In my opinion, leadership from my office means three things: First, to understand our congregations and see where the Holy Spirit is inspiring good ministry. Second, to name and celebrate that good ministry. Third, connect the good ministry of individual congregations to one another and thus help move it to a higher level of energy and commitment. Leadership from the Presbytery means finding out what we do best and helping us to do it better, together. Am I allowed to lead?
Clearly, in my experience so far with this presbytery, what our congregations do very, very well is mission work. Our Mission Committee, under the leadership of Elder Skip Becker, has done a comprehensive telephone survey of our congregations. The picture that develops is beautiful. We have across our congregations a truly remarkable commitment to mission work.
Am I allowed to lead? If I am allowed to name a vision and direction for our Presbytery and for our Churches it would be this: an intentional and robust commitment to mission. This is my vision:
Every congregation will move toward an intentional, defined mission budget of at least 10% of total income every year.
Every congregation will devote at least half of their mission budget to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission work in both designated and undesignated expressions.
Every congregation will make a significant financial commitment to undesignated Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission giving. We will work harder to understand, celebrate and interpret our church’s mission work.
Every congregation will connect with opportunities for active, hands on mission service for their members, including mission trips. We will work harder at connecting congregations together for mission service and mission trips. Lend a Hand is a stellar example of this kind of cooperation.
Every congregation will have an international component to their mission commitment. Every congregation will seek to understand and celebrate the amazing things God is doing in Churches all around the world, outside of the United States.
Every congregation will make a significant and active, hands-on commitment to at least one of the mission agencies which we support within the presbytery bounds. For example, Skip Becker and I recently visited the Check-up Center, a remarkable medical mission right in the heart of the one of the most oppressed and dangerous, urban areas in Harrisburg. The Check up Center is remarkably good ministry, providing free medical care for extremely underprivileged children. But only two congregations in our Presbytery actively support the Check up Center.
Every congregation will make a gift to our Funding the Future capital campaign in support of Camp Krislund.
I ask for permission to lead mission trips as part of my position. I requested and the Administration approved, and you will vote on today, adding two weeks per year for mission work, including funding, into my 2008 terms of call. I hope to create the relationships and infrastructure for mission trips so that every pastor and church leader will have the opportunity to participate.
Am I allowed to lead? Let me be bold:
We can support the General Assembly’s Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts and Hands. Our Presbytery can create and fund a new international mission co-worker position. Our Presbytery can commit to growing Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) international mission work.
We can begin a conversation to ponder a Mission Coordinator staff position at the Presbytery level. The responsibilities of this person will be our disaster response ministry through Lend a Hand, connecting congregations together in active mission service and mission trips, and connecting us as a Presbytery with the beautiful work that Presbyterian missionaries are doing around the world.
Am I allowed to lead? What does that mean? To me it means identifying and naming what we do best, and helping us do it better together. Let’s do mission in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.