The US Mission Network was formally organized just over three and a half years ago by a group of YMCA CEOs, COOs, Chaplains and key volunteers.
It brought together remnants of the former John 17:21 conferences, along with those who participated in an annual gathering of chaplains and Y church pastors at Silver Bay Conference Center.
A lot has happened over these years, so we thought it might be time to give everyone a quick update on the progress we’ve made and our plans for the future.
The work of any network is to connect people who share a common interest. Since we launched this collaborative effort, we have been doing just that through our newsletter that goes out twice per month, a weekly prayer call, a monthly national conference call and through personal site visits to literally hundreds of local Ys all around the country.
Our National Director, Larry Whittlesey, travels approximately half of the time to visit local Ys, attend Y sponsored events, connect like-minded leaders, share resources, and promote networking opportunities. In addition, those who serve on our Board of Management and on our Ministry Cabinet are often asked to speak at events, share the story of this growing movement, and provide ongoing leadership to Christian mission efforts in their region.
We have been actively involved in bringing people together around the country that share a common bond of faith in Jesus Christ. Many of those who have joined our efforts have never been connected with others in the Y in this way.
In many ways the YMCA is an event driven culture. Conferences and training opportunities are a vital part of the Y experience. It’s where relationships are built by personal interaction. Connections between colleagues are strengthened when they are able to spend time together. If we are going to be effective within this culture, we are going to have to establish a true presence by sponsoring our own events and participating in other Y events. We have begun to do just that.
We sponsored our first national conference, Seize The Day, in November 2015 in Orlando, FL. Though we were less than two years old at the time, the conference attracted more than 200 dedicated Christian leaders from Ys all across the country. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, corporate worship, a resource fair, prayer times and fellowship around meals left all with a sense that God was doing something special.
The following year we sponsored two regional Impact events. Held in Columbus, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia, these events were compact conferences designed to provide some energy and content for the Christian mission work in a YMCA.
Last July, we were proud to have a presence at General Assembly in Kansas City. In many ways the Prayer Breakfast we sponsored was a highlight of the week. It was the first time in at least 40 years that such an event had been held at the General Assembly.
Our upcoming national conference, Mission Ignition, will be held in Nashville Nov.15-17, 2017. A great line up of speakers and breakout sessions are planned, in addition to a live worship band and other special guests. You’ll want to be a part of this unique Christian conference for today’s YMCA.
(Link to promo video)
Finally, in addition to our own sponsored events, we have had a visible presence at numerous other YMCA events—the Program Expo, AYP National Conference, Executive Conference for Small-to-Midsize YMCAs, state alliance gatherings, CEO conferences, World Mission Network, UNIFY Europe, regional AYP conferences Christian Leadership Conferences, state leadership forums and recently the new Serve to Lead conference sponsored by the YMCA of Greater Twin Cities.
We also continue to be actively involved at a variety of conferences sponsored by our growing list of national partners—Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, MOPS, CRU, Y-USA Diversity and Inclusion Group, Transformational Leadership, Restore Small Groups and more.
We will continue to have a presence in events all around the country!
We’re working to provide resources to the Christian movement within the YMCA. Whether we are creating materials for individual Ys to use, or sharing resources that others have created that can be replicated, we’re creating and looking for quality Christian resources.
The resources we provide are accessible to all. Our quick resources and resource hub connect you to printed and video materials outlining the history of the YMCA, Christian programming ideas, graphic resources, prayer initiatives, character development lessons, mission models, national ministry partnerships, and much more.
Currently under development are a series of videos and how to outlines. Both are being created to help local Christian mission leaders better serve their constituents. These practical helps and inspiring stories will help frontline staff and volunteers organize small groups, partner with other faith-based programs, lead service projects and champion community outreach efforts as a regular part of a Y’s mission.
There is no one way to lift up the C in the YMCA. By sharing these resources and stories, it is our hope that other Ys will emulate successful existing programs or create some of their own.
The USMN will continue to create and share resources with the network!
As we connect with others, build on those relationships at core events, and share resources across the network, it is our sincere belief that God will use us to help change lives and impact the entire YMCA movement. Thanks to all those who helped us these first years! We trust we will prove to be a valuable part of your YMCA experience for years to come.