Significant changes in church planting one sign of progress
By Connie Faber
The last week of March, USMB national boards held their annual spring meetings. This included the Leadership Board (LB), Board of Faith and Life (USBFL) and the National Strategy Team (NST), a new group established as part of the new USMB vision and strategy to provide key strategic planning. The week began with a three-day National Pastors Orientation hosted by the USBFL. The gatherings were all held at Island Palms Hotel and Marina in San Diego, Calif.
Leadership Board focuses on implementing priorities
The nine-member Leadership Board, meeting March 30-31, focused their attention on implementing the three USMB core convictions—church multiplication and evangelism, intentional disciple-making and leadership development. District ministers and the CEO of MB Foundation attend Leadership Board meetings as ex-officio members, bringing the total number to 15.
In an interview following the meeting, LB chair Marv Schellenberg lists three areas in which he sees progress being made: church planting, rebranding and strategic planning.
“Our biggest change to date for the U.S. Conference is how we are doing church planting,” says Schellenberg. “We have asked MB Missions together with C2C Network to help us with our church planting. It is vitally important to continue to give to USMB to insure we have the funds to take care of and continue our church plants.
“We are not getting out of church planting, but we are changing how we do our church plants,” says Schellenberg. “It is very hard for a conference our size to be able to do church planting effectively by ourselves and that is why we are working together with C2C. We are still learning how this new partnership will work, not all the details have been finalized. For now, we’re cooking in the kitchen together, and it’s working quite well,” says Schellenberg.
“Another significant change is revamping our website to make it more relevant in connecting our conference and leaders,” says Schellenberg. “Part of the new website is rebranding USMB, which includes a new logo that reflects the three core commitments.”
The LB approved the new logo, created by Friesen Design, and viewed a mock-up of a new USMB website, also designed by Friesen Design, a design team that works in branding, publication, website, video and graphics with offices in Topeka, Kansas and Enid, Oklahoma.
The new USMB website will link to a new website for the National Youth Commission. “Once again, the goal is to better connect our youth pastors,” says Schellenberg. “Kyle Goings has done an excellent job with this process and we have greatly appreciated his input.”
NST, national director focus on effective strategies
The work of the National Strategy Team (NST) will be key in implementing the new USMB vision and ministry plan, says Schellenberg, who listed the work of the NST as a third area of progress. Including their meeting in March, the NST has met twice since it was formed in the fall of 2016.
The NST is led by Don Morris, USMB national director. Morris reported that the NST meeting that would follow the LB meeting would focus on ethnic diversity within USMB. The team will meet again in August when they will host a one-day summit on the topic of leadership development.
In his report as the USMB national director, Morris presented to the LB the strategic plan developed by USMB staff to stimulate synergy and build effectiveness around the three core commitments. Morris highlighted the four LEAD initiatives, saying they are intended to equip and resource pastors and other church leaders. These initiatives include LEAD Cohorts, LEAD Coaching, LEAD Consults, which help a local church evaluate their health, and LEAD One, one-day leadership training seminars.
The board discussed the importance of strong and consistent communication and affirmed Morris in his efforts to visit personally with USMB pastors to discuss how USMB can serve local congregations and to learn what is going well in local churched that can be shared with other congregations. The board also discussed bringing together a small group of pastors to brainstorm ways local churches can both provide resources to and receive resources from one another.
Changes made to 2017 budget
The LB discussed and took action on several financial matters.
- Treasurer David Hardt reported that USMB ended the 2016 fiscal year in a positive position, with a $24,418 positive balance of receipts over disbursements. Total receipts were $843,810, or almost 98 percent of budget, while total disbursements were $819,392, or nearly 95 percent of budget.
- The LB expressed their gratitude for the “First Fruits” gift of $221,000 from MB Foundation, representing 11 percent of net profits. “MB Foundation has been a significant team player, and they will continue to be,” says Schellenberg. “We are thankful for their support.”
- The LB voted to reduce 2017 funding for the Historical Commission, from $17,000 to $10,000. The LB noted that the commission has had annual surpluses as well as a large reserve fund. The Historical Commission is jointly owned by USMB and the Canadian Conference of MB Churches so the change in financial support will be shared with CCMBC.
- The board shifted funds within the current budget to increase funding for various LEAD initiatives and the Pastor Emergency Fund, which is money intended for pastors who face medical or other crisis situations.
- The board discussed ongoing funding for new and existing church plants now that USMB is partnering with C2C to plant new churches in the U.S.
In other business, the Leadership Board discussed details of the 2018 National Convention; approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Mennonite Health Services, an organization that serves Anabaptist health and human services ministries; updated the USMB Governance Manual and reviewed the USMB by-laws.
The Leadership Board also reviewed written staff reports and heard oral updates from MB Foundation, the Board of Faith and Life and the four district conference ministers that were present.
Photo: District ministers Terry Hunt and Tim Sullivan and elected board members Delilah Issak and Lianne Nikkel at the March 2017 Leadership Board meeting. Photo credit: USMB