NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – Gisselle Guity believed that while compassion and a sense of call led her into church planting, it is coaching and resourcing that would have kept her there.
She and several other women discovered this the hard way. After two years of serving marginalized women in West Palm Beach, Florida, they stalled out and didn't know how to continue, she said.
"Our initial sense of call was strong, but we lacked the tools and resources to help us sustain the work," said Guity, a student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, and executive assistant to Stanley W. Green, executive director for Mennonite Mission Network.
"When this stalling happens, church planters can begin to doubt whether they really heard God speaking to them in the first place," she said. "Usually, this isn't it at all. What we are missing is the connection to others who can share their resources and coach us on how to navigate the challenges."
The need to be guided and renewed is why Guity has attended all four Sent conferences sponsored by Mission Network and Everence, starting in 2016. Mauricio Chenlo, minister for church planting for Mission Network, conceptualized the Sent conference in response to what he and others heard from conferences asking for more networking and resourcing of church planters.
In late April of this year, Guity attended the fourth annual conference, held at Beloved Community Mennonite Church in Englewood, Colorado. Beloved Community is a recent intercultural church plant in Mountain States Mennonite Conference.
Guity was one of 80 attendees at the 2019 intercultural gathering, where participants – through worship, fellowship and networking – fanned the flames of their passion for sharing God's good news in Christ. They also received biblical wisdom and encouragement from Linda Oyer, a former mission worker and church planter in France, and a seminary professor.
Oyer focused on the conference theme, "Beloved are the feet of those who bring good news," by sharing insights from the Gospels of Luke and John. She compared the narratives in each, reflecting on how their differences affirm the need for a variety of expressions of sharing the good news in today's world.
"The perspectives of … Luke and John are very, very different," she said in a telephone interview post-conference. "So, too, today, there is not just one exclusive expression of the gospel to be incarnated in our world. Though all expressions include the main theme that God makes all things new in Christ."
To provide further resourcing, coaching and mentoring beyond the conference, Chenlo, with Sandy Miller, senior executive for Resourcing and Mobilization, have created the Sent Network. At the gathering, they previewed the six-month resourcing program, to be launched Aug. 30.
The curriculum includes three phases – explore, equip and send – and Mission Network staff will teach a course every other week, completing 12 modules, four in each phase. In addition to online studies, there will be group and individual coaching available. The team will explore with each conference how Mission Network can walk alongside them in their efforts to create healthy church planters.
For more information or to register, visit the Sent Network website at https://www.mennonitemission.net/resources/church-vitality/church-planting/The-Sent-Network; or e-mail direct questions to MauricioC@MennoniteMission.net or SandyM@MennoniteMission.net.