When we pulled up to the Arlington Convention center, there was already a buzz of activity. In the exhibit hall, mission teams, mission agencies of various kinds, and other ministries and organizations were busy setting up their display booths. The hustle and bustle of registration and old friends crossing paths in the foyer added to the excitement. Flat screens featuring the colorful conference logo and theme, “Blaze Spirit Blaze,” adorned the hallway leading to the rooms that would host the fifteen class tracks. As we kicked off the the Wednesday night worship, it was already evident that this was going to be a great experience. Then the parade of flags began, both delightful and sobering. The first part of the parade was comprised of countries that have a significant Church of Christ presence—not where the work is done, but where the work is begun. The second part added to the perimeter of the room all the countries where we have yet to break ground. The flags set the world before us at each of our worship assemblies and keynote address. Between such plenary sessions, we attended classes, manned our booth, networked, and, of course, ate.
As I consider what the GMC is, it strikes me that there are a number of perspectives that might answer that question differently. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that the GMC is a who’s who of Church of Christ missions. From a missionary’s perspective, it is a too-short moment of filling- up, gleaning wisdom from seasoned missionaries, making important connections, and finding needed resources. A member of a sending church might see much the same thing--a tremendous pool of insight and encouragement. From a missiological point of view, the GMC is a glimpse into the hopeful future of Church of Christ missions. We are learning to network, learning to partner, learning what synergy can do in the Kingdom. It is all of the above. As a whole, though, I think the GMC is greater than the sum of its parts. There is a statement made in Arlington every few years that we see creation with the eyes God has opened, and, as the Church of Christ, we will participate in his mission—heart, soul, mind, and strength. I hope more and more churches will add their voices in coming years.