How USMB is adding value to your congregation's ministry
by Ed Boschman, USMB executive director
Have you ever wondered: “Why are we budgeting all this money for our USMB relationships?” Given that fewer than half of USMB member churches are financial partners in our national ministry initiatives, one can assume that the question has been raised.
The request that churches support USMB with 2.5 percent of general offerings still leaves 97.5 percent of the offerings for other ministry investment. When the district conference request for support is added in and the support for MB Mission, the local Mennonite Brethren college or university, the seminary and some other cousin ministry partners, it may well add up to a tithe of offerings. Does that seem good and right for a local church budget? Still, a key question could be, “But what does that investment get us?”
In the summer of 2009, we asked USMB pastors to advise us of how we might best serve them and their local churches. Seventy-six of our pastors weighed in to say we should prioritize church planting partnerships (85 percent), leadership and coordination of national ministries (72 percent), theological oversight (57 percent), communication/CL magazine (53 percent), leadership development (47 percent) and church renewal and refocusing (46 percent).
From a national Leadership Board and staff point of view, it is important to us to make sure that we are adding value, beyond the assumed legal status and spiritual covering, to our five districts and all of our local churches. So what are we doing?
Through MUSA, we lean in hard to participate in church planting partnerships that provide an effective context for the spirit of Christ to transform lives. We make available various ministries under the LEAD (Leadership Education And Development) banner to resource church pastors and lay leaders for increased health and kingdom effectiveness. We team with Ministry Quest and district internship initiatives to develop leaders through mentoring and discipleship. We invite pastors new to USMB to experience a National Pastors Orientation for initiation and networking connection.
We ramped up our communication by effectively redesigning the Christian Leader and making it available online in concert with our social media initiatives through a significant and active website. We provide theological oversight for our constituency through the service of our national Board of Faith and Life. And we serve in leading our family on our life transformation kingdom mission through the coordination of our various USMB agencies and institutions.
Over the years, I have heard several descriptions of this ministry partnership opportunity. Sometimes it’s been described as an “annoying tax.” Other times a “member obligation.” Or graciously, “a family responsibility” or even more graciously, “a family privilege.” On a few occasions, “a partnership privilege.”
In my earlier years as a church pastor, it always seemed good and right to demonstrate loyalty to and support for USMB and its ministries. After all, this same USMB family had given us birth and was still providing us status and covering. It always seemed right to me and to our lead teams to do our part to ensure that we appropriately supported our spiritual parents and partner ministry agencies.
Another thing that I noticed was that there were times when it was clear to me that I was the gate keeper in those considerations. I really hadn’t envisioned I was signing up for that role, but it was clear that it was a reality, and quite honestly, it was a privilege.
The National Ministries Fund (NMF) needs and deserves support from all USMB churches. We are deeply grateful for all our faithful support partners. If your church is not in on that privilege, please prayerfully reconsider that position, asking God for his direction. Your investment will help move us along in our mission to see lives transformed.