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Inspired by the Word: Supporting Ministry
Part V of V


June 5, 2009
-Deborah Froese

As we have seen throughout the previous four parts of this series, Mennonite Church Canada is inspired by the Word to engage in a wide variety of ministries. The familiar words of Matthew 28:19 – “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” – clearly state our mission as the church. Reading between the lines, we also know that “going forth” implies making it possible to do so. For MC Canada, making mission possible depends upon Support Services.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — From the time Christ first travelled with his entourage across land and sea to cities and villages and everywhere between, logistics have been at play: How do we travel? How do we feed ourselves along the way? How will people know we are coming? Where do we stay when we get there? How do we finance the journey?

In a November 2007 sermon reflecting on the bottom line of mission work, Carol Penner, pastor at The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, Ont. analyzed the logistics of ministry. Exploring Luke 8 and Mark 15, she concluded that the travelling band of Christ’s supporters consisted of many more people than Christ and his 12 disciples.

She wrote; “In scripture we often see people extending hospitality to Jesus, but if they invited Jesus to dinner, were they inviting his 40 followers? If they offered to put Jesus up for the night, did that mean that everyone else tagged along automatically? They must have experienced some hospitality, certainly, but this big group of people had to be fed every day, they had to find a place to sleep everyday, and they had to have clothing and sandals because they must have worn out their shoes walking from place to place!”

Penner’s further observations focused primarily on financing Christ’s ministry. Looking beyond, it’s not a stretch to imagine other administrative needs – from human resources to communication – that become apparent in all forms of ministry.

Consider Assembly planning, for example. Each year, Support Services secures the venue, coordinates the program, acquires accommodations and meal service, and with the help of the hosting area church and its congregations, organizes a volunteer component to serve in a variety of ways. MC Canada staff prepare registration and program materials from report books to presentations, generate posters and advertisements to promote the event, compile stories and photos during the event, and develop video and audio recordings when the event draws to a close.

The foundational administrative network that underlies assembly planning also oversees fundraising activities, manages human resource needs, maintains buildings and facilities, and equips staff with the tools they need to be efficient and productive.

The mission of God’s church is most visibly witnessed through the stories of people who are engaged in it and affected by it, but scratch the surface of any ministry and you’ll discover another layer.  This hidden layer of offices, resources and personnel may appear more mundane, but it is fundamental to the work of God’s people.

Carol Penner's Sermon can be found in the Resource Centre [PDF file]