During our second Indiana Annual Conference session, we once again sent forth more than 600 United Methodists to participate in a Saturday afternoon of Mission Outreach projects across Muncie. Once again, our people reported having a great experience, and once again, we United Methodists received much notice and appreciation from the community.

At the celebration worship service that same evening, I preached on the multiplication of the fish and loaves in John 6:1-13, and challenged the participants to multiply our experience of Mission Outreach. At the time, I was thinking we might sponsor several such Mission Outreach events across Indiana during the next 12 months, perhaps with video and personal witness reporting at next year’s annual conference session. I pictured either regional or district events, where we United Methodists might multiply those hundreds of participants into thousands of participants – thus making a greater impact across our whole state than what we currently do in local mission outreach.

At the summer planning retreat of our cabinet and conference directors, those leaders helped me to see an even larger picture of multiplication. Instead of three or four regional events across Indiana, perhaps we could hold events in all 10 of our districts. What if we challenged our 185 ministry clusters to each have a time of Mission Outreach in each of their areas of the state? Perhaps not all 185 clusters of congregations will choose to participate, but what if three-fourths or even just half do? Then instead of five or ten events, we could have 80 or 100 or even 120 such events. Wow, what an impact that could make in our state! What a unifying and team-building activity that would be for our ministry clusters.

So, here is our challenge to all of the 185 ministry clusters: We (the cabinet, directors and I) are going to plan and participate in a Mission Outreach event during the next 11 months, and we challenge each ministry cluster to do the same. Learn about your own community; study the needs; work with your local agencies, which are already helping people, find out how your presence can encourage them. Then, plan a Mission Outreach event, encourage many of your church members to participate and discover the team-building and joy of helping others.

We also ask that you take some digital images or videos of your Mission Outreach event to be shared at our next Indiana Annual Conference session. Tell us your stories of what happens, how lives are touched, and how your own people are blessed by reaching out to others. Let this conference year 2010-2011 be a time, when all across Indiana, we have United Methodists engaged personally in Mission Outreach to our local communities.

If you need help planning or implementing such a Mission Outreach event, our conference staff and district leaders stand ready to help you. If you need demographic information about your community, talk to any of our Church Development staff. If you are not sure where to start, start by praying together as a ministry cluster asking God to show you the needs in your area.

Let’s multiply – really multiply – the wonderful Mission Outreach experiences of our past two annual conference sessions.

Let’s show everyone – including our own United Methodists – what it means to say: “The church has left the building.” Let’s multiply our Mission Outreach.

Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church
“Making a Difference in Indiana and around the world”

For more information about organizing a Mission Outreach in your community, visit www.inumc.org/rethinkchurch and click on Impact Community Event Planner Workbook and similar resources.

What if we challenged our 185 ministry clusters to each have a time of Mission Outreach in each of their areas of the state?