UMR Focus Groups
This past month around the UMR we have held state level focus groups for our pastors and church boards facilitated by Cam Roxburgh and Scott Hagley. (NAB/Forge Canada) Last year as we began this focus group resourcing together, we looked at the theme of "Loving God with all of our Heart" and specifically brainstormed ways that inadvertently we tend to create consumers in our churches instead of missionaries. This year, we built on that discuss as we looked at the issues of "Loving God with all of our Strength" as well as "Loving our Neighbor and our Neighborhoods". As church leaders we realize that we must transition our churches from being primarily buildings to attract people to, and shift more into being sending stations that empower church members to be effective representatives of Jesus in our neighborhoods and workplaces. This is not to minimize our desire to do our best with our church programming for those that may visit from our communities, but only to realize that a vast majority of people in our culture will never visit a church on their own initiative, no matter how great the programming may be. Therefore, to join God on his mission in our world, we must begin to see ourselves more like missionaries on duty being sent from our churches than members of an organization coming together for a corporate gathering. This is a significant shift in ministry strategies for many of our churches, and if we are honest, a challenge to each of us as individual Christ followers.
Each state had a good mix of pastors and lay leaders that were able to interact together on these vital topics for each of our local churches. We pray that as each of our churches embrace the opportunity to join God on His mission in our neighborhoods, that we will continue to increase our community impact for eternity. As our local churches are healthy and on mission, our region will also remain strong.
Thank you for your role in your local church to join God on his outreach mission in your sphere of influence. Jodi and I are blessed to partner with you as we join God together.
"On March 1st I travelled with 4 of my leaders to the UMR focus group in Kankakee, IL. Cam Roxborough led with skill and passion, guiding us to a deeper understanding of what a missional ministry looks like. We left with a renewed passion to join God on His mission of redeeming humanity. We also grasped a broader understanding of mission as we considered the 3 commandments of Scripture (Loving God, Loving Neighbor and Loving One Another). As leaders, we've continued the discussion and have put it on our agenda to prayerfully study these commands and evaluate how we are discipling others toward this kind of life. We appreciate the work of Cam, Tim Blackburn and the UMR in making this opportunity available."
- Jim Renke, Pastor, Village Green Baptist
"The four of us that were a part of the UMR Meetings on March 8th really enjoyed the input from Cam Roxburg.
One said that, "The main idea of the day to me was centered around how we can become involved with our neighbors. The saying 'Bloom where you are planted came to my mind.' The concept, which I agree with, is that God is working in the lives of some of our contacts unbeknown to us. We do not always need to evangelize in the traditional sense of pushing an agenda with steps they must take to faith, but rather come alongside of them in our daily activities to minister to whatever needs they may have. Maybe it is just visiting with them in the yard or giving emotional support in trying times, or helping with some project. Some of us fear using a "come to Christ now" approach because of the pain of rejection. So, we need to worry less about what WE can do and rely more on finding what GOD may be doing in their lives already."
Another said, "Even though I have thought of myself as a missionary for many years, I was taken back to think of my witness being hurt by my hurried life. I liked his statement that we hurry to do the work we don't trust God to get done. That is convicting."
And finally another said, "Cam made the statement, 'I Am less concerned about inviting them to church and more concerned about inviting them to Jesus.' That is a convicting statement because while inviting people to church and inviting people to Jesus are both important the first priority and motivation of our lives needs to be centered around helping people meet Jesus."
Howard Anderson, Pastor, Hunters Ridge Community
"As we have reflected upon our time at the UMR-Iowa focus group there are several things that have emerged. First, was the new perspective the presenter, Scott Hagley, gave to missions. Second, was the key aspect of relationships. If we are to be missional, we must be relational. Our relationships with those from different viewpoints can grow into opportunities for conversations of faith. The event brought about a good chance to visit with people from other churches during the discussion times, yet still allowed much time for focused conversation about our own town and neighborhoods. We came away challenged and blessed."
Pastor Elton LaBree on behalf of the Aplington Baptist Church leadership
(PS Thanks to Calvary Baptist for the wonderful meal! I plan to go back for more pie!)