As the Cabinet continues its joint ministry work, we wrestle deeply with how we stay focused on the mission. By way of reminder to readers, our mission as a part of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The clear focus of our ministry as a Conference staff (Cabinet and Conference Center) is to “energize and equip local congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This Tuesday (February 19th) we spent a day with consultant Mike Bonem (author of Leading from the Second Chair and In Pursuit of Great and Godly Leadership). Mike facilitated our discussion on what it means to think about the District Superintendent as a mission strategist. (I have written on this before in a number of blogs.) This is a major emphasis of our work together as a Cabinet. While it may not always be clear from a distance, the “mission strategist” approach has already brought great change to our Cabinet work (both in what we work on and how we work). One clear example is the way we engage in appointment making. (See my recent Blog entitled “Inventory and Narrative”) As a Cabinet we are clear that the mission is the driver! Notice that is not “a driver” or even “the primary driver.” It is THE driver. Do we live up to this perfectly? No, but we are working on it! In answering the question “what does it mean to say someone is a mission strategist?” we came up with the following list. A Mission Strategist is: 1) Led by the Holy Spirit 2) Clear about the mission 3) Has a strategy 4) Externally focused (focused on the mission field) 5) Points pastors, laity & congregations in the same direction 6) Focuses energy on the coalition of the willing 7) Minimizes energy on institutional maintenance 8) Speaks the truth in grace 9) Points churches towards resources & fresh ideas 10) Courageously holds self and others accountable 11) Not an island; aligned, committed to interacting with the rest of the Cabinet This list is hardly complete and is an evolving document. Nonetheless, it offers a guide to what we are about and hopefully gives needed insight to lay leaders and pastors. As I look over the list and reflect on our work together, what rings in my ears is the command of the risen Christ. “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth.Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matthew 28:18-20).