Nov. 30, 2023
Author Natasha Crain, who will be a guest speaker at our USMB Gathering 2024 in Omaha, Neb., in July 2024, writes the following in her book, Faithfully Different: “According to the biblical worldview, God created us in His image, giving us the freedom to make meaningful choices. He wanted to be in genuine relationship with us and gave us the freedom to love Him…or not.” I hope you’ll join us in Omaha July 25-27 for the convention portion of USMB Gathering 2024.
As we move into Advent season, I’m so thankful that God did want to have a genuine relationship with us and that He sent His son, Jesus, to actually be with us! Immanuel—God with us!
1. As I’ve been saying for the past many months, thank you to so many of you who continue to pray for my wife, Janna, and her health issues. Thankfully, she is doing much better and is now out of the full leg brace. She continues to experience pain in her foot, which inhibits walking, but overall things are improving. Thank you for praying!
2. I am attending the Jesus Now Summit in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday through Friday. This is an invitation-only event, and I feel privileged to attend. Many godly leaders will be present. It’s all about how we can effectively get the message of the gospel to more people.
3. We are in critical need of developing new young MB leaders. One thing you will hear from me often over the next few months is that we have to have a concerted, collective effort to get more young leaders into the development pipeline. As you may know, a Vision Summit—Leadership Development is to be held in Peoria, Ariz., Jan. 8-10, 2024. This event is invitation-only, but if you would like to attend, ask me. We must begin developing a cohesive, unified MB vision/strategy for developing new leaders, including pastors, associate pastors, worship leaders, youth pastors, missionaries, church planters and lay leaders. Who could you “shoulder-tap” this week? And could they start out by taking part in an internship through the USMB Leadership Pipeline? Send them to www.leaderpipeline.net to learn more about getting connected with a church for an internship. Please pray for the Vision Summit attendees, that we might receive God’s wisdom for this critical aspect of our conference of churches.
4. Along this line—next week USMB is holding an online webinar, Shifting Sands: Developing Young Leaders in a Changing Landscape. Save the date and plan to join the USMB family on Zoom for this webinar addressing the current leadership development landscape on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 10:30 a.m. Central Standard Time. Host Matt Ehresman will have a conversation with Wendell Loewen (Tabor College), Kyle Goings (USMB NextGen) and Joanna Chapa (Multiply). It’s a conversation you won’t want to miss. Register here.
5. A very difficult decision was made by the USMB Leadership Board to end the position of Integrated Immigrant Coordinator at the end of December. Henri Ngolo has filled this position over the past year and has done a lot of work on very limited time with many of our Congolese immigrant churches and their leaders. This decision was basically made due to funding issues and the limitations Henri had for investing sufficient time in immigrant churches all across the U.S. USMB simply does not have the resources to continue with Henri as a paid employee without assistance from other sources. USMB does plan to provide Henri with travel and expense reimbursement as he will continue this role on a volunteer basis. For that I am extremely grateful to Henri and for his heart and passion for the ministry. We do plan to continue incorporating more Congolese churches as member churches and serving them as best we can. The districts are also very involved in this work.
6. Our USMB staff recently met in person in Wichita, Kan. We attempt to meet in person once a year to actually be together for fellowship, planning for the future and for praying for each other and the ministry of USMB. It was a great two days. When we’re not together we do the work of USMB through daily (many times, hourly) emails, texts and phone calls.
7. Please pray for our many LEAD Cohort leaders, and consider joining a cohort next February 2024 as the new lineup is already being solidified. People are gaining new ideas for ministry and life, plus developing relationships from all across the country through these cohorts. If you’re not in a cohort, you are just plain missing out on something really good. The lineup will be posted on our website. Also, LEAD Pods episode No. 91 is ready for download! There have been over 13,000 downloads of LEAD Pods episodes. They are great!
8. By the time you receive this, our Giving Tuesday campaign will be over, but you can still give! Just go to www.usmb.org/givingtuesday. We must raise a lot of funds to continue serving our many USMB churches. Brian Harris, USMB church planting mobilizer, is currently raising funds for church planting initiatives, and I raise funds for many of our LEAD initiatives. If God is encouraging you to help support your USMB, please donate today.
9. Please pray for a gifted individual from the PDC who would be willing to serve on the Church Planting Council. The nominating committee is currently working to fill this critical vacancy. If you’d like to submit a name for consideration for this position, please email it to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a process for then vetting potential nominees.
10. Several Zoom meetings and on-site meetings are on my calendar in the next couple of weeks. There are always significant issues (concerns) that are on my plate – prayers are appreciated.
11. Plans for our next USMB pastor’s gathering and national convention are taking shape. Mark your calendars for July 23-25, 2024, for the pastor’s conference and July 25-27, for the national convention. This is known as USMB Gathering 2024 and will be held at the DoubleTree Downtown Hotel in Omaha, Neb. We chose this location for the convenience it provides for many people to drive to Omaha; obviously and especially this is true for those living in the Midwest. The theme for this gathering is “Salt and Light: Faithful Living in a Secular Culture.” There will be some top-notch guest and in-house speakers, inspiring worship, informative breakouts and great fellowship. Please plan to join us! Find all the details on our website: www.usmb.org/usmb-gathering-2024.
12. The search for the next national director continues. The USMB leadership board has completed a national survey and has developed an updated job description for this position. Please pray for this search process and for finding the right person! Again, I’ll be retiring Aug. 15, 2024, just following the USMB Gathering 2024 in Omaha, Neb. The plan is for me to work alongside the next national director for a short season prior to the convention.
13. I will be taking some time off over the Christmas season—latter part of December. I have found over the years that churches really don’t want me around during the busy Christmas season, so it’s a good time for me to step away for a bit and get refreshed.
14. Overall: Please pray for me that the Lord might grant discernment, direction, stamina, energy, wisdom, compassion, understanding, gentleness and grace. Thanks for your prayers!
USMB National Director
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