On February 27, the bishops of the Episcopal Dioceses of Georgia and Central Gulf Coast and their leadership teams gathered at the Grace Cafe, a ministry of Christ Episcopal Church, in Valdosta, Georgia, to continue their work on the MapDash Evangelism Project. The session was led by the Rev. Ken Howard, executive director and principal consultant for FaithX Strategic Missional Consulting. The MapDash Evangelism project is funded by an evangelism grant from Province IV of the Episcopal Church. MapDash for Faith Communities is a product of Datastory, a GIS firm in Baltimore, Maryland. MapDash is collaborative creation of Datastory and FaithX.
At this third working meeting of the project, the bishops and their teams began mapping out living missional strategies for their respective dioceses. A living missional strategy is different from a strategic plan in that a strategic plan tends to be a highly-structured, multi-year document, while a living strategy is emergent, model based, and adaptive.
Ken kicked off the gathering with a biblical reflection on John 3:16. He pointed out that in this iconic biblical passage, Jesus taught that God gave his only-begotten son not for his disciples, not for the Church, not for people who do the right thing, but for the WORLD. Ken then posed this question for participants to consider during their work:
Do we love our neighbors enough
that WE would change ourselves and our churches for their sake
so that they might experience God’s love through us
in a way they can recognize?
It will be the final joint meeting of the diocesan teams with their FaithX consultant, as the teams will begin to implement their strategies independent of each other, and the role of the FaithX consultant will transition from teacher and facilitator to coach and guide.
The two previous meetings focused on missional assessment. At the first gathering in Tallahassee, Florida last September, the teams began the process of planning and conducting a judicatory-level missional assessment using the MapDash for Faith Communities online tool. At the second gathering on Zoom the teams reviewed and prioritized the results of their assessments in preparation for developing their diocesan missional plans.
Grace Cafe, the venue for our gathering, is an innovative outreach ministry of Christ Episcopal Church, that will likely feature in a future Faith eXperimentalSpotlight article.