Energized in Dallas

I came back about a week ago from a wonderful conference in Dallas, Texas, as people from all over the country and world came together to discuss our work in Rescue Missions. The conference is put on by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, or AGRM, and is designed to bring folks together to learn best practices from each other in the areas of Rescue Mission operations, fundraising, hospitality, outreach, and more.

This was one of the best conferences that I have attended, of any kind. The general sessions were lively. The new Executive Director, John Ashmen, came from a camping background, and he made the general sessions seem like a dynamic evening camp meeting, with lots of fun and great worship, along with the excellent speakers. We heard from Mike Yankoski, a young man who left college to travel with a friend as a couple of people who were homeless, experiencing the trauma of homelessness in several cities in the US. Mike gave us a young person’s perspective on the practice of hospitality and welcoming people as Jesus would. It was encouraging to get his dose of energy, passion and idealism.

My friend, Dave Raley, and I taught a well received seminar on transforming a website. We reported a 121 % increase in giving through our website and folks staying a bit longer at our website after making some changes to cause it to be more interactive, telling stories through video, and creating this blog.

At the conference, Union Rescue Mission received honors for our website (3rd Place), YouTube videos (2nd place), and this blog (1st place). This was very encouraging, but what encouraged me the most was the direction that the AGRM is moving. I can best describe that by sharing their Mission and Vision statements.

This is their new Mission Statement:

AGRM exists to proclaim the passion of Jesus toward the hungry, homeless, abused and addicted; and to accelerate quality and effectiveness in member missions.

I really like the “…proclaim the passion of Jesus…” part of this statement and the “…accelerate the quality and effectiveness…” emphasis. I don’t like the part that describes people by stating their condition and would prefer that the statement read “toward people who are hungry, homeless, abused, and addicted”, as people are much more than their condition and should not be described only with their condition.

Here is the Vision Statement:

AGRM will foster and feed a movement of diverse, energetic disciples who will see the practice of hospitality to the destitute as both a catalyst for life transformation in Jesus and a fundamental expression of their Christian faith, thus propelling the church into the lead role in society’s quest to alleviate homelessness.

I love this Vision Statement! “Diverse, energetic disciples who will see the practice of hospitality …as both a catalyst of life transformation in Jesus and a fundamental expression of their faith…..in society’s quest to alleviate homelessness.”

This is powerful. At Union Rescue Mission, we have always recognized the power that welcoming and hospitality brings to our preached words of the Gospel. We have had a long practice of caring for people and then inviting them to hear the good news, rather than making them hear the good news before being able to have their needs met. People are much more receptive when they voluntarily attend our worship meetings after having their immediate needs taken care of.

I have also always believed that some of my greatest opportunities of worship, my greatest expression of my faith and love for God, are my opportunities to give someone who is hurting and hungry a meal, a fresh cup of cold water, and my love and attention.

I am proud to be a member of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions! Keep going John and TEAM!

What associations/affiliations are you connected with in your hopes to alleviate challenges in our society?

How is the association changing to keep up with the changing times?

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