Ohio Conference is engaging in a Year of Mission during 2016-17.
Why a Year of Mission?
The call is ever-present for the church to be focused on God’s saving mission to the world. It is this mission that prompted our Lord, Jesus, to commission the apostles to go into the world, make disciples, baptize, and teach others (Matthew 28:16-20). This mission has been integral to the life of the church throughout history and continues to be so for our ministry as local churches and as a conference today. In pursuing the call to mission together we choose to remain focused on the work God has for us to do in the world and open to partnership with one another.
A Year of Mission will help Ohio Conference congregations cultivate relationship with one another and serve as an integral part of our One-Year Covenant. The Leadership Team proposed the Covenant as a helpful way to give of ourselves to God and to one another (2 Corinthians 8:5). Furthermore, since Ohio Mennonite Conference is a group of congregations dedicated to worship of, faith in and witness for Jesus Christ, a Year of Mission will enable Ohio Mennonite Conference to fulfill its purpose in the following three ways:
- Develop areas in the Conference of missional focus (e.g., church planting).
- Promote greater missional engagement and identity in local Ohio Conference congregations.
- Encourage each member of a local congregation to do mission in his or her own context.
Framework for Mission
Jesus models the best framework for mission in His ministry. Read the following passage from Luke’s gospel with attention to Jesus’ balance of prayer, discipleship, and outreach:
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. — Luke 6:12-19 (NIV)
- The Triangle (Luke 6:12-19)
Jesus models for us a healthy balance of three distinct relationships: the upward relationship he shares with the Father, the inward relationship with the ones he calls to be disciples, and the outward relationship he and the disciples have with the lost and broken world.
- Two-Dimensional Churches
Mike Breen, in his book, Building a Discipling Culture, suggests that churches often fall into two-dimensional patterns of ministry: Up and Inners emphasize gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit, have vibrant worship, focus on conversation with God, support strong small groups and Bible studies, but have a hard time helping outsiders become insiders and reaching out in mission. Up and Outers emphasize the importance of Scripture, have strong teaching ministries, are concerned for reaching out, hold outreach and witnessing seminars, show strong support for local and global missions through giving and sending, but pay little attention to inward care and nurturing relationships in the church. In and Outers stress the importance of incarnational ministry and do a good job of caring for the hurting and lost, but fail to have robust prayer ministries or thorough engagement of Scripture.
- Balancing Ministry for Mission
The best framework for missions is three-dimensional ministry through which the local congregation finds balance.
- Upward elements of congregational life should include missional components in Sunday worship, missional banners or visuals, sharing of missional stories, and prayer for the broader needs of the world.
- Inward elements of congregational life should include missional components in discipleship, sermon series, Sunday school classes, small groups, and education in thinking missionally.
- Outward elements of congregational life should include missional components in outreach, local outreach events, church planting, and social ministry.