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Published on 04 April, 2014

CenterForm: training for the mission field right outside your door

John and Katheryn Heinz are co-directors of CenterForm (Photo by the Mission Society)

John and Katheryn Heinz are co-directors of CenterForm.
(Photo by the Mission Society)

USA (MNN) — You are a missionary. You and all of your church members are missionaries. The call of a Christian is to share the Gospel with everyone around the world, and that is why you are a missionary.

For many, the concept of missions includes flying to third world countries to distribute Bibles and food. But anyone can see the ripe field of the lost all around them.

Thanks to a program facilitated by The Mission Society called CenterForm, churches are learning how to engage the mission field right outside their doors.

John and Katheryn Heinz are the co-directors of CenterForm, which was established in 2013. Katheryn says, “CenterForm is a catalyst for the next generation of local missions.”

Using The Mission Society’s 30 years of experience in world missions, Katheryn says of CenterForm, “We are taking the very same cross-cultural tools that have helped people in mission all over the world, and making them practical and accessible and realistic for everyday Christians here in the United States.”

CenterForm trains small groups that represent churches how to establish relationships with the community around them, and they provide long-term coaching.

“Our name CenterForm actually comes from the idea of centering ourselves on a good foundation of Biblical studies and mission practices, really gaining new eyes and ears to see ourselves and our communities and even our faith with newness and freshness and vision, and then helping us shape and form our ministries,” Katheryn says.

In order to address the changing culture of the world, CenterForm recognizes that some forms of missionary work have to adapt. John says, “One of the things that The Mission Society has promoted and equipped our missionaries with is incarnational ministry. What that means is that we follow the example of Jesus, to enter fully into the human experience.” He continues, “We’re not necessarily changing the Gospel, but what we are [doing] is putting flesh on it and taking it to people where they [are], in ways that are culturally appropriate to them.”

CenterForm came about because of The Mission Society’s relationship with churches the last few years. A missional formation discipleship program founded CenterForm. So far, they have seen 200 people go through the program, and the results have been astonishing.

One woman regained faith in her church, community, and self after CenterForm. Another woman who had felt the call to do something but never felt like a missionary became a leader in her church in discipleship practices. One woman went to seminary to become a Christian counselor, while another switched schools to become a youth pastor for kids at risk. Boxing became a medium for another man to minister to a younger man.

This is what it means to be a missionary in the world of the United States, and it doesn’t always call for a drastic change in life.

Katheryn explains, “People are discovering that they’ve had really successful careers and really particular experiences and neat gifts; and they’re realizing that those can be used for God and missions, and that even though they had no idea what it was that they were to do, God had actually spent their entire lives preparing them for this very thing.”

The training is applicable for just about any type of mission work, and so it is helpful for everyone. Time and time again CenterForm has helped open people’s eyes to how they can adjust their skills to encounter the world for Christ. “It’s very exciting to see people discover that the things that they love to do, the things that make them most alive, are the very things that God wants them to use for the Glory of His kingdom,” Katheryn says.

This is seeing the promise of the Good News come to fruition.

John further explains how their program reshapes the mentality of Americans: “I think people want to have a life that is vibrant as they live out their faith. And I think that the mission field is not this exotic thing far off, that it’s not this thing that only certain people in the church do, but mission is what the church is about, and the mission field is everywhere.”

Many individuals have entered the program assuming that they will go minister to a group of people across town, only to realize that their mission field is their neighborhood or their workplace. Your mission work may already exist in the context of your daily life.

The couple explains that missions is one way to discover what faith means. Many have a yearning to do something great with their faith, and they don’t realize they want to do missions work. It is the desire God put in our hearts when He calls us to be His children.

Based in Atlanta, CenterForm is still in the developing and fundraising stages. It has been working with many organizations and churches, quickly on their way to complete operation.

If you want to use this resource in your church, click on this link. There you can also give to support CenterForm financially. Please be praying that as the program becomes fully functional, it will make a real impact on God’s world with His Gospel. Pray that the Body of Christ will discover more ways to work together. Pray that many churches would utilize this resource. Spread the word to your church and your community.

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