Not Your Grandmother's Missions Conference

For good or bad (depending on your perspective), our U2CanRocktheWorld was not your grandmother's church missions conference. But if you come from a churched background (from a "missions-minded" church), you may have figured it out at some point...this is a Five Oaks version of a missions conference.

I've had this conviction for years that missions conferences are too churchy. If that statement raises your blood pressure a bit, please hear me out. First, I became a follower of Christ at a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church. (How's that for a loaded name for a denomination? Kind of like Evangelical Free Church of America.) I grew up spiritually in that church and loved it. I loved it! I committed to vocational ministry in tenth grade at a youth missions conference at our state camp! Most of the youth pastors in that denomination were doing their home tour of duty (two years were required) before going to "the mission field." So when we did a youth conference, you better believe we'd be talking about missions (i.e., "foreign" missions). And every year you could count on a month-long missions emphasis in our services (what many churches call a missions conference). There's so much I love about that spiritual heritage.

But how do you do a "missions emphasis" in a church that sees itself as being on a mission field as valid as any mission field in Africa? Do missionaries do "missions conferences" on the field? Not like we do them in churches that sees missions as something they do over there but essentially neglect to do in their own backyard. This has been a dilemma for me since I love my my spiritual heritage but I don't want us to be a church another church that does missions over there but not here.

So we haven't done missions emphasis months with guest missionary speakers and all the other stuff many in our congregation grew to love or hate in their home churches. Not a big deal in my mind since a missions emphasis month or conference is a form that's relatively new anyway. Somehow the church managed to spread all over the world without them in the past.

But now that it's over, I don't mind telling you that U2CanRocktheWorld was a new kind of "missions emphasis month" that I believe makes sense in a missional church. Let me know what you think.