I remember as a young mother dropping off my baby at the nursery of a church we were visiting for District Conference. A sign posted beside the nursery’s Dutch door displayed the theme verse for the nursery: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” I’ve seen that sign at other church nurseries many times since, but that was my first time. Although their use of the verse was contrary to all good hermeneutical principles, it was reassuring to me that the folks at this church had a sense of humor. They were sending the message that they knew that the babies and toddlers they would be caring for weren’t a perfect bunch. They might be active and playful, but not necessarily play together without biting or pinching each other. Crying and fussing might be par for the course, but the noble nursery workers would make sure that certain essentials of proper care would be lovingly maintained. Although babies (and their caretakers) don’t always like the process of diaper changes, they are usually happier afterwards.
Some say that the only constant in life is change. Singers sing about it. Politicians promise it. We change our clothes, change the tires on our cars, change our minds, change the channel on our television and change lanes when we drive. When doctors tell us to change our eating habits, sometimes we change our doctors! Usually change, especially when it is intentional and well-planned, is supposed to make things better. Yet even with the hope of better things to come, we are often uncomfortable with change.
For quite a while now, we have been talking about changes that would be coming through Global Link that would affect the way we do our missions emphasis events in our district. We have told you that the “tour system” is being redesigned. You have given us helpful input that is guiding us in our thinking about these changes. So, in anticipation of the changes that will take place on a national level in 2018, we have decided that we need to make some changes on a district level this year to ensure that we’re ready for 2018.
Here’s an outline of how missions emphasis events will be scheduled for our district churches this year:
Interdistrict tours scheduled by Global Link will continue as usual for one final year (fall 2017 and spring 2018). If your church is part of an interdistrict tour, nothing will change for you this year, but next year your church will be able to participate in our new district system.
An online electronic calendar (e-calendar) will be made available for those churches that have been on a district tour or freedom tour to sign up for international workers for missions emphasis events they will schedule for June 2017 to June 2018.
o Available dates for at least three international workers will be posted on the e-calendar.
o A designated person from each church formerly on district or freedom tour will sign up for the dates and IW of their church’s choosing. This could be the pastor or missions team leader – you need to decide which it will be.
o A specific date, probably in late spring, will be given that will open the sign-up season on a first come, first served basis.
o Churches will be asked to limit their sign-ups to one speaker and one weekend (Friday-Sunday, or you could extend to Wednesday through Sunday with the IW’s consent) until otherwise indicated.
We plan to communicate more details soon, possibly before you even read this article, so please be watching for our communications. We want you to feel free to continue to share your concerns and questions with us. That will help us clarify our direction.
The process of this change may be a little bit messy, but our goal is to create a system that will be beneficial to all involved. We’re not perfect and we expect there to be some things we’ll need to work out with you, but we hope this change will empower our churches and international workers to engage more easily in building relationships that will advance God’s kingdom and change the world!
And we’ll try not to cry or get fussy while we’re doing it. :)
Bob and Dian Harner
Directors of Missions Mobilization