Missio:Engage – Transforming our faith communities for the sake of our neighborhoods

Adapted from the writings of Tom Brackett

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
– Jesus

“Who is my neighbor?”
– A rich young ruler

The simplest way describing missio:Engage! is to think of it as yet another way to ask the age-old questions, “Who are our neighbors?” and “How is God calling us to love them?”

Or to unpack those questions further…

What would it be like if our faith communities and their dioceses loved their neighborhoods so much that they were willing to transform themselves for their sake and the sake of the Gospel?

What would it be like if we had eyes to see the God’s hand at work in the world around us and the courage to become God’s partners with God’s Spirit in that work.

What would it be like if we were part of larger community of practice that would help us anticipate, identify, and engage the missional opportunities emerging from the blossoming cultural diversity of our communities.

The groundwork for missio:Engage! was laid in July of 2018, when the Episcopal Church passed two enabling resolutions calling for the creation of  a “Community of Practice that works with congregations and their bishops to help them…better engage the cultural realities of their communities for the sake of launching new ministries and multi-cultural missional initiatives.”*

This church-wide Community of Practice…

  • Seeks to embody the Way of Love for local faith communities and their dioceses.
  • Is focused on redeveloping ministries for the sake of launching new ministries that make our best gifts accessible to the New Americas growing up around us.
  • Will facilitate our learning together how we open our hearts and our doors in order to join the Ministry and Presence of the Holy Spirit in our respective neighborhoods.
  • Lends the courage, inspiration, and expertise that nurture safe spaces to try on adventures for the sake of joining God in Mission.
  • Offers a 50,000-foot view of missional opportunities on the diocesan level via MapDash for Faith Communities.
  • Curates the depth of redeveloper wisdom from across our networks of expertise.
  • Hosts the space in the overlap between mission redevelopers and mission developers.
  • Is supported by a broad network of wise leaders, including the Presiding Bishop’s staff for Evangelism, Reconciliation, Creation Care, and Ethnic Ministries.

Missio:Engage! will offer three levels of engagement to the church-at-large…

  1. Dioceses where intentional redevelopment is already a strategic priority.
  2. Dioceses where this strategic priority is in still under development.
  3. Clusters of redeveloping congregations in non-participating dioceses.

We would prefer to partner with dioceses where the following conditions are present…

  • Bishop plans to be in office for the next five years.
  • Bishop is ready to make a commitment to fully participate in a cohort of bishops who will learn together the practices of leading this kind of intentional redevelopment
  • There are emerging opportunities to start new ministries rooted in their neighborhoods.

We will work closely with each diocesan leadership team to identify congregations…

  • That are hungry to engage their communities, but not desperate to survive.
  • In which cultural and socio-economic disparity between the people who show up on Sundays and the people who live in each of the neighborhoods is experienced as compelling.
  • That are willing to support a team of at least 5 dedicated lay leaders.

We propose to work with each of these dioceses for three years (the whole of this next triennium)…

  • Phase 1 will redevelop each of the congregations, using proven approaches to mentoring, coaching, and consulting.
  • Phase 2 will continue the redevelopment efforts while helping each congregation start a new worshipping community that blesses and serves the new neighborhood growing up around them.

In other words, we will spend all three years redeveloping the congregation and the last year and a half developing the new ministry.

*Resolution 2018-A005 Continue a Church-wide Network for Planting Churches; also Resolution 2018-A032 Congregational Redevelopment.