Advocate: The dictionary might define the term like: a person who speaks or writes in support of or in defense of a person, cause, etc. or a person who pleads for or in behalf of another. I love the idea of an advocate, particularly because John makes reference to it in relation to Christ ~ My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (I John 2:1) In ECO, we have advocates that help us in our work as followers of The Advocate.
MAG advocates are individuals within each of our ECO presbyteries, who help churches get connected into Mission Affinity Groups. The work of our ECO presbyteries is enormous, but one of its responsibilities includes ensuring that each ECO church is assigned to a MAG. I am very thankful for the MAG advocates who reach out to each church in the presbytery and support and encourage the life-giving work of accountability that we’re called to live out together in ECO.
The advocates and I have been meeting via conference call regularly and some interesting insights have been shared there. Some of the insights are challenges. The work and timing of MAG connections can be frustrating. Geography is an obstacle, finding the right fit can be difficult and confusing, and the lack of commitment and interest in MAG work is ever present. Is this one more thing added to our “to-do” list?
Yet, the joys of the MAG work overshadow the challenges. Advocates have shared about the “a-ha” moments of elders who gain a deeper sense of connectionalism that inspires their work and calling as church leaders in new ways. Or, one advocate expressed excitement about a MAG group that has made church planting their focus and are planting a church within an area of need in a community between the MAG congregations. Another advocate told of the experience of a MAG whose church staffs have met together to share about a particular discipleship program in order to learn from one another and be in fellowship with each other. And then another advocate articulated a sense of delight from the deep sense of fellowship experienced when a group of like-minded leaders come together to discuss the challenges faced and the joys experienced in their congregations.
If your church is missing out on all the fun of Mission Affinity Groups, please let me or your MAG advocate know ASAP! If you do not know who the MAG advocate is in your presbytery, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know and I’ll get you in touch with the right person.
I have one final request. If in reading this post, the life-giving work of the MAG advocates sounds like something in which you would like to participate, please let me know. Several of our ECO presbyteries are multiplying in January 2016, and we need more advocates in the newly forming presbyteries!
 actually, dictionary.com defines “advocate” this way!