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Published on September 13th, 2013 | by ABCUSA

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What is the Mission Table?

The Mission Table is an event that will be held November 11-13, 2013, at the Green Lake Conference Center/American Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Learn more about what will occur at the Mission Table below.

Q:  What is the Mission Table?
A: The Mission Table is a gathering of people who come together to further advance God’s work among our ABC congregations in common areas of mission and ministry.

Q: Who is invited to the Mission Table?
A: The Mission Table will include persons from every region, seminary, and national agency.

Q: How many persons will take part in the Mission Table?
A: About 100 persons.

Q: That sounds about the size of the former ABC General Board.  Will this experience be similar to the General Board?
A: If it is, then we have failed.  The Mission Table experience is designed to be very different from the former General Board.  The General Board was primarily about setting policy and planning programs.  A Mission Table is about building relationships and networking.

Q: Where will the Mission Table take place?
A: The Mission Table will take place November 11-13, 2013 at the American Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

Q: What exactly happens at a Mission Table?
A: Mission Table participants will discuss topics related to mission and ministry using a process designed to advance what can be done about those topics.

Q: How will the topics be chosen?
A: The topics discussed at the Mission Table were originally discussed at the ABC Mission Summit, recently held in Overland Park, Kansas, in June of 2013. The Mission Summit topics surfaced from work done through the Transformed by the Spirit (TbyS) initiative that included a national survey as well as topics already being discussed by an existing Action Challenge Team (ACT) or Action Learning Team (ALT) in TbyS.  In short, the topics at the Mission Table represent issues that American Baptists find both critical to their future work, but also challenging.

Q: What is the overall goal of the Mission Table?
A: That every participant will commit to advocating for some course of action regarding a topic that is relevant and urgent to their respective organization.

Q: How will that work get done?
A: Through networking and continued conversation.  With today’s technology, there is nothing that prevents people with a common passion for ministry, from engaging in conversation no matter where they happen to reside.

Q: Someone at the Mission Summit said that the parking lot conversation was brought into the main hall? What did they mean by that?
A: I guess the person might have meant that the conversations that used to happen around the edges were brought into the main floor of the convention center.  I did hear one person say that the best part of the Biennial used to be the insights that surfaced from conversations in the hallway about real mission and ministry issues.  People at the Mission Summit had three opportunities to engage in mission and ministry conversation and consistently the evaluations showed that the Mission Summit Conversations were the most appreciated aspect of the overall Mission Summit.

Q: How will the small groups be selected at the Mission Table?
A: Participants will have an opportunity to engage in topics that they are passionate about, but will also be asked to offer their perspectives on topics of general interest to the whole group.

Q: What else will happen at the Mission Table?
A: In today’s ministry, building relationships is critical to ministry advancement.  Participants will spend some time working with and building relationships with persons whom they have never met as well as persons outside of their own organizations.

Q: How many topics will be discussed at the Mission Table?
A: The Mission Summit offered 32 different topics for conversation and every topic had a group of people that had decided that topic was their # 1 choice for conversation.

Q: That sounds like a lot of topics.  Do the topics fall into any broad themes?
A: Yes, the Mission Summit conversations took place in three large rooms labeled, “Our Leaders,” “Our Witness,” and “Our Future.”   These three categories will also outline the Mission Table conversations.

Q: Will the Mission Table also end up with 32 topics that are moving forward?
A: Yes and No.  Because this is a grassroots effort, we expect that every conversation that began at the Mission Summit will continue in some form as the participants go back to their own circles of friendships and connections.  But similar to the Mission Summit, the real power of the Mission Table is to create the space for meaningful dialogue around people’s passions.  By the last day of the Mission Table, topics of greatest interest to the Mission Table participants will be made available for discussion.

Q: I also heard someone say that this process was uniquely Baptist. How so?
A: Baptists have always gathered to do more together than they could separately in mission and ministry.  The Mission Table is an attempt to create the space for that to happen all over again, but in today’s context and with today’s needs and challenges.  Join us in making history all over again as American Baptists engaged in mission and ministry.


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