Feature

Dangers at the Core

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Most Alliance churches have a core group of missions enthusiasts. Thankfully, they are passionate about Acts 1:8 and partners in Dr. A. B. Simpson’s vision for taking the good news to unreached people.

Yet there are some inherent, often unseen, dangers in how this core relates to its community, its church and its leadership. Those who make up the missions core can help assure they have a healthy missions effort by avoiding the following dangers.

Janine and Bill have attended First Alliance* since 1991. Janine has chaired the missions committee for the past seven years, and Bill was a part of a short-term missions team that helped build the Koutiala Hospital in Mali, West Africa. They correspond regularly with more than 20 missionaries. People know Janine and Bill as missions enthusiasts!

In recent months, the pastor has challenged the congregation to new levels of engagement with their growing immigrant community. With the increasing emphasis on reaching this population, Janine and Bill are now considering attending another church.

If a core is passionately concerned about the nations yet demonstrates little concern for its surrounding neighborhoods, it’s unhealthy. The biblical mandate begins in Jerusalem, working its way to the ends of the earth. Core missions enthusiasts must not only voice concern for the local community, but they also must live it!

The Schofields are former Alliance missionaries to Africa. After 12 years of serving there, they joined Crossroads C&MA. Even though the Schofields departed from the Africa more than a decade ago, they have a strong passion for missions.

Since the church has its own gym, the youth pastor formed a basketball league. He has organized several teams with believing students from the church and unbelieving students from the community. The idea is to build relationships while being salt and light.

However, the Schofields saw some of the players smoking and listening to loud music after a game, so they’ve given an ultimatum—either the basketball league shuts down or they leave the church. After all, their children are at Crossroads to be influenced by Christians, not by rowdy, crass, cigarette-smoking students who make no claim to follow Jesus.

A missions core with a reputation for resisting change that enables the church to connect with its community is shooting itself in the foot. Rather than nurturing a commitment to Alliance missions, this kind of core can easily build resistance to missions. Core people can help by being leaders in healthy change, increasing the church’s connection with its community.
During its glory days 30 years ago, Community Alliance Church gave more than $200,000 a year to missions. It had a huge annual Missions Conference that was the highlight of the church’s year. It was known as a missions church.

Interestingly, there have been almost no changes in the missions core group. Many core people have grayed and are facing health challenges. A few have gone to be with the Lord. As the pace of their passing quickens, the question is, “Who will replace them?”

Too often the number of people in the core shrinks, with no new blood or fresh passion to replace them. For Alliance missions to flourish, the core needs to grow. Inviting and integrating new people into the core is essential and must be intentional. Unless the members of Community Alliance do this, their church’s missions emphasis is likely to fade away.
Rev. Gansley came to the C&MA after nine years with another denomination. The more he learned about The Alliance, the more he felt at home.

When he arrived at his new church, he was grateful that a solid missions committee was already in place. With all the other mountains he was climbing in this transition, he was glad he didn’t have to worry about missions. The committee would be responsible for the missions’ emphasis while he cared for other matters.

If the pastor is outside the core, the church’s involvement in missions is not likely to grow. What’s the best way to assure his essential role in the core? Make sure the pastoral couple visits a C&MA field to experience missions firsthand. Sending them on a short-term missions trip, then seeing them become part of the core, would be a great step for their church to take!

No matter what type of core group your church has, God can ignite the hearts of people coming into Alliance churches for missions when the core is healthy and growing. When it’s not, the missions fire isn’t likely to be sustained. Instead, what was once a fire will eventually turn into smoldering embers and finally to ashes.

Let’s stoke the fire! Invite God to make it burn so it illuminates local neighborhoods and distant places where people are waiting to hear, understand and believe the good news!

*all scenarios and names are fictitious

Past Alliance Life Issues

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