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Mission Table Content

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Mission Table Basics

The following information will guide your congregation in creating a congregational mission table. Title- (You add the title for your mission table exercise.) Focus - (What is the primary focus for this mission table?)

  • The Set Up: We suggest tables of 6-8 people. The pastor or lay leader may assign a “host” for each table to initiate the discussion. Provide finger food: grapes, apple slices, crackers and cheese, and yes, even some great tasting, homemade cookies. Offer appropriate drinks for those who have come.

  • Pray, invite the Holy Spirit to encourage, grant wisdom and inspire the conversation.

  • Begin with 5-15 minutes of group reflection on a Bible verse.

  • Reflection on a missional question. 30-45 minutes

  • Offer a possible follow up mission table that would transition from this exercise.

  • Write a reflection piece on your mission table exercise. What did you learn from the exercise? Suggest how the exercise might be improved. Send it to your DEM: jschaumburg@gcsynod.org).

  • Celebrate the fact that the Spirit is alive and well in your congregation.

  • Set a time and place for the next Mission Table Talk.

  • Close with prayer, giving thanks and expressions of gratitude for God’s work among you.

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Mission Table Talks

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Imagining the Future

Imagining the Future informs Mission Strategy for the Present

This Mission Table talk is for congregations facing an uncertain future, presently more engaged in maintenance ministry than missional, and is fearful of what the future might bring.

Outline of suggested activity

  • Set Up: We suggest tables of 6-8 people. The pastor or lay leader may assign a “host” for each table to initiate the discussion. Provide finger food: grapes, apple slices, crackers and cheese, and yes, even some great tasting, homemade cookies. Offer appropriate drinks for those who have come.

  • Prior to the meeting, the Mission Table leaders may gather demographic information on both the congregation and the local neighborhood. An age/gender pyramid of the congregation would be useful. Your synod’s Director for Evangelical Mission would be helpful in obtaining some of this information.

  • Pray, invite the Holy Spirit to encourage, grant wisdom and inspire the conversation.

  • Begin with 5-15 minutes of group reflection on the following Bible verse-Romans 8: 18-39

What does Paul write that would help a congregation today overcome fear, especially fear of the congregation’s future?

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Evangelical Mission Table Talk

Follow the basic outline of a Mission Table (as outlined in “Mission Table basics)

Read Rev. Dr. Peter Perry’s thoughts on Evangelical Mission {under Theological Reflection}

Use the discussion outline below during the reflection time

Gospel-centered:

1. What does ‘Gospel-centered’ mean to you?

2. What motivates you to do ministry?  Is it a desire to ‘feel good’?  Is it an obligation?

Outward-directed:

1. What does being a missionary mean to you?  Do you consider yourself a missionary?

2. How do you define community?  What do you consider your community?

3. What needs are there in your own community?  Who in your community needs help?  Who in your community needs to hear that God loves them?

Accompanying others:

1. What does it mean to ‘walk with others humbly to learn how to serve’?

2. Examine your current ministries that serve others.  Is there an attitude of ‘I know how to help’ or an attitude of ‘how may I serve you’?  If the former, how might you change that attitude?

3. Given the needs you identified in your community, what could you do to determine how to serve?

In humble service:

1. What does it mean to serve humbly?

2. What opportunities to serve have you discovered by ‘walking’ with people?

3. How might you ‘walk’ with people to identify opportunities to serve?

To proclaim Jesus as Lord:

1. In your service opportunities, have you invited others to follow Jesus?  Have you shared your faith with people you’ve served?  Or, have you simply served, assuming they understood you did this because Jesus loves them?

2. How might you inform the ones you serve that you do this because Jesus loves them?

3. How might you invite the ones you serve to follow Jesus?

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Mission Table Prayer

Lectio Divina (A Holy reading and reflection) on John 20:19-22

by Mrs. AnneMarie Freeman, Spiritual Director

In this reflection the scripture will be read three times.  Each time participants are asked to reflect in a particular way on what they are hearing.  This allows our minds to be more open and able to listen to the scripture as it speaks to us.

First reading:  While listening please think of the scene being described, and picture it in your mind.  Think of what the scene looks like before Jesus arrives and then after he arrives.

Follow this first reading with 1 minute of silence for reflection.

Second reading:  How put yourselves into the picture, either as a disciple or as an observer, or as Jesus.  Be aware of feelings that arise in you as you listen and become a participant in the scene.

Follow the second reading with 1 – 2 minutes of silence.

Third reading: Now pick a phrase that touches you the most or has the most meaning for you at this time.  Repeat that phrase or word over and over to yourself.  Let its meaning sink in and allow the scripture to speak to you.

Follow this reading with 2 minutes of silence for reflection.

When this process is completed the following questions might serve to stimulate discussion around the table.

  • Share either the phrase that was important or who you became in the scene.

  • In verse 19 the disciples were behind locked doors in fear of the Jews. Are we behind “proverbial” locked doors? If so, who or what do we fear?

  • In verse 20 the disciples were overjoyed when they saw Jesus. Are we not overjoyed when we worship and receive the communion meal? In a sense we are seeing Jesus. How do we react to that sense of joy?

  • What do the words “I am sending you” mean to you?

  • Do you feel you have received the Holy Spirit? If not, is there a way for the community to help?

(In the Bible the Holy Spirit was received as a community experience.  Jesus was with them in body only momentarily but the disciples continued to have each other to depend on.)

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Mission Table Bibliography

Recommended first books:

The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh, Fred Romanuk and Eddie Gibbs This is a must read for missional leaders. Chapter titles provide an excellent review of content (examples): (1) Six Critical Issues for Missional Leadership; (5) the Missional Change Model; (7) the Character of the Missional Leader; (9) Forming a Missional Environment and Culture. This book is recommended especially for a pastor’s book study within conferences or clusters.

A Door Set OpenGrounding Change in Mission and Hope by Peter Steinke This book will speak to everyone, especially the laity, as we struggle to understand the changing climate in a postmodern world. Steinke offers an invitation to congregational health and vitality in the midst of complex, shaping forces that are producing fear and anxiety among us. This book is recommended for a congregational mission table. 

(February 2012)

Top 27 Books - Recommended by the Missional Leadership Academy, Grand Canyon Synod, ELCA, Posted by Rev. Stewart McDonald (October 2011)

Additional Recommended Books