Sunday, October 26, 2014

Helpers at the Crossroads of Congregation & Missio Dei

My new job has me working with United Methodist congregations as a missions strategist. It's an incredible time to be in mission as the work of God is both local and global. Our opportunity is to join up with this movement in the new fresh wave of the Kingdom which is taking place around the world. For a congregation this means the opportunity to follow Christ in all sorts of exciting ways in any number of 125 locations.

Mission is an exhilarating venture as the missionaries and ministers and baptized believers involved are as diverse as all the ethnic groups in those 125 countries. This new way of mission is more than just funding. It's more than just study and prayer. It's more than just projects a team may carry out in a visit.  

This mission of God involves a new dynamic of relationships, activities, and partnerships. More than a mission sending agency, both the NGUMC Connectional Ministries office & UMC's Global Ministries offer the opportunity to help a congregation, district, or conference become more effective in mission in ways which are transformational for those who serve and those who are being served. I join two gifted teams eager to assist congregations in this vital task of our generation to share true Good News in word and deed in many, many communities and countries.

What is your role in God's mission today? How might I best encourage, equip, and support you and your congregation in this high calling? Watch for exciting news throughout the next few weeks as I begin that exploration with many followers of Christ who are also on the journey as mission leaders!

See God's Mission Is Global to learn more and be sure to watch for updates...

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Week in My New Mission Post

I've finished two weeks and a day in my new mission post. What a wild, wonderful ride!

Here are some of the things I've learned, or learned again, along the Way this week:

1) The love and support of those you've previously served is a great foundation for the next challenge.

2) Conference office staff know how to throw a welcome party and extend hospitality.

3) North Georgia communities and churches are wonderfully diverse.

4) How much time was spent in the past on navigation and frustration before we had electronic navigators who would tell us where to turn?

5) Thank goodness the Voice will guide us when we get lost or misplaced!

6) Music is a wonderful, soothing way to endure ATL traffic.

7) Conversations about mission and ministry with future orientation and discovery are a lot of fun.

8) To be something of a circuit riding mission guy who asks to sleep in a church is an interesting way to learn.

9) It is a wonderful thing to be dependent on more people and to be in a shared ministry that offers richer experience of the Connection and the Kingdom.

10) It's great to be home to rest and reflect before it's time to ride again!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mission & Outreach in North Georgia & Beyond

Well, I'm a week and a day into my new appointment working with the Connectional Ministries of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church (60% of my time- focus on Bridges, mission effectiveness for conference, districts, and congregations) and focus on Mission Celebrations and mission strategy in a congregation for UMC Global Ministries (40% of my time). I went from serving Trinity on the Hill UMC in Augusta on Tuesday, September 30, and enjoying a half day off after my "good bye" lunch, to getting settled in the Conference office on Wednesday with a Connectional Ministries staff retreat at Camp Glisson on Thursday. I enjoyed Friday & Saturday back in Augusta getting some things settled from my old office into my home, working on some ideas and contacts, plus enjoyed some time with my family and cutting the grass and taking care of "home" work.

Sunday offered opportunity to worship at Wesley UMC in Evans (I hadn't worshiped in their new sanctuary before, hadn't been there for worship since hearing Glenn Ethridge many years ago, and had never heard Adam Hilderbrandt preach until Sunday) and then packed and had the late afternoon drive to Simpsonwood to be ready for a week of intensive training.

This week I have been in coaching training. I'm part of the CAST Fast Track group with a 40 hour immersion this week. We've had instruction, practice, and supervision in Coach Approach Skill Training with Rev. Chris Holmes & George Casey. Chris co-wrote the curriculum with George Howard. This has been a strong week for me due to the phenomenal leaders and participants paired up with excellent content.

I must confess I was originally a little suspicious, and maybe even skeptical about this coaching stuff. I knew it was a fad a few years back, and fads tend to make me uneasy as they are often shallow, personality driven, and lacking skill development. I couldn't have been more wrong. The reading, interactions, and depth of training have really exceeded my expectations. I rarely say such a thing. Like many folk, I tend to "get what I can get" out of any experience and expect some training may cause me to work harder to find any gold. Or aluminum. Or anything of use. This was a very, VERY different experience than I expected and I'm grateful for it.

Rather quickly I realized there is a lot I can gain from someone who can help me in my thinking and action, who is safe to bounce ideas off of, who can encourage me and challenge me, who can hold me accountable even as they move me to action, and who I trust for confidentiality and genuine deep interest in my needs as they work with me personally or might assist me and my team. The exercises were practical, absolutely not role play, and based in my/our own practical, real life situations.  

I've still got to put hours in by coaching and by being coached, but I can tell this is launching me into my new job/s in a significant way. I've got one more day of training this week, yet I've already been coached in ways that will make me more effective in my thinking, my performance with groups, my leadership, and my overall personal and professional life. I've found this to be very holistic as it meets the needs I have and addresses the areas where I asked a coach for assistance.

So, if you would like to be coached to become more effective in mission and ministry and life, or want more information to decide about getting your own training in coaching, I'd be glad to talk with you. Or you can talk to a number of other clergy friends from North GA, TN, NC, NJ, and MO who were at our training and had similar experiences to mine. I'm looking forward to being coached and making myself available to coach others in ways that lead to transformation and action.

And who knows how exciting my next week of work will be?!

Blessings, Scott