Mission Northwest: A Region, An Association, and A Family
The Mission Northwest Region (aka ABC-NW) exists to resource and develop churches that connect people to Jesus Christ. We are in this together. Each church has a part to play and expertise to contribute to the greater cause. At some point every church will find itself on the receiving end of resources our association provides when a church is in need. Ours is not a staff-centered family of churches, it is a church-centered family of churches.
Unfortunately, because of our geographical spread, and reduced Region staff, it is common for a church to feel isolated. For some churches the closest sister Mission Northwest church is a two to three hour drive away. Connection in the northwest has always been a challenge, and continues to be.
To offset this sense of isolation I am suggesting the following:
1. Let’s re-envision the region as "our family" of churches. The region is more than an office or staff. It is first an association of churches committed to one another, investing in the life and health of each member church. Every church matters. Every church has a God-given mission. Each church is learning lessons in how to be effective in the 21st century, and can help other churches with its discoveries.
2. Let’s prepare ourselves to not only be served but to serve other churches. Some of this service will be as simple and organic as the next church in the next town reaching out to help. Some services will be delivered in the form of region staff and/or consultants—people with training and expertise—who are accountable to the family, coming alongside to provide expertise. Either way, such services don’t happen unless each church is invested in the family as a whole.
3. I encourage you to pray for your sister churches on a regular basis, in worship services and in leadership meetings. Pick one Region church each month and concentrate your prayers on that church. (The Region directory of churches may be found on our web site at www.abcnw.org.)
4. Encourage your pastor to connect with other pastors through their local LLC (Leadership Learning Community). When the pastor is connected the church is usually connected.
5. Attend the annual Leadership Tune-Up in the fall at Ross Point Camp. Bring your staff, bring your key church leaders and ministry team leaders. When localized training events are offered do your best to join in and attend.
6. Consider conducting a pulpit exchange between your church and another Mission Northwest congregation. A great example of this transpired recently when Pastor Tim Hughes (FBC Port Angeles, WA) and Pastor Jamie McCallum (Belfair Community Baptist Church, WA) exchanged pulpits. Call either one, and find out how they did it.
7. Invite people, especially your church leaders, to “Like” American Baptist Churches of the Northwest on Facebook. Also, sign up for the Email lists: Prayer Connection and Email Update by sending your email address and a request to the Region office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
8. Welcome an "ambassador" from the region to bring greetings, encouragement and connection or even provide supply preaching for your church in your absence. We have Rev. John Iverson doing this through the “Partner in Ministry” initiative among our Montana churches. And, soon, in southwest Idaho Rev. Clint Webb, along with his wife, Kathy, will soon be visiting our churches in southern Idaho. We hope to recruit more ambassadors in other parts of the Region in the near future.
9. Schedule Rev. Patti Duckworth or me to preach in your church. We enjoy preaching God’s Word and bringing greetings from sister churches around the Region. Both of us desire to encourage every church in the spirit of Paul who wrote, “For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.” Romans 1:11
Yes, it is a big Region. And, yes, it often feels isolating. But, there are steps we can all take to reduce the space between us. We ARE stronger together rather than APART. Let’s do our part to strengthen and encourage one another in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His power.