What does a mission-shaped church look like?

What does a mission-shaped church look like?

What does a mission-shaped church look like?

Story and photos by Charmaine Robledo, Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Area

Yellowstone Conference's 2015 Clergy Orders Retreat was held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at Bozeman United Methodist Church in Bozeman, Montana. The event was led by the Reverend Graham Horsley, Connexional Fresh Expressions Missioner with the British Methodist Church, who asked participants to reflect on what a mission-shaped church looked like.

"God has already initiated all sorts of creative mission responses," he said, adding that Fresh Expressions was set up "in response to what God is doing."

Fresh Expressions is a movement that begun in the United Kingdom that "seeks to transform communities and individuals through championing, resourcing and multiplying new ways of being church," according to its website (www.freshexpressions.org.uk). Fresh Expressions also has a U.S. component (freshexpressionsus.org) offering resources to be a "changing church for a changing world."

For the retreat, Horsley did a mixture of teaching and table discussions, encouraging people to explore more deeply the subjects of "Mission Context and the Mixed Economy," "Starting Something New," and "Handling Opposition, Setbacks, and Failures." Horsley emphasized that churches should adapt to the mission field. On the last day of Orders Retreat, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky discussed the missional work of Yellowstone Conference.

"The image of the Tree of Life is about cultivating fruit," said Bishop Stanovsky. "We used the image to help us say what we're all about and free us from inherited forms of church." She listed the annual themes in relation to cultivating the Tree of Life, including Health, Healing Relationships, and Renewal of Creation. The 2016 theme will be "Ministry on the Margins."

Clergy were then broken into groups to share about what they learned during the retreat and a missional vision they're excited about. Stanovsky also asked groups to give their thoughts about three subjects gleaned from Horsley's sessions, such as "People, Not Projects," "Church vs. House of God," and "Adequate Authority."

Responses to those subjects included not treating clergy or groups within the laity as projects, not looking at churches simply as "franchises for Jesus," and knowing that "our authority comes from God through prayer," as stated by the Rev. Morie Adams-Griffin, of Whitefish UMC.

Worship during Orders Retreat was led by Pastor Wendy Ochs, Jack Mattingly, and Nancy Slabaugh-Hart. Rev. Jeremy Scott also shared about a new Vital Ministry Process for congregational development.

See more photos from the 2015 Clergy Orders Retreat on Facebook.

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