By Don Morris
Our USMB family has engaged in a new vision, a new path forward. It’s a vision that has a significant element as its foundation: networking. I’ve found that although many people might nod in agreement with that premise, they still may not fully understand what networking is all about.
The Merriam-Webster defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships.” In our context networking means churches working together to collectively enhance our ministries. It’s about pastors connecting with other pastors to share ideas and for support and accountability. It’s also about churches banding together to get more accomplished, such as planting a new church together.
Over the past couple of months USMB has unveiled a new logo. I won’t go into all the specifics about the various nuances of meaning within the logo, but the tagline—Increasing Impact Together—is important for this article. It speaks about the importance of networking. The impact we have in our communities in the name of Jesus will significantly increase if we don’t try to go it alone. As we connect with other MB churches, gleaning ideas, passion and creativity, we’ll see our impact increase. We need one another. We’re in this together, to see the lasting impact of the gospel in our midst.
Since July 2016 when we announced our new vision, I’ve realized that simply talking about the value of networking isn’t necessarily going to see its fruition. All of us tend to get caught up in our own things. Churches justifiably focus on what’s happening in their own sphere of influence. We’re busy people, and networking with others takes time and effort. Without some intentionality, we won’t ordinarily make networking a priority, even though it’s of great benefit.
So a major aspect of the ministry of USMB will be to encourage, catalyze and provide opportunities for our churches and church leaders to network with one another. We’re providing multiple venues for this. Our one day high impact leadership training events, known as LEAD One, provide opportunities for pastors and church leaders to meet with other nearby MB leaders to focus in on specific leadership issues. We’ll be presenting a LEAD One in our districts this fall around the topic of race relations. Terry Hunt, pastor of The Life Center in Lenoir, NC, will help lead these fall events.
Another LEAD initiative is called LEAD Cohorts—small groups of six to eight MB leaders who meet online every two weeks over three months or so to learn about and discuss a relevant topic. The feedback we’ve had so far for this has been outstanding. There will be many more cohorts offered in the future. It’s a way for pastors and leaders to engage with others long-distance, as strong relationships are formed that we believe will be long lasting.
We’re also planning larger regional events where we provide presenters and resources to help us delve into pertinent issues together. There are certainly many more avenues of networking that will be a part of this new vision moving forward. Networking is the wave of the future for us. I believe that as we come together and serve one another more often and in a variety of ways, we’ll see the reality of Increasing Impact Together.
Don Morris began serving as the USMB national director Aug. 1, 2016. He and his wife, Janna, lives in Edmond, Okla., where they attend Cross Timbers Church.