Our Extended Cabinet team of 14 District Superintendents, Directors and a couple of spouses has just returned from our trip to Mission Guatemala. That ministry is led by Rev. Tom Heaton, a clergy member of our Indiana Conference who began this mission work just four and a half years ago. Already that ministry has grown into several communities, helping provide health, nutrition and education for some of the poorest people in Guatemala. Our team visited ministry sites, worked hard on a couple of projects and learned from the passion, creativity and energy of Mission Guatemala. Truly Mission Guatemala is helping to transform the world in the name of Christ.
During one of our daily devotional times on our trip, Jennifer Gallagher, our conference treasurer, observed: "We need to be Mission Indiana when we get home." We all agreed. We are not sure what all that means, but we sense this is our role as conference servant leaders:
- We need to see Indiana as a mission field, even to realize that Indiana is a land that is underdeveloped spiritually, as much as Guatemala is an underdeveloped country.
- We want to help every appointed pastor to see his/her appointment as an assignment to a community and not just to a church.
- We hope that every congregation will see itself as a mission station to serve others, and not as a religious club where the members expect to be pampered.
- We are ready, as the Extended Cabinet, to lead the way, to model a new sense of being on a mission for God and to seek nothing less than a transformed Indiana.
Our mission remains the same: "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." That mission begins with each of us, and it extends to Mission Indiana.
"Imagine Indiana" helped us to form a new Conference over the past five years, and so "Mission Indiana" may be the next logical step. Indeed our Annual Conference sessions the past two years have already focused upon the themes "Be a World Changer" and "The Outwardly-Focused Church." Our theme this year will be "Sharing Our Story." Many churches and many of our pastors and people have already caught this vision of being a church on a mission, making disciples and transforming the world.
Maybe it is time to release those who don't want to be part of a mission movement – allowing them to go in peace. Maybe it is time to close any church which is not making disciples or reaching its community – and use those assets to start new ministries. Maybe it is time for us to help any pastor who is not "all-in for our mission" to leave with dignity and with support to find another career. Maybe it is time to get serious about our mission and to become Mission Indiana.
I invite you to think and pray about this, to consider whether or not you are "in," and to discuss this in your congregation, cluster, and clergy covenant group. Are you ready to be a part of Mission Indiana?