New Mission Focus Responds to Changing World

Post a Comment » Written on June 17th, 2006     
Filed under: News
By Don Meyer

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (June 17, 2006) – A strategic realignment of Covenant World Mission resources to respond to a changing global mission environment was outlined for delegates attending the 121st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Rapids.

The plan calls for restructuring the Department of World Mission into four new divisions: administration and finance, personnel, mission mobilization and connection, and mission advancement and communication.

Key objectives in the new focus include:

  • Align mission with the realities of a changing world
  • Achieve greater ministry effectiveness and enhanced stewardship of resources
  • Increase leadership and support for mission personnel
  • Mobilize and connect with the local churches and international believers through mission partnerships

“The way in which needs around the world are being addressed has changed dramatically in recent years,” notes Curt Peterson, executive minister of Covenant World Mission. “Local churches are playing a more direct role and various international ministries are partnering in new and creative ways, which requires us to reconsider the most effective ways in which we can invest limited resources to achieve the most effective results.”

The growth in local church-initiated mission activities was one key factor in shaping the realignment. “The world is more accessible, and knowledge has increased because of easy travel,” Peterson observes. “As people in local churches broaden their knowledge of various areas and needs in he world, their passion for outreach to those in need similarly expands.

“The Department of World Mission needs to serve these local church initiatives as much as possible, as well as connect churches to established mission opportunities and support,” Peterson continues. “Our capacity to support local church missionary deployment must grow.” This will be especially important in helping to facilitate mission trips and vision trips through partnerships and strategic staffing, he suggests. “With this new mission focus, the Great Commission can be engaged more effectively.”

Peterson believes the new approach will enhance the synergy within the team of leaders based in the Chicago offices, while also creating new opportunities to creatively connect local church mission objectives with international mission partnerships.

The new focus also addresses a growing need for missionary recruitment, assessment, training, care, and communications. “We have a gifted and devoted team of missionaries,” Peterson notes. “In the next 15 years, a large number of our career staff will retire or resign for personal reasons. We need someone to give full attention to missionaries and their needs, as well as the development of future missionary staff who will respond to the opportunities before us.” The new mission strategy calls for the sending of career, project, and short-term missionaries.

The matter of stewardship of limited resources is another important factor in the new equation. The Covenant World Mission reserve fund currently reflects a negative balance of $1.5 million. “The shortfall of income against all expenses in our department is at least $300,000 each year,” Peterson notes. “This restructuring plan will reduce our fixed staff expenses,” he notes, due primarily to the elimination of the Church Relations initiative. Some of those Church Relations functions will be incorporated into three of the four new divisions.

Reducing expenses is considered a necessary, but short-term response to the overall mission funding challenge. “Funding must grow beyond our current sources of income to include major donors, project partnership, and new church plant partnerships,” Peterson suggests.

The work of Covenant World Mission has expanded significantly in recent years, growing from seven to 25 countries that now have a Covenant missionary presence. Ten additional countries reflect a Covenant presence through active collaborative partnerships in mission.

“Today, we’re about evangelism that brings the whole gospel to the whole person,” Peterson says. “We are about fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment with the good news of Jesus Christ that transforms lives and communities. We are about the work of God’s kingdom in this world – his rule and his transformational work in lives. It is about equipping and encouraging and partnership in the growing kingdom of God in this world.”

Four strategic goals are outlined in the new focus:

  • The planting of culturally relevant churches
  • The spiritual formation and equipping of God’s people for ministry and leadership
  • The development of ministries that demonstrate the whole gospel by seeking to address the spiritual, social, and physical needs of people
  • The development of vibrant mission partnerships with Evangelical Covenant churches and followers of Christ around the world

The restructuring of mission support staff is designed to more effectively pursue the strategic mission goals, Peterson notes. A director and assistant director will administer each of the divisions, to be selected in the coming months. Notification of available positions will be published in the Covenant website along with instructions on how to apply.

The realignment of staff will not change the missionary staff in international settings, however. “Regional coordinators will continue in their current leadership positions in the five regions of Covenant missionary activity,” Peterson says. “We will continue to have coordination of that work through the country and regional coordinators – missionaries who serve in more administrative and pastoral care roles in those countries.”

Peterson made special note of the work of the Church Relations staff and expressed his personal appreciation to Rose Cornelious and Keith Tungseth who have served Covenant World Mission in the Church Relations initiative for the past six years. As the Church Relations efforts have been incorporated into other areas as part of the restructuring, Cornelious and Tungseth concluded their work at the end of May.

“These two gifted leaders led pastors on vision and ministry trips – Rose led two teams of African American pastors and leaders to Congo, and others on ministry trips to Haiti and Jamaica and most recently a group to Burkina Faso,” Peterson noted. “Keith led teams to Colombia and to his deepest mission interest area, Russia. Both Rose and Keith have raised awareness of world mission in churches through preaching, teaching and workshops. They developed prayer ministries, networked churches in mission projects, and assisted missionaries in raising support. Rose carried an important responsibility of encouraging mission among African American Evangelical Covenant churches. She also facilitated many churches in their mission initiatives in the Caribbean. Keith coordinated all of our efforts in mission into Russia and Ukraine.

“We honor them today and thank them for their dedicated service to Covenant World Mission.”

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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