Better Together: The Theme of the 2019 New Wineskins Conference
We were participating in the Global Impact Celebration at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Charleston, SC, last January, when Chris Royer and I snapped a photo together in the narthex where he was exhibiting for Anglican Frontier Missions (AFM) and I for New Wineskins. Many members of the various mission societies frequently see each other as we speak and exhibit at synods and conferences. I posted the picture on Twitter and made the caption: Better Together.
Better Together, indeed! I love the collaboration that we are experiencing with so many old and new ministries popping up everywhere within our Anglican missions context. For one thing, New Wineskins is a mission-equipping non-profit, not a missionary sending agency. We are structured to help a potential missionary inquirer discern what mission-sending agency might be the best fit and to raise mission awareness among all Anglicans. We get lots of folks started in missions, but we can’t take them all the way to their mission fields by ourselves.
Each Anglican mission entity has its own unique charism. AFM and Global Teams, for example, are more focused on sending missionaries to unreached people groups, where the church is not yet established. The Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS) and Sharing Of Ministries Abroad (SOMA) work more closely with overseas Anglican provinces to further expand the Kingdom of God. These are broad generalizations, but the point is that we need each other to fulfill the Great Commission.
We have spent quite a bit of time praying about what the theme should be for the next New Wineskins conference. The words – Better Together – kept coming back to mind. Part of me wondered if it was “missional enough” or “original enough” so I asked God to give me a sign that Better Together was really His idea for the theme of New Wineskins 2019. Here’s how the Lord answered that request:
How kind of the Lord to give me not just a literal sign, but a billboard just one exit down from mine on the highway as I was heading to Ridgecrest Conference Center for a planning meeting, nonetheless! We believe that this large print message was not just for my benefit, to assure us that we were on the right track. But, this message is for all of us: God wants us to work together with one another and with Him, in an orchestrated unity. The Godhead models this unity so beautifully in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – each distinctly different yet one true God!
One of the best examples we’ve seen of living out the Better Together theme is among the Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP) of North America. AGMP was formed in the fall of 2003 to provide a network of biblical, mission-minded Anglican entities to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the very ends of the earth. We realized that networking, partnership and a unified voice were going to be key to keeping the church’s focus on the Great Commission, reaching unreached and unengaged people both here in the U.S. and abroad.
AGMP is unique in that we have not only mission societies and ministries as members, but also dioceses, individual Anglican churches, and theological seminaries. We also have a membership category called Missionary Partner created for Anglicans serving as missionaries with organizations that aren’t officially affiliated with the Anglican denomination.
We have 34 full AGMP partners now and 13 missionary partners. To see the full list of members, click here.
Over these past 15 years, we have built true friendships, established healthy partnership guidelines, created resources helpful to the local church and worked collaboratively through our four AGMP task forces:
- Southeast Asia Task Force which has led to the Southeast Asia Symposium being offered in conjunction with the New Wineskins conferences, as well as a lot of North American engagement at the Singapore Roundtable.
- Youth Task Force which has led to joint ventures like the new Agape Year, a gap year for high school graduates.
- Mobilizing the Church Task Force which has helped create resources for and awareness of World Mission Sunday and making the New Wineskins website the official AGMP hub for all Anglican mission resources.
- Islam Task Force which continues to raise awareness and equip the church to effectively reach out to Muslims in our spheres of influence.
AGMP members do spend some time trying to explain how all these Anglican entities relate to one another. But, when it comes to spreading the Gospel, as long as the entity is biblically-grounded and mission-minded, more is better. The main thing is for all of us to know about one another’s mission goals, to be in trusting relationships with one another and to share resources for our common cause.
All of these groups are small independent non-profits that have to do the hard work of raising funds to support their work. There used to be a bit of competition among agencies for limited resources. Churches in the past have sometimes seen mission agencies as groups just looking for funding rather than as the resource-rich equippers that can help their members to live missional lives as everyday missionaries, serving locally and globally.
I often find myself saying, “If Anglicans don’t support Anglican missions, then who will? These mission organizations are doing great work, domestically - like Church Army, CMJ and Anglicans for Life - and globally - recruiting, training, and supporting missionaries in the field. We can trust that our donations are being used wisely and effectively. Being a member of AGMP is like having missions “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval!
AGMP and other mission entities don’t just need our dollars, they need our consistent prayers and they need our participation. One of the best ways to see what God is doing in the area of Anglican missions is to attend a New Wineskins Global Mission conference. New Wineskins brings all these entities together in one big homecoming every three years – the people in the pews get to engage with their Anglican missionaries, mission societies, seminaries and folks from other dioceses and provinces around the world.
The theme, Better Together, for the next conference September 26-29, 2019 is straight from the heart of God. He wants us focused on building His Kingdom, spreading the Gospel to those who haven’t heard, and strengthening our witness by working together in mission. We need each other in this task of reaching our world!
Registration for New Wineskins 2019 is open now at newwineskinsconference.org. Take advantage of Super Early Bird pricing through Dec. 31, 2018!
Jenny Noyes is the Executive Director of New Wineskins Missionary Network. She is a passionate speaker, networker, and evangelist. For fun, Jenny can be found riding ElliptiGOs with her husband Larry, playing tennis, and spending time with her family. You can contact Jenny here.