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A New Year's Commentary: Goal-Setting Ideas from the Academy of Mission Renewal

by Mary Beth Coudal

Dr. John Nuessle, Dr. Diana L. Hynson co-led the 2008 Academy of Mission Renewal for 11 participants.
Dr. John Nuessle and Dr. Diana L. Hynson co-led the 2008 Academy of Mission Renewal for 11 participants. A map on the wall showed the expanse of the group's various mission travels.
Image by: Mary Beth Coudal
Source: GBGM Mission News
Faithful Witnesses is a mission resource by Dr. John Nuessle, Dr. Diana L. Hynson.
At the 2008 Academy of Mission Renewal, candles were lit, bread broken, Bibles cracked open.
Image by: Mary Beth Coudal
Source: GBGM Mission News

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows...

~"To be of use," by Marge Piercy

I, too, love people who love to learn, set goals, and dive into their work. Especially at this time of year, I enjoy committing myself to new and higher levels of achievement in my resolutions. I am not alone.

Gathering in the Village

Last month, a small group of achievers in the mission field gathered for the Academy of Mission Renewal, the first meeting of its kind at Alma Mathew's House, a Greenwich Village brownstone owned by The Women's Division.

The enthusiasts for mission came from United Methodist annual conferences around the United States. Dr. John Nuessle, assistant general secretary of Global Ministries, and Dr. Diana L. Hynson, director of Learning and Teaching Ministries of the General Board of Discipleship, co-led the event. They provided space--figuratively and literally--for the 11 participants to share experiences, process information on mission theology, and plan next steps.

"Their job is to go into their home conferences or local churches and get people excited about the study of mission in The United Methodist Church," said Jodi Cataldo, executive secretary of Emerging Churches' Resources at Global Ministries, who helped organize the gathering.

The group studied the book, Faithful Witness:United Methodist Theology of Mission. The 21 essays of the book written by Dr. Nuessle have titles like "Paddling the Canoe Together." The appended Study Guide written by Dr. Hynson provides a framework of study in one-day, six-session, or retreat-long meetings.

Faithful Witness explains mission for a variety of learning styles and appeals to those who relate well to words, images, numbers, and stories. The process laid out in the book and study guide enables all kinds of church groups a way to make mission theology their own.

Just Start

At the Academy of Mission Renewal, candles were lit, bread broken, Bibles cracked open. A map on the wall showed the expanse of the group's various mission travels.

One topic of discussion was the context in which mission takes place. Contextual learning means being realistic with what you've got, who you're with, and where you are (e.g., avoiding high-falutin' ideas among plain-spoken people). It means doing mission work in your own way but drawing the circle wide to be inclusive. Inclusive means everybody, not just church friends you are comfortable with.

"At least, start where you are," Jackie Slagle from Minot, North Dakota, said. "Don't wait until it seems too big. Just start."

Set Goals

A practical tip for starting mission teams and mission projects, according to Dr. Hynson, is the SMART goal-setting method. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Sensitive

A goal should be detailed, quantifiable, attainable, sensible, and completed by a certain date. It is applicable for finding a way to get your church, community, or conference jazzed about mission. This method is helpful in my personal and professional goals for 2009. To this end, one SMART resolution I have for the New Year is to read and use Faithful Witnesses by Lent so that I, too, can be an enthusiast and interpreter for mission.

To connect with one of the 11 Academy of Mission Renewal Interpreters who completed the November 2008 training, please email one of the following:

Mike Johnson, Phoenixville, PA 19460:

Noriko Lao, Bellingham, WA 98229:

Dawne McAlpin, Granbury, TX 76049:

Jyl Krause, Peoria, IL 61615:

Sandy Burley, Albuquerque, NM 87114:

Jay and Harriett Hanke, Winchester, VA 22601:

Mary Baldridge, Millersville, MD 21108:

Clifton C. Conrad, Sr., Lafayette, LA 70501:

Dale R. Shunk, Somerset, PA 15501:

Jacqueline S. Slagle, Minot, ND 58703:

Or contact Global Ministries:

John Nuessle
General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church
475 Riverside Drive, Room 1516
New York, NY 10115
Tel: 212-870-3863

By connecting with the Academy of Mission Renewal, you will find company in your desire to make a positive difference.

...I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along...*

* "To be of use" from THE MOON IS ALWAYS FEMALE by Marge Piercy, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 by Marge Piercy. Used by permission of Wallace Literary Agency, Inc.

To learn more about renewing your theology of mission, go to:

Mary Beth Coudal is the staff writer for the General Board of Global Ministries.

See Also...
Topic: GBGM events GBGM programs Mission studies
Geographic Region: United States
Source: GBGM Mission News

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Date posted: Jan 02, 2009