There are three main strategic priorities developed in our document. They are Creating World Transforming Communities of Faith, Equipping Ourselves and Others as Transformational Leaders, and Directing our Resources to Our Common Goals. I am going to take one post per priority to look at what I see its strengths and weaknesses. The first priority I will be looking at is Creating World Transforming Communities of Faith. The strategy behind this priority appears to be two pronged.
The first prong of Creating World Transforming Communities of Faith is through establishing new communities of faith. The document lists three specific steps towards this priority starting with using demographic resources to help discern opportunities for ministry and outreach. Partnerships will be formed with area congregations, with the goal of launching new ministries and communities of faith. The stories that come from these partnerships will be shared and told to others to inspire and to teach.
The second prong of the Creating World Transforming Communities of Faith priority is by increasing vitality in existing communities of faith. Every community of faith will be expected to discern how they plan to create disciples and transform the world in their own context. The Iowa Annual Conference will create and strengthen opportunities for hands on mission, and service t o the poor by an increase of 25%. The ministry cabinet will develop and implement urban and rural ministry strategies that include poor and marginalized persons so as to better advocate for peace and justice. The final step will be raising $2,000,000 for Imagine No Malaria to save 200,000 lives. When I look at this priority I agree that it needs to be accomplished through at least these two methods.
One of the strengths that jump out to me in this document, is the utilization of partnerships to create new communities. If we are able to work together, there is a much better chance of creating something that lasts. Areas where I see this possibly bearing fruit include our refugee and minority ministries. There are many churches in place that seem to have gone stagnant and revitalizing them seems to be the most efficient way to begin Creating World Transforming Communities of Faith.
For me, relationships are at the heart of Creating World Transforming Communities of Faith. I do not believe that we are addressing this effectively in the church. We seem to be stuck with a desire for a cookie cutter solution that comes from on high. We give lip service to the”local context” but the Ministry Cabinet is charged with developing and implementing strategies, isn’t that the model that led us to this place we find ourselves today. I agree that many people are transformed through “mission” work, but we know transformation comes from many places.
I understand that Imagine No Malaria is a practical way to change the world that we live. I love the support and the emphasis that the Iowa Annual Conference and the United Methodist Church has placed on this opportunity. However, it appears to be a “throw in” here, by that I mean we were not sure where it fit, but we wanted to make sure it was in the final document. For me, it would fit better in the section regarding Directing our Resources to Our Common Goals.
Overall, these are very important strategies that need to be fleshed out more. I feel there is benefit from projects such as this where people share and discuss their goals for this Conference. I would like us to explore new ways of church that are not tied to traditional geographic boundaries, ways that utilize the social media resources we are surrounded by today. I want us to begin Creating World Transforming Communities of Faith through facilitating conversations and in our participating in groups that desire solutions and cooperation. We have something to offer the world, it is my hope that we can find ways to share what we have in traditional and comfortable ways, while at the same time finding newer and more creative ways to share.