Pastors agree that planting churches is the most important national agenda
By Ed Boschman, USMB executive director
In a 2009 survey, USMB pastors say church planting, ministry coordination and theological oversight are the most important added values the national staff can provide.
Most important USMB added values
Results of a July 2009 survey to USMB pastors; includes 80 responses
1. Church planting initiatives and partnerships (Mission USA) 85.3%
2. Coordination of ministries/organizations 72.1%
3. Theological oversight through Board of Faith and Life 57.4%
Three years ago we sent an electronic survey to our USMB pastors. We invited them to communicate to us what they believed were the most important added values the national staff could deliver to our conference of churches. Their message was clear.
1. Plant churches. There was strong agreement that nothing is more important than birthing new churches. Even though local church pastors are often over-consumed by the weight and breadth of shepherding a church family, they are keenly aware that an absence of church multiplication would not be a good thing.
That is why we are giving priority focus and energy to Mission USA, our USMB church planting and renewal and leadership development initiatives. In fact, we are asking the Lord of the church to bless our national family with six new churches this year and 60 in the next 10 years. Imagine the impact that would have on us. And more importantly, imagine the hundreds of new believers that would be part of God’s family as a result.
2. Coordinate. While it may seem self-evident, those same pastors also know that efficient and kingdom-effective church planting requires more than concerted prayer and significant resources. There is a critical need for coordination and collaboration.
The pastor’s world is multilayered. The home front is like the bull’s-eye of several concentric circles. The next circle might include a community of churches, a city collegium and a regional affiliation. Beyond that there are the realities of district and national conferences.
These layers may often be further complicated by various local and global mission initiatives and other affiliations such as leadership or evangelism networks and partnerships. Without intentional inter-conference connection and coordination, a mission initiative as clear as starting a new church would not work well. Maybe it would not be accomplished at all.
Encourage theological faithfulness. Being on the same page theologically is also a critical success factor. While there is among us a reasonable flexibility for theological nuancing, we are bounded by our Confession of Faith. In spite of that, the diverse theological histories of our pastors can take us to discussions in which we have a variety of convictions.
Our USMB Board of Faith and Life is committed to exhorting us to faithfulness to our confession and is inviting discussion about our differences, with the goal of authenticity in our faith. It is imperative that we pursue the unity that Jesus prayed we would experience as his followers. The power of that oneness is nothing less than life-changing, both among us and for the watching world.
When Jesus prayed that we would be one, his prayer was driven by the fact that he was on mission, and that he would be handing us the assignment and privilege of partnering with him on that mission. That prayer and mandate motivate the oneness that we, USMB, are praying for and working toward.
When we gather in Omaha this summer, it is our prayer that we will be inspired once again to keep working together as one family, with one Lord on one mission, for the transformation of lives. There is no greater reason to be…or to be one.