten your seat belts.  It's time to move.