“Why does the PDC exist?” This was the question Justin Manzey, consultant from Latitude Ministries, asked our PDC Executive Board. “At the end of this assessment process, as you look to call a new district minister (DM) to serve this piece of the USMB church family, what vision and purpose are you calling them to?”
When Justin sat with our board and asked this question in February of 2020, there was so much we didn’t know. We didn’t know how exactly to answer the question in a way we could all agree on. We didn’t know this would be our last face-to-face meeting for more than a year. We didn’t know the unprecedented changes we were all about to face. Less significantly, we didn’t know the person we would call as our next DM was sitting in that room. (I most certainly didn’t know that!)
However, what we did know is we wanted to find an answer to this question, together. From that mutual desire to lean in and better articulate our commitment to our Mennonite Brethren family, we began to find answers.
Why does the PDC exist? To be relevant, revitalized and reproducing.
We want to be relevant in our communities, for our communities. God is already at work in our world. His light is exposing the darkness around us and calling all people to truth and life (Isaiah 9:2; Matt. 4:16; Acts 26:18; John 8:12). This means that we, as followers of Jesus, have the incredible opportunity to be an incarnational presence in our communities. We do this by following the example of Jesus and the New Testament authors, sharing the gospel in unique ways to our unique communities. Relevance is not skinny jeans and quirky socks. It is sharing the hope of Christ through word and deed in the communities where God has called us.
We want to be revitalized in our spiritual lives. This is not a one-time event but an ongoing process of transformation that leads to life as a new creation (2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17). Just as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6 through The Lord’s Prayer (really, the disciple’s prayer), we daily need our Father to revitalize us for this inbreaking kingdom work. Through spiritual discipline practices of prayer, studying the Bible, fellowshipping with believers, etc., we experience the revitalizing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and are empowered to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world.
We want to be reproducing disciples and churches. Bottom line, this is what all followers of Jesus have been charged with doing (Matt.28:18-20). As USMB, we articulate this as a commitment to evangelism, church planting and discipleship (also known as leadership development). There are plenty of things that we can do as a family of churches, both in the PDC and larger USMB family. However, if we are not seeing people respond to the gospel, if we are not seeing healthy churches give birth to new churches, if our family members are not growing in faith…then what are we really doing? This was a humbling conclusion for our PDC Exec Board to come to, but one we needed to hear. Healthy churches, healthy followers of Jesus, will reproduce disciples and churches.
May each of us be humble enough to examine our own lives and the churches we are part of. Let us remember that God is uniquely calling us to our local communities and empowering us through the Holy Spirit, all so we might participate in the saving work of Christ, restoring people to relationship with the Father.
Relevant. Revitalized. Reproducing.