As I think about doing mission and ministry as a conference of churches, I think in terms of a family. It’s a family, with like-minded intention, doing things together for the sake of the kingdom of God. As Mennonite Brethren, we have agreed that we want to be joined, hopefully in unity, for living out mission, theology, values, serving and learning. One could say this is a covenant we have with one another. We are Mennonite Brethren—and what we have determined to do together is our collective identity as we serve the King of Kings. When you stop and think about the implications of that—that is a very big deal.
I believe we are united by our specific call to ministry because God has willed it so. Within this family God wants to shape us individually and together into the image of Jesus. Serving as Jesus served. Living as Jesus taught. Being passionate about helping more come to know him. Being deeply committed to Jesus occurs best when we are connected to a healthy family. First, that’s our local church. Secondly, that’s our larger USMB family.
As a national family, we have determined together three core things that we covenant together to be our priority: evangelism/church multiplication, intentional disciple-making and leadership development. These are not just cheesy words thrown on the page—they are our heartbeat. It’s about telling and showing those who are currently spiritually lost about Jesus so that they might become his disciples. Helping each other grow as followers of Jesus and thus multiply our disciple-making. Planting new churches and strengthening our existing churches. Challenging gifted individuals to lead and develop their leadership so that the church grows, multiplies and is stronger—this is us.
These shared commitments represent what we believe we must be about and that we can do it better together than alone. Through this family, known as USMB, we are asking God to allow us to have a significant impact in our communities, regions and nation. Many of our churches are actively pursuing and investing in this collective mission and ministry. Some of our churches are not. I’m inviting all of our churches to commit to our family’s vision!
I have a list of the many things we are doing as the USMB family. The list is way too long to add here. Yet, I hear from some that they don’t find value in our collective mission, and so they don’t support or participate. For me, that is so sad.
We can accomplish so much more if we do it together and even more if every church is involved.
I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the MB family. I chose to become a part of this family in 1979 along with my wife, Janna. So, I don’t get the desire and movement toward independence when it comes to churches. The body of Christ is local, regional, national and international. It functions as a body, with all the body’s parts doing their designed thing (1 Corinthians 12). We need one another. We need healthy MB churches. We need healthy district conferences. We need a healthy USMB conference of churches. We thrive together.
We are a family of churches by the will of God, and we are united by one Spirit for the specific call to ministry—a believing community choosing to express our following of Jesus within this family.
So, as we begin a new year of mission and ministry, I invite all of our MB churches across the nation to invest, covenant, utilize, connect, network, enjoy and support our USMB family. This is us.
Don Morris is the USMB national director. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they attend Cross Timbers Church.