Regional Centers Meeting Encourages Mobilizers
Among the 15 million lights seen from the San Gabriel mountains, the light from the gold-appointed lounge above the Latourette Library on the U.S. Center for World Mission campus seemed insignificant. But the 48 participants in the November 18-21 Regional Centers Interface Meeting were unconcerned about promoting their significance. One prayed, We thank You, Lord, that You alone will get the glory. Its so obvious in our insignificance that it is only You who can bring an entire nation into its destiny.
The USCWM called the meeting to pool information on the nuts and bolts of establishing frontier mission centers across the country and to determine the best structures and strategies to mobilize America with a vision of Gods global purpose.
We stand at a critical juncture in history, said Associate Director for Regional Centers Bruce Graham. Theres now a whole generation of radical Christians ready to complete the task of Gods plan for the world.
Somethings happening. Its as if God is saying that Hes watching to see that His Word is fulfilled, the Word that all the nations will be blessed.
America has an opportunity to be a channel of blessing to the nations. The U.S. needs to be released of its resources, its blessing; and it may be our last chance to give it away.
USCWM General Director Ralph Winter emphasized the primary importance of having eyes that see and hearts that understand what God is up to and how we can fit into His plans. We need to be like Simeon, on tiptoe at the temple, sensitively seeking God for His action in our midst, he said.
Were building on the opportunities that have opened up, said Bob Stevens of the recently opened Carolina Center for World Mission in Raleigh, NC. Our strategy is like having a blocker open up a hole and we simply charge right in behind. For our area, that blocker seems to be the Perspectives course.
Tom Craig commented that his group at the Rocky Mountain Center is taking a different approach. In our area, AIMS (the Association of International Mission Services) and ACMC (the Association of Church Missions Committees) have laid the groundwork by contacting churches and offering information.
Many of our regions congregations are now ready for further involvementsuch as starting Monthly Mission Fellowships with the new Year of Vision curriculum, sending out short-termers and taking the Perspectives courses were planning. . . . Were just riding the wave of what God is doing in our area after years and years of prayer by several groups.
Patty Murray of the New England Center now being established in Boston said in her area churches dont seem to cooperate to take ownership of the missionaries as they are sent. There are church members interested in missions. But a majority of them are in separated, small churches; theyre isolated even from each other. So our concern is to encourage these people and help them network.
She said the Center plans to meet the need with a regional newsletter and with mission education tools for small churches.
Some of those handles include new educational tools. USCWMs liaison for churches, Phil Bogosian, introduced the pilot version of the Year of Vision as an example of a mission tool designed for the local church. This 12-session curriculum comes complete with instructional videos, leaders guides and participants worksheets for a price of $95.
Although its primary purpose is to establish a Monthly Mission Fellowship, the Year of Vision program can be adapted for use in existing church structures such as a Sunday School, training hour, midweek service or small group Bible study.
Other church-related tools presented at the conference included the Adopt-A-People program, instructions for Mission Update teams, guidelines for developing Speakers Bureaus, a Missions Consultant Guide, and instructions on how to establish a World Christian Resource Center.
USCWM staff also explained details of proven administrative systems, computerized mailing list management, order processing, financial accounting systems and inter-regional communications strategies. All of these, they said, are available to help launch new Centers.
William Carey International University also announced a new Masters degree program in International Development with a specialization in Mission Mobilization.
Perhaps the most significant tool for advancing Americas vision developed naturally during the fellowship and prayer sessions of the Interface Meeting. Participants discovered the resource of personal networking.
A Personal Network
Cochrans expertise has virtually secured a valuable building for his group. Sure, he said. You other regional folks can give me a call when you start considering what kind of facility to get into.
Tom Craig has strength in computer software. Boyd Morris of the Proclaim Center in Portland can offer some tried-and-true structures for mobilizing college students. Several participants offered other forms of expertise. But the networking didnt end with the conferees practical support for each other. Coordinators and USCWM staff alike committed themselves to mutual prayer support.
Wayne Gregory heads the Gulf States Center for World Mission in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Bringing many of the operations of the Center here in Pasadena into the Gulf states region has been a vision of my heart, he said. Its exciting to think of bringing what this place embodies in terms of tools and services into the churches of my area.
But what I think is remarkable is that weve been encouraged not so much to develop more mini-Pasadena centers but to adapt.
What it seems to get back to is . . . something that will work on the West Coast wont necessarily work in the Carolinas, Duncan added. I think the Center is wise to acknowledge that.
Wes Tullis, chairman of the Mobilization Division in Pasadena, said, We dont claim to have all the answers; the way we operate here is not the only way. Our number one strategy needs to be consistent and disciplined prayer. Out of this, the strategy for a mission renewal movement in a local area can be discerned. Thats why we emphasize monthly mission prayer groups in local fellowships (Year of Vision) and area-wide Concerts of Prayer. They are the backbone for ongoing mission renewal. From this base of prayer there are many options for building regional centers and offices.
Now, she continued, imagine that impact concentrated in a single section of the country. Then imagine that concentrated impact reproduced in region after region, urging America into its role in Gods global plan. Thats the significance of this weekend.
The meeting ended with prayer. Some faces were turned upward; knuckles were white in the fervency of the quiet gathering.
Help us to be multipliers, Lord God. Make us worshipers. Help us implement your will, that every people, tongue and tribe will worship with us. . . . Thank you, LordLord of the Harvest.
For further information, write or call Mobilization Divison, USCWM, 1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104; (818) 398-2200.