A Note from the Missional Leadership Team

November 15, 2022

Last week about 20 pastors and leaders from Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference gathered together at Amigo Centre for a time of fellowship, learning, retreat, and worship. Each year, when the time for these Pastor Gathering draw near, I start to look at my calendar and feel uncertain about how I am going to work in the time away; even the relatively compact schedule can feel like it takes effort to fit into weeks already so full of church activities and the busyness of daily life.  When I actually get to the gatherings, though, and when I reflect on them afterwards, I always find them to be so worth the effort of rearranging meetings and waiting to fold laundry.

These gatherings are a chance to be “away.” The intentional time apart from the regular routines of life and the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation can be meaningful ways to be present to God and one another in ways for which daily life doesn’t always leave space.

These gatherings provide valuable input and resources for ministry. Clayton Gladish’s presentations on Adaptive Leadership encouraged us to recognize the difference between technical problems, which take expertise and skill to solve, and adaptive problems, which require learning and curiosity to make progress.  Clayton helped equip us not only with an “Adaptive Leadership Toolbox” ourselves, but with means to share those resources in our own contexts.

These gatherings provide an opportunity to connect with other IMMC leaders. Each time I join one of these gatherings I come away with deep gratitude for the faithfulness, skill, passion, experience, kindness, and integrity of my colleagues and siblings in Christ in our conference. In thoughtful discussion as well as goofy games, it is a joy and privilege to gather as people brought together by love and call of Christ.

Finally, and most importantly, these gatherings give space to encounter God and be renewed in God’s work in the world. In worship, fellowship, and learning; the gatherings encourage us to be “Centered on Jesus, Guided by the Holy Spirit, Acting through Grace, Love, and Peace, Engaging the world God loves,” calling us to deepen our commitment to that shared vision.

If you are a pastor or leader with an opportunity to engage in Pastor Gatherings or other IMMC events in the future, I strongly encourage you to do so; I trust that you too will experience the rich blessings of those times.  Even if you are not able to do so, though, I would invite you to engage similar opportunities in your own life: to disconnect from the daily routine, to connect with fellow Christ-followers in prayer and fellowship, to learn and engage resources, and most importantly, to be renewed in the vision of living into the grace, love, power, and call of our Triune God.  May you too be blessed by Spirit of Christ alive in our conference community!

~ Naomi Yoder, Secretary, Missional Leadership Team