Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mission America Selects Newton as "Pilot City"

Through the coalition building work of The Missional Church Network (MCN), in and around Newton, Newton has been invited to serve as a nationwide "Pilot City" for the Mission America Coalition's "Loving Our Communities to Christ" national initiative. Fourteen Pilot Cities were selected by Mission America, the largest coalition of church leaders ever assembled for the express purpose of evangelism. Each city was chosen because they have a proven track record of working to bring the Body of Christ together to love and reach their communities for Christ, and a desire to do even more.

For a year now, MCN affiliated churches in Newton have been implementing what they call Neighborhood Lighthouses. Lighthouses are people who are willing to pray for, reach out to care for, and share Christ with their neighbors using a "Prayer, Care, Share" model. Almost 200 Lighthouses have already formed in and around Newton and Hesston.

Commenting on the selection, MCN Coordinator Timothy Conner said, "The selection is an honor. Having our work recognized as a good model for others is truly an affirmation. But more than affirmation, it will provide a valuable three year consulting relationship with Mission America, a year round opportunity for networking with top national leaders, and also allow us the privilege of sharing our experience to help other communities through Mission America's national platform. We've a long way to go," said Conner, "but maybe we're just a little farther down the road and have something to share."

As one of fourteen cities selected nation-wide, and as the youngest ministry and the smallest city selected by far, Conner points out that Newton has a unique place in the overall effort: "to be a nation-wide model for the thousands of smaller communities who want to increase their ability to serve their community in such a way that the average person on the street would say that 'the churches are the best thing in their communities.'"

Making the selection was the Loving Our Communities to Christ project of the Mission America Coalition.

In response to Mission America's invitation in November 2007, a broad group of community leaders rallied to show their support for MCN to enter into a formal relationship with Mission America, and sent a collective letter of support. At Mission America's national meeting in Boston this month, Newton was formally introduced as one of the Pilot Cities. Conner was able to be there to represent the Newton ministry and begin networking and sharing ideas with national leaders.

Other benefits of becoming a Pilot City include "having our community be intentionally prayed for by hundreds of intercessors connected to the Mission America Coalition," said Conner and, "Lord providing, there may be some initial grant monies available to help build on our local strategy."

The Mission America - is a network of over 450 evangelical denominations and parachurch ministries, many with a national or global presence. www.missionamerica.org, www.missionalchurchnetwork.org.

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