Q1: What is a Mission Summit Conversation? Answer: A Mission Summit Conversation is an open opportunity for anyone attending the Biennial Mission Summit to engage in meaningful dialogue about a topic of interest by self-selecting into a small group. The Mission Summit Conversations are the heart of the Mission Summit. Two rounds of Mission Summit Conversations will be held.
Q2: How were the topics chosen? Answer: In addition to receiving suggestions of topics from the last round of Mission Summit Conversation evaluation forms, American Baptist organizations such as local churches, regions, national agencies, and seminaries were invited to suggest topics for discussion. These topics were posted in an online survey for all American Baptists to indicate their interests and preferences. Topics receiving the highest ratings were chosen for the 2015 Mission Summit. A special survey for 18-24 year olds was also created and distributed to that target audience to surface topics of interest to youth. Click here to view a list of Topics. Click here to view a list of Topics.
Q3: Are there new topics for this year? Answer: Yes. About half of the 2015 topics are new since the previous Mission Summit Conversations in 2013.
Q4: Did any of the 2013 conversations continue? Answer: Yes. Many of the conversations launched in 2013 have continued. Several of these conversations have continued through the work of the Mission Table and several have continued through the use of online communication.
Q5: How can we hear about those results? Answer: Susan Gillies and Harry Riggs will host a reporting out session using a “talk show” format on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM as a part of the Mission Summit. People involved in conversations that began in 2013 at the Mission Summit and Mission Table as well as people involved in the Transformed by the Spirit initiative will be interviewed. Formal reports of the conversation activity will also be posted on the website.
Q6: What is Transformed by the Spirit? Answer: Transformed by the Spirit is an initiative launched by The National Executive Council (made up of the executive directors of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, International Ministries, American Baptist Women’s Ministries, the Ministers and Missionaries Benefits Board and the General Secretary) to help us dream about how we could help congregations and pastors address some of the toughest challenges they face. Groups related to Transformed by the Spirit continue to work on a number of challenges related to mission and ministry in today’s world.
Q7: I have heard that the concept of conversations has caught on in many places throughout the ABC. Is that true? Answer: Absolutely! Several regions, including ABC of Connecticut, ABC of Greater Indianapolis, ABC of the Pacific Coast Region, ABC of Vermont/New Hampshire, ABC of New York State, and ABC of Indiana/Kentucky have held regional conversations. Additionally, ABC of Maine held a conversation event with young adults and other church leaders and the Native American Indian Caucus and the Asian Caucus used the conversation format for their meetings. One region has even called a “conversation facilitator” for local churches to serve in their region.
Q8: So, at the Mission Summit Conversations, we will sit and listen to what others have already said about these topics? Answer: No! Previous learnings are being posted online, but the Mission Summit Conversations are about having dynamic, new conversations about real issues, not sitting and listening to a lecture.
Q9: So, then, how will previous learnings intersect with these new Mission Summit Conversations? Answer: You are encouraged to read about the results of previous conversations through an online forum that will be launched mid-March of this year. Review the previous learnings related to your topic and come ready to advance the conversation further.
Q10: How many times will the groups meet? Answer: The group will meet two times for dialogue, twice on Saturday, June 27.
Q11: How will I know what group to join? Answer: Sample groups are posted on the ABCUSA Biennial Mission Summit website, here. The group titles will also be displayed at the event registration in Overland Park and included in your registration packet.
Q12: Do I need to sign up in advance in order to participate in the Mission Summit Conversations? Answer: No, there is no advance sign up! In addition to rating the topics themselves, that was one of the questions asked on the survey distributed last fall and the majority of persons would like to be able to choose their topic on the day of the event. But, you may want to periodically review the list of topics and updated conversations on the website and come to the Mission Summit/Biennial ready to join a particular group.
Q13: What else did you learn from the survey? Answer: We learned that about two-thirds of the respondents wanted to be able to engage in two different conversations rather than being forced to stay with the same conversation for both sessions and that about three-fourths of the respondents would like to address topics that have already been engaged by others. Again, learnings from previous conversations will be available online in mid-March. Finally, about one-half of the respondents said that they would be willing to give a brief comment (for video purposes) following the conversations, so look for that opportunity when you depart your conversation room!
Q14: How will I find the group that I want to join? Answer: The groups will be divided into three large rooms titled, “Our Leaders,” “Our Witness,” and “Our Future.” The Program Book, to be released nearing the event, will show which room each group is in and there will be room hosts at the Mission Summit to help you find the group that you would like to join.
Q15: What if I don’t like the group that I join? Answer: Switch. The small group leaders are prepared for new participants to come in and out of each session.
Q16: What should I hope to take away from the Mission Summit Conversations? Answer: A great question! 3 things… (1) An understanding that you are not alone in the challenges that you face in mission and ministry, (2) Contact information from others who are facing similar challenges, and (3) New insights into the ministry challenges that you face. We continue to be overwhelmed by the positive comments of how the conversations themselves are impacting people’s lives.
Q17: What if our group wants to keep meeting after the Mission Summit Conversations officially end? Answer: That would be great! While the conversations themselves can have a great impact, it should be easier to find one another after the conversations using the online forum that lists every topic discussed at the Mission Summit. Some people in the past have said that they wanted to continue the conversation but lost the contact information of the other participants.
Q18: Will anyone be leading these Mission Summit Conversations? Answer: Yes, these will be guided conversations by a trained small group leader.
Q19: I have heard that there is also a Mission Table. Is that just another name for the Mission Summit Conversations? Answer: No. The Mission Summit and Mission Table are two distinct gatherings. The Mission Table will meet at a later date.
Q20: Who is invited to the Mission Table? Answer: The Mission Table will include persons from every region, seminary, and national agency.
Q21: What happens at the Mission Table? Answer: Attendees engage in similar conversations, “Seeking to further advance God’s work among our ABC congregations and Mission Summit participants.”
Q22: So, ABC people from around the U.S. and Puerto Rico come together and talk about mission topics and then the national groups do the ministry on their behalf? Answer: No, not really. That was an old model that served its time, but really doesn’t work anymore! Now, we are all engaged in mission and ministry together. The role of the Mission Summit Conversation participants is to hear the voice of God and engage in ministry in ways that respond to God’s call. The role of the regional and national agencies is to provide further insights, ideas, and shared learnings that can advance God’s work in our world in even greater ways. But, this is our ABC and we are all in this together.
Q23: Is there anything else new at this Mission Summit? Answer: In addition to hosting the conversations in a single day and providing an opportunity for online interaction leading up to and following the Mission Summit, there will be a session on Sunday afternoon for those who would like to take the conversations further. Jeff Woods will share resources related to the Transformed by the Spirit that will help you take these conversations deeper, wider, or beyond your local church, depending upon the specific needs of your local congregation.
Q24: What if think of other questions, who can I ask? Answer: Go to this link and pose your question: Contact Us