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Report on the 2019 Global Missions Conference
Those who are familiar with American Churches of Christ and their affiliated universities may remember an annual tradition called the World Mission Workshop. These Workshops continued for well over fifty years and influenced generations of university students to fulfill their roles in the Great Commission. In more recent years, hosts have become fewer, with a heavier load falling on the remaining hosts, notably Harding University, which calls its equivalent event “Global Missions Experience” (GME). Bob Waldron of Missions Resource Network saw the need to assist with this load and to renew focus on missions.
Thus, Global Missions Conference (GMC) entered the rotation every third year. The Steering Committee calls GMC “a comprehensive missions gathering of churches of Christ to advance domestic and global outreach.” While GMC still emphasizes university students, it casts a wider—more comprehensive—net to include more missionaries, leaders, and members. This inter-generational dynamic gives each GMC a special value. Previous GMCs (2005, 2008, 2011) were held in Arlington, TX. The 2014 GMC was hosted by Goodman Oaks Church of Christ near Memphis, TN. GMC 2019, held October 10–12, was organized by World Bible School (WBS) and hosted by the Brentwood Oaks church and school in Austin, TX. The number that registered formally was 586, and many other attendants were “walk-ins” from central Texas. 53 exhibits showcased 46 different ministries.
The Conference’s theme was “Deep and Wide—Exploring Missions Dimensions.” Wide refers to the global scope of the Great Commission. Deep refers to making disciples who mature into all of Christ’s will. The objectives included focusing on the mission, motivating for involvement, and networking and equipping for greater effectiveness. One veteran missionary said, “It was a great event, one of the best!”
GMC 2019 featured a number of highlights:
Among the highlights at GMC 2019, perhaps the brightest was the reveal of Mathetis, the brand new social media way to share Jesus with younger generations. Conceived four years ago, this event displayed the result of intensive construction over the last two years with an investment of $1,000,000. The GMC launch was limited in the sense that it was offered exclusively to event participants and required an access code. Seventy-five, mainly university students, registered at an earlier “sneak peak” at Harding University Lectureship (October 1), and 245 registered at the GMC (October 11) for an initial total of 320.
After the public launch, Mathetis will be available worldwide. Seekers will find it in two ways: (1) Through relevant online search words about God, Jesus, the meaning of life, the new birth, and many more. (2) Invitations from Christian mentors and from peers. Seekers will find high-quality, engaging videos with exercises that invite peer-sharing via social media. In order to learn how to use Mathetis, Christians will be able to use the Reaching series, a printed curriculum for classes or small groups that search the Scriptures and train in the effective use of Mathetis.
GMC participants immediately grasped Mathetis’s game-changing relevance for world evangelism—especially for the Western world. Indeed, from the time WBS began the worldwide advertising of online Bible courses, the receptivity of the US has stood out as exceptional. That, along with the needs of North America as a mission field, led to intensive research and development for the way youth interact and learn. You may view Mathetis by visiting or downloading the Mathetis app from the Appstore or GooglePlay.
The next GME will be hosted by Harding University at Camp Tahkodah, October 1–4, 2020. The next GMC is scheduled for 2022 with details still to come.
John Reese is chairman of GMC and president of WBS.