By Cindy Wiles, GCPN Executive Director
January 2008 has been a great month of fellowship, conversation and collaborative effort among our network churches. I am grateful for the efforts of the ministers of missions, pastors and others who gathered for the recent Forum for Sending Churches and the GCPN Pastors’ Retreat. Through these fruitful discussions, we were able to identify three primary needs of our network churches:
1- Strategic Guidance and Structure
Churches desiring to do effective mission work understand that doing strategic missions requires an understanding of what God is doing in the world. It also requires the guidance of informed leaders who can help churches connect to what God is doing. One goal of the GCPN network churches is to enable mission strategists and missiologists to have a voice and presence among our churches as we make decisions about missions and specific missions initiatives. In addition, we are working to identify or develop 12 regional GCPN Strategy Teams around the world to assist churches in making strategic connections, placing their people on the field, encouraging indigenous movements and assisting with integration and care of our sent-ones.
While you are thinking about what your church is doing, also be thinking about what THE CHURCH is doing.
2- Missional Formation
What fills the formation gap that exists between missions education (like Perspectives) and preparedness for being sent? GCPN leadership is convinced that it is an intentional church-based formational community within each of our local network churches.
In response to this essential need, we are focusing our efforts on a missional formation learning experience that allows individuals preparing for cross-cultural service to live out their formation in their home-church community. This facilitator-led experience uses a comprehensive series of 33 learning sessions, each focusing on a relevant formative need. Participants combine personal study and journaling with interactive community learning in such a way that the individuals and the church are led through a joint transformation that raises the overall missional competency of the congregation. The formation series is intended to be lived out over approximately a one-year period meeting weekly with a community of church-based participants. The materials will be downloadable from the GCPN website for use by network churches. Two trained facilitators from the local church will lead the community groups through the transformational experience. Written by missions experts from around the world, the materials are scheduled to be available to churches in the spring of 2008.
3- Collaborative Giving
If local churches are training, funding and sending their own people, why is there a need for a collaborative giving effort? We must maintain what is beautiful and Biblical about collaboration. As we work toward providing a global strategic structure that will benefit all of our churches, we will establish hubs for shared training, missionary assessment and care, and strategic guidance.
While I am focusing on what MY church is doing, I will be wise to consider the big picture and assist in providing a strategic framework for all.
Additionally, the New Testament collaborative concept of sharing the financial responsibility for sending should prod us toward jointly making funds available to other churches that may need assistance and partnership in sending.
As we work together, gaps can be filled and the Kingdom can be expanded. Think Kingdom. Think together. Think about how your church can fuel the works of God around the world.
I am praying for you and your church!