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Mission First – A New Way of Being Disciples

At our recent General Assembly in Columbus, General Minister and President Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins introduced us to Mission First, a new way of looking at mission and what we are doing as Disciples.


Addressing the 2014 General Board, General Minister and President Sharon Watkins set out a challenge:  “The time has come to lighten our load and tighten our focus – on mission!  I am inviting our church, in all its expressions, to join in a conversation on God’s mission for Disciples today.” (audio of address) (2014 Communique – PDF)

Since General Board, a group of Disciples from many professional and cultural backgrounds has been meeting about just how to find this new focus. The proposal called Mission First! was presented to the General Board in April 2015. It includes a call to mission and a pilot model for helping us identify a common direction in mission.

What Is Mission First?

Mission First! addresses the need to find a new shared focus in mission. We are not setting aside pro-reconciliation/anti-racism, new and transforming churches or leadership development. Mission First! seeks to help Disciples identify the next mission priorities God has for us as we move toward the year 2020 and beyond.

At the heart of this process are Mission Gatherings where we hope you and your leaders will participate in sharing what your congregation is passionate about doing in the mission field. These gatherings may take place at your 2016 regional or racial/ethnic assemblies or at camp or other places where Disciples gather. A Church-wide Mission Council will receive the information from the gatherings and identify a mission focus for a specified time.

Moving forward in this way would call for reorganization of our general church governance structures, so Watkins is asking for a provisional try – a trial run up until 2017. Based on what we learn, we would anticipate making some permanent changes at the 2017 assembly.

Here is Sharon’s address from General Assembly, which provides a deeper explanation of this new initiative.  You can also sign up for a Mission Gathering here.

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