Delegates demonstrate patience, trust
by Connie Faber
The Future Story dominated the National Convention held July 29-30 in the greater Denver area. The Future Story had been under wraps since the fall of 2014 when consultant George Bullard began working with the U.S. Mennonite Brethren (USMB) Leadership Board to review and revise a new national ministry vision and strategy. The two-day event was billed as the unveiling of a new season of ministry guided by this plan. This issue of the magazine includes our report on the convention (pp. 5, 17-22 and 24-25). Here are some observations on what transpired with regard to the Future Story.
I commend the delegates for their patience and willingness to go with the flow. The Future Story unfolded in stages late Saturday morning and through the late afternoon. If delegates were frustrated by the lack of time to process all the information they received in writing and verbally over a short period of time, no one said anything. Instead of debating the pros and cons of the unveiling itself, delegates took advantage of the opportunity during the two one-hour workshops to ask questions and raise concerns about the plan itself.
Delegates were remarkably comfortable with the lack of details provided in the nine-page Future Story document and the verbal responses they received. More than once during the workshops the answer to a question was something down the line of, “We don’t know. That’s something we’ll figure out together.” Delegates seemed to appreciate this cooperative approach.
The Leadership Board is to be commended for their candor in acknowledging when they didn’t have a solution or response to a comment or question and for their willingness to resolve the unknowns together. This approach likely increases trust.
One frequent reply that deserves a closer look in the future was, “Ask Don,” referring to Don Morris the new USMB national director. Morris has certainly been given a long “to-do” list as he leads the implementation of this vision. Fortunately he can draw on the National Strategy Team, a group of individuals yet to be appointed that will be responsible for assisting in executing the Future Story. We need to keep Morris and this group of leaders in our prayers.
Delegates resonated with the idea of everyone—individuals, congregations and ministries—bringing their gifts to the table as U.S. Mennonite Brethren pursue three core commitments: church multiplication and evangelism, intentional disciple-making and leadership development. Two agencies that may be collaborating with USMB in new ways are MB Mission and C2C, the Canadian Conference of MB Churches’ church planting ministry. How exactly these partnerships will enhance Mission USA and church planting is unknown—and is a development that deserves our prayers.
Should delegates have asked the hard-hitting questions? Maybe. But in the end they trusted the Leadership Board and the process that involved 50-some individuals and led to the Future Story. Convention delegates were good followers, and the Leadership Board took a collaborative leadership approach. It was an effective combination.
Connie Faber is editor of the Christian Leader.
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