Five Alaskan pastors attended the New Church Leadership Institute in Seattle last week. Luther Oconer (Sitka), Judy Shook (Juneau), Jenny Smith (Anchorage), Leila Disburg, and myself. A long time ago I heard a definition of maturity that has stuck with me. "Maturity is realizing that the most important lessons in life are the ones we thought we already knew."
I was surprised that one of the take-away learnings at the NCLI was so simple. Focus on your mission field. You will hear me talk about this at charge conferences which begin this weekend in Fairbanks and Nome. Do you know your mission field? If you live in a small town the city limits may contain the mission field of your church. If you live in a city it might be defined by a major road or a river or mountains.
We are admonished by John Wesley that the world is our parish. I talked with Bishop Hagiya about the notion that our pastors are appointed, not to a local church, but to a community. He wholeheartedly agreed. I invite all of our Alaskan United Methodists to ponder and discuss this question. What would ministry look like if our focus was more on our mission field than inside the walls of our building?
Let's celebrate ALL God is doing in our churches, both inside and outside. And when it comes to our church goals for 2011 let's remember to focus on our mission field as we make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.
Grace and peace,