The future is now, the USMB story is unfolding
by Don Morris
I am in my sixth month as the USMB national director and many ideas came to mind as I thought about what to cover in the first edition of this column. As a result, this essay will cover an assortment of topics and tidbits.
One of the central things I want to express as your national director is that I will strive to be as forthcoming and honest as possible when speaking with you about what’s happening in the U.S. Conference. One motivation for saying this now is that much of the process of the two-year development of the new USMB Future Story was kept secret and hidden from our Mennonite Brethren family.
Although there were reasons for this concealment, being ultra-secretive with the process did not sit well with many. Over the past several months, significant frustration has been expressed to me about this selected course of action: that most people didn’t get an opportunity to weigh in as things developed or to even read the proposal of the Future Story prior to the convention in July. So I want you to know that as much as I possibly can, without breaking confidences, I will be open and straightforward with you.
I hope we are all beginning to understand the new focus of USMB. This new mission forward is one that encompasses three core commitments: intentional disciple-making, leadership development and church multiplication/evangelism. Some people have indicated that they feel like these are things we were already doing and are really nothing new. That may well be the case, yet I’m grateful that we have agreed that these ministry ideals are what we want to zone in on for the foreseeable future. I think these are the right things. And they are things that USMB can definitely help us accomplish together. By the way, the idea of doing things together is so important for who we are as an MB family. We have even developed a new hashtag to use for this ideal—#TogetherMB—for those of you who know what hashtags are.
The Future Story will not be called the Future Story much longer. It needs a new title, one that recognizes the reality that the story is “now.” Be watching for a new name for the vision and mission of USMB. This new path forward is beginning to unfold, albeit slowly:
- Networks among churches and leaders are beginning to form.
- Topics/ideas for resourcing our churches are being provided.
- A new, powerful USMB website is under construction.
- Church planting initiatives are being honed and refined.
- A new National Strategy Team (NST) has been formed.
I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting and listening over coffee with our Mennonite Brethren pastors and leaders as they share what’s important to them and how USMB can serve them. I want USMB staff to listen and respond.
Listening and responding will be a key element of USMB moving forward: Listening to the Holy Spirit and responding. Listening to our pastors and churches and responding. Listening to one another and responding. Listening to the need and responding.
I have an ongoing prayer: that God will provide his wisdom, that we will collectively pursue the things of God and that together we will make a significant impact for the kingdom, maximizing our God-given ministry potential in each and every context God places us in.
Don Morris began serving as the USMB national director Aug. 1, 2016. Prior to accepting this new position, Morris served as the USMB interim executive director for two years and as the director of Mission USA since 2004. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Okla., where they attend Cross Timbers Church.