We did not have the opportunity to include in this issue of the Christian Leader the June 13 announcement from the Board of Multiply regarding the agency’s budget reductions and strategy shifts. You can read the announcement and a response from the USMB Leadership Board on our website.
To summarize, since the merger of MB Mission and C2C, Multiply’s revenue has not matched expenses and so cutbacks have been made. Multiply has also dropped the multi-denominational aspect of its North American church planting work (formerly known as C2C) and is restructuring its short-term mission training programs “with a renewed focus on serving the mission and discipleship strategies of local churches, both in North America and globally.”
As I write this, we don’t know much about what these changes will mean for Multiply staff or how the U.S. Conference will structure its church planting efforts going forward. We do know that this has been, and will continue to be, a difficult and challenging time for the individuals making these decisions as well as those who are affected by the decisions. We also know that Mennonite Brethren will continue to faithfully work at planting new churches that spread the good news of God’s shalom.
The details involved in the “what’s next” questions will take some time to sort out. In the meantime, this decision gives us the opportunity to practice grace. No doubt some are saying the merger was a mistake or are questioning the wisdom of partnering with other denominations in church planting. In fact, one or both of these may be mistakes.
Those of us who are involved with USMB ministries as staff and board members find ourselves living with the decisions—good and bad, big and small—made by the people who served before us. Missionaries and staff with our mission agency, students, faculty and staff at our colleges and staff of other denominational ministries of the future will benefit from and be hindered by the decisions made by those of us currently serving. Let’s show one another grace as today’s leaders aim to lead and serve in ways that will bless these ministries in the future and contribute to their ongoing success.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes. I appreciate the reminder of successful football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant: “When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it and don’t repeat it.” The merger of MB Mission and C2C did not turn out the way leaders hoped it would. But they‚ and we‚ can learn from this experience, recognize that leadership involves taking risks and remember that God is always faithful to guide and provide.