Called to Be Great

Ruth Burgner

Ruth Burgner

By Ruth Burgner-

Just a few weeks prior to General Conference, another gathering of United Methodists convened in Florida. In three church locations, key leaders studied the biblical basis for missions and learned how to develop a mission outreach plan for their congregations.

This one-day seminar, hosted by The Mission Society, is the beginning of a much longer process. Among other things, it included coaching for congregations as they plan a “Global Impact Celebration,” a weekend for churches to celebrate what God is doing through them – locally, regionally, internationally.

The Rev. Carolyn Moore enlisted her own congregation in this process several years ago, which may have seemed odd. Her church was already enthusiastically involved in missions. That’s why what happened was something she never expected.

A sought-after speaker and writer, Moore is the pastor of Mosaic Church, a church she planted in 2004 in Evans, Georgia. With a weekly worship attendance of about 200, Mosaic has seen more than 150 baptisms and professions of faith.

“Many of our folks have had no experience of church or a bad experience of church. Some are felons or recovering addicts,” Moore says, “but their encounter with Christ has left them grateful and enthusiastic. The people of Mosaic like to serve people, and I was encouraging them. Our members were doing a thousand different things, and our outreach was a mile wide and an inch deep. We began to realize our problem was not that we didn’t do missions. Our problem was that we did too much of it, and we did it poorly.”

Through the training and coaching, The Mission Society taught her church how to focus. For example, Mosaic had been engaged with a local low-to-no income apartment complex for adults with disabilities. Church members would play bingo with the residents and do other activities that felt more like social work than discipleship. Through the training, the church learned to become more strategic in its mission outreach.

Moore reports that church members began to realize that in that apartment complex “we were connecting and being loving, but we really weren’t taking seriously the call to make disciples of Jesus Christ.” So the church partnered with Action Ministries, an organization much more qualified to handle the social work side of things, leaving the church more available to be “spiritual encouragers.”

“We added Bible studies, and we added more worship, and we added more opportunities for our people to go and pray with people,” Moore said. At the time of her recounting this story, one of the residents had just come to her and said, “I’m ready to be baptized.” Says Moore, “This is what happens when you focus.”

Mosaic began to financially give more to mission partners (an increase of 700 percent in the year following their first Global Impact Celebration) and to think about international missions, something her congregation had been reticent to consider before. Now mission teams go out from her church to Haiti and India and are considering a vision trip to Panama this year.

Churches who have partnered with The Mission Society in this process see an increased vibrancy for mission and ministry, and they even see an upturn in finances. In fact, a recent study of 10 big and small church reportings show anywhere from a 138 percent to a 3,300 percent increase in mission giving.

“We are just a little church,” says Moore. “What difference does it make if our congregation focuses on strategic missions? It has made a big difference in making disciples in our church and in communities locally, regionally, and internationally.

“What you freely receive, you freely give,” she says. “This gospel is not ours, but it is ours to share. We have been called to be inconvenienced for the sake of the gospel. God has not called us to be comfortable. He has called us to be great. The scripture is our guide: ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:6, ESV).

Ruth A. Burgner is The Mission Society’s senior communications director (missionsociety.org) 678-542-9046.

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