Connect with Scott Parrish: Missions Specialist
Fun Facts About Scott Parrish
He grows heirloom vegetables- “the old timey, non-hybrid, great tasting, but finicky items”.
He enjoys eating local cuisine no matter where he is in the world, and occasionally cooks based on these interests.
What services does the Missions Specialist offer to local Churches?
I am in a new position as a mission strategist as I serve North Georgia churches and work with the UMC’s Global Ministries. The emphasis in both capacities is to help congregations take strong “next steps” in mission which transform both church and community. I can assist a church, or cluster of churches, in taking their first steps or next steps in mission. Whether you are an old pro in mission or a rookie we all need each other in this effort which is well beyond any one person or congregation.
These days it is important to hear mission as much more than just projects! Sometimes we fall into a trap of “doing” and forget that in mission we are “being” in the Mission of God which can take many forms. I’m continually trying to help folk think about this in new and creative ways that match the person! Not everyone is called to be a carpenter or a doctor, but unfortunately, we too often think of mission as something that only fits certain people and not many others. The reality is that we are all called to be in the Mission of God, and as we experiment with that and try on what it means for us to follow Christ in the everyday, real world, we will have wonderful, unique opportunities that match our talents and availability. We are called to love God and to love our neighbor, and outreach gives us a way to stretch in our faith and in our living as we take the next steps of following Christ.
Goals for Bridges
In North GA I am leading the effort to get 50 churches as partners on every one of our international mission Bridges. The great opportunity with Bridges is for at least 50 North GA churches to be part of a shared, connectional mission effort that engages congregations to study and pray, to go on a team or receive a team from our international sister conference, or to fund some aspect of the partnership. Such a shared effort has tremendous potential for us as we work together more effectively in mission, and as we learn about the challenges and opportunities in long term partnerships for Methodist churches in other parts of the world.
Let's Meet and Share
Of course, the first base of mission is always in the community of a church, so I am also available to assist congregations in doing effective outreach in the “first Bridge” of their own neighborhood and area. We have so many churches doing exciting, transformational missions, and my role allows me to learn about your church and community and celebrate what has occurred, share ideas and best practices tailored to your ministry learned from other churches in North GA and around the US & world, and encourage and coach congregations and mission teams in next steps of outreach that follow in the way of Christ and a strong witness for the church and community today.
My Role with GBGM
My work with the UMC’s Global Ministries I’m honored to be part of our missional sending agency which works with both long term and short term mission. My primary focus with GBGM is to assist churches, districts, and conferences in advancing their mission strategy using mission celebrations as a driver in the annual outreach process. With Global Ministries headquarters moving to Atlanta in the fall of 2016 we have an exceptional opportunity to continue growing as a connectional missions movement and North Georgia has a great opportunity to become even more active in this vital effort.
What do you most enjoy about your role in Connectional Ministries?
I am allowed the great privilege and opportunity to be a true circuit rider! Most of my work is in various congregations and communities, so I get to plunge beyond the superficial into the realities of mission and ministry. I am allowed the honor of discovering with others what God is doing in many churches and communities, and to encourage and coach churches in their next faithful steps of following in the way of Christ in God’s mission. I travel with an air mattress in my car, and have been known to often sleep in churches! What better way to know a church and community; to be aware of whether a church can accommodate a mission team or disaster response group, to join the ranks of previous Methodist clergy who would learn about a people and place in the same way. I’m allowed the honor of seeing the Kingdom of God at work throughout North GA and around the world. I’m honored to be part of the encouragers of the continuation of the Methodist movement as we share together in the good calling and work of sharing Good News in word and deed.
What is your most important asset that you wish all churches knew about?
I have spent 25 years serving churches, have worked in churches in three conferences, have been in long term mission partnerships in 10 countries, always from the perspective of mission and ministry in the local church and community context. So, my experience and interest is how to advance a congregation in mission. This is not contained to any certain size church, or particular theology, or congregation with certain assets. The potential is for every congregation to be in mission in ways that transforms individual and family lives, the community and various institutions present, and the life of the Christian and church itself. This is vitally important to me because, from my beginning in the faith until now, I am a product of a church in mission.
I grew up outside the life of church and faith, and came to Christ when I was 19 years old, having no church or Bible or faith background. God started stirring in my life, in ways that even this then stubborn atheist recognized, and I turned to a couple of trusted friends in a church that had reached out to my family during a time of our need. I know first-hand the impact and long term results of a congregation open and engaging of its neighborhood and consistently active in mission.
I’ve seen this dynamic played out repeatedly throughout the years in many contexts and countries. This sort of outreach and witness is a holistic, authentic, powerful approach which intersects everything from the ministry program of a church to the everyday life of church members in the community. It is now a joy to encourage, teach, preach, and coach in ways that assist congregations in continuing the mission of God as shown to us in Christ for this generation in every community where we have a United Methodist church.
How do people arrange to meet with you?
I’m most available by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org
) and social media (Facebook
) as my job often involves travel. Get in touch with me well in advance of when you would like for me to visit as I like to cluster visits of churches and mission leaders in the areas I visit. I can meet you in person, by phone, or via Skype.
What are your top 5 recommended resources?
1)Books- This is a tough question as I tend to tailor to specific needs. Great mission reading runs the gamut from theology to practice to biographies to small group studies. My current top picks include “A Mission Journey: A Handbook for Volunteers,” the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission “Team Leader Handbook” which is essential for anyone leading local, national, or international mission, and an old standard in “Basic Steps Toward Community Ministry” by Carl Dudley. Of course, Bob Lupton’s “Toxic Charity” has been a hot resource the last few years and everyone involved in mission should be familiar with this. The big question, once you deconstruct helping mission and move beyond band-aids is “Now what?!” “Faithful Witnesses: United Methodist Theology of Mission” is one of my favorites and useful if you enjoy theology. The necessary relation of mission to outreach and evangelism is often a reading topic for me. I’m currently reading “The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship, & Community” by Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, & Dwight J. Friesen. A long time personal favorite related to creation, community, and mission is found in Wendell Berry’s writing and speaking. There are LOTS of useful books about mission, and as always, the great challenge is to put it into practice.
2)YOU! Your expertise in your community and church is often a key untapped resource. I like to learn from folk and discover your community through a variety of local perspectives. Other local experts including teachers, police officers, social workers, convenience store clerks, etc. are fun to discover. Together we can write the next chapter in local mission and church development.
3)Internet- www.umcmission.org or www.umvim.org are loaded with inspirational mission stories, resources to help your practice of mission, and a network of missional co-conspirators and well worth your time.
4)Local Mission trainers & coaches in your congregation or district. I continue to discover and nurture a network of mission leaders who multiply my efforts and grow the leadership of the Kingdom of God. Mission is best experienced as risky, relational, personal, tailored to your need and context, and engaging your church and community in following Christ.
5)Bridge leaders and international mission leaders! The both/and of mission is that we learn the most about loving God and loving our neighbor as we dig deep locally AND globally. These experiences feed each other and deepen one another as we learn from our brothers and sisters around the world and apply what we learn in our own neighborhoods at home.
Connectional Ministries staff travel across the conference, providing resources and assistance, and exchanging ideas and dynamic discussions regarding various areas of ministry at no cost to the church or clergy.