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Envision

Helping people come alive in Jesus

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There is a growing disconnect between people’s faith journey and their church experience. Today, many are dreaming of “something more” to provide the language and direction to follow Jesus in a way that is both authentic and meaningful.

Today’s believers are yearning for everyday ways to engage in God’s mission to redeem creation back to Himself. They long to be part of something bigger than themselves and live significant lives. While they still believe in the church’s role in their faith journeys, Christians of all ages are growing in their courage to ask questions, express doubts, and find fresh expressions for fulfilling God’s call on their lives.

In addition, our U.S. culture has become an increasingly complex landscape in which to live out our faith. Ideologies and standards that could once be assumed about people of faith are no longer normative. Moral boundaries of sexuality are blurred. Convictions once held firmly are now questioned with vigor. A ministry leader’s voice is one of many amidst a digital sea of information and opinions, accessible at the click of a button.

While we may not agree with or like these realities, we must acknowledge their existence and impact on our faith. In short, we are walking through new cultural frontiers, embracing fresh expressions of what it looks like to follow Jesus while holding onto timeless truths that serve as guides through this journey.

This, dear Alliance family, captures the purpose of Envision, a ministry of The Alliance that specializes in missional engagement. Our dream is to help people come alive in Jesus—whether they are committed members of an Alliance church, disillusioned persons who feel like outsiders, or those who want to influence the world around them. We want to equip the individual and resource the church to meaningfully and courageously engage in God’s mission. We do this by designing experiences that move people and shape culture.

We hope to move people personally in their own spiritual formation and physically through practical involvement in God’s global mission. As people are moved, God will use them to influence the cultural institutions they touch: marriages, families, callings, finances, relationships, vocations, social responses, and more.

The experiences Envision designs fit into two categories: labs and sites.

Labs

Labs focus primarily on faith experiences and faith development. Through these encounters, we hope to instigate intergenerational conversations about faith and church. We hope to introduce new ideas, give voice to disillusionments about faith and church, provide guidance for discovering one’s calling, and inspire lives of faith-filled risk.

Currently, our labs include three main experiences:

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Participants at the Paris Summit (Photo by Carson Nyquist)

Summit: The goal of the summit is to nurture the souls and skills of rising influencers. Whether young men and women from our Alliance churches, students from our Alliance colleges, or couples/singles leading the way in ministry or mainstream contexts, we hope to better equip them in a way that helps others come alive too. Below is a brief testimonial from a Paris Summit participant:

“Our trip to Paris has literally changed our lives. [My wife and I] feel so empowered as leaders, ready to use our talents and skills for Kingdom change. There is so much that I have taken away from our trip, including leadership skills that I use on a daily basis (seriously, my work setting is so much different now that I have the proper language and tools to articulate what I need to say), and I can’t forget the whole freedom and joy thing!

“I led worship last Sunday, and I have never felt so free and alive in the Spirit during worship . . . . It has been so good, and I know it’s because my total focus is not on my performance or what others think, but it’s on Jesus.”

While the summit’s primary goal is to equip young influencers, it also exists to resource churches by providing ways for them to develop their young leaders.

Campaigns: The annual Envision Campaign focuses on a social issue or cause around the world. Our hope is to raise awareness on a specific social issue (human trafficking, clean water, refugees, poverty) and provide people within our Alliance churches an opportunity to respond. Each campaign partners with an Alliance ministry already engaged in these specific issues, allowing churches to visit the ministry through short-term trips or internships. As one Alliance pastor notes,

“As a youth and young adult pastor, I’m always looking for opportunities to engage the next generation. Millennials and those who come after them want to change the world and be part of a movement. Envision is a movement, and the campaigns are a vehicle to connect our young adults and high schoolers to God’s work in the world but overflow into the greater community as well. Envision wants to engage the world in new and innovative ways.

“We participated in the clean water campaign. During our service we had some reps from Envision come and speak, and then in the evening we did a concert with an award-winning musician that was a great way to connect with the larger community. Afterward, we took a group of high school and young adults to Burkina Faso where we could actually see the clean-water well that Envision had drilled. It was a great way to see how the money we raised actually had a practical benefit.”

These campaigns have a holistic impact. They provide opportunities to address both physical and spiritual needs. For example, through our Water for Africa Campaign, we not only drilled 17 wells but also built 17 churches in those communities. These efforts provided access to both physical and spiritual water.

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A clip from Scissors + Glue (Photo by Carson Nyquist)

Films: Our documentary series called Scissors + Glue is meant to give voice to the Millennial generation, allowing them to share their hopes and dreams for the church and their faith as well as share their doubts and frustrations. The goal of these films is to create intergenerational conversations and better understanding.

“In our weaker moments, Boomers like me can fear that the faith of Western Christianity will end with our generation,” says U.S. Alliance President John Stumbo. “I’m delighted to point to Scissors + Glue as a powerful and positive expression of the fact that faith in Jesus is alive within the hearts of these thinking, passionate young adults. By Millennials, for Millennials, Scissors + Glue will make a contribution for the church committed to reaching all generations.”

We hope that these documentaries will inspire messy conversations that grow our faith. Watch our latest Scissors + Glue film on Millennials and the Church.

Sites

While Envision Labs focus primarily on faith experiences and faith development, Envision Sites are all about faith practice. Our 22 sites create opportunities for people to engage and participate in what God is doing globally.

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Envision Site: Chicago (Photo by Carson Nyquist)

Sites are integrated into Alliance fields and districts, helping to grow the local church, reach unreached people groups, and disciple those who participate in short-term trips or internships.

The four essential elements of a short-term trip or internship at a site include:

Ministry: Ministry activities led by our site coordinators must be indigenous, sustainable, and impactful. We are careful that a team isn’t merely painting the same building 17 times but instead is part of something that actually helps shape the culture of that society. For example, our site in Cleveland has helped local churches establish a community garden and a center that has brought restoration to families and reconciliation among diverse people groups in that city.

Discipleship: Whether people are at a site for seven days or two years, the experience will influence their spiritual formation, helping them to become more devoted Jesus followers. Discipleship at our Sites includes experiencing hands-on ministry, journeying through formative curricula, and living life with caring mentors.

Hospitality: We want the experience at a site to be challenging—but for the right reasons. Our Envision staff works hard to create a welcoming atmosphere that pays attention to the details of the experience. Our site leaders are responsible to care for the needs of each team or individual—housing, meals, transportation, and ministry logistics.

Partnership: We deeply value our partnerships with Alliance churches and/or international fields. Whether coming alongside church plants, national churches, ministry centers, or outreach initiatives, Envision is committed to serving our broader Alliance family.

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Water for Africa Campaign in Burkina Faso (Photo by Carson Nyquist)

Whether creating experiences for our labs or sites, Envision’s dream remains the same: to help people come alive in Jesus. And we are thankful that as this movement has grown, God has brought forth fruit:

  • In 2014, more than 200,000 people heard the gospel through Envision Sites.
  • At least 1,000 people received Christ through the Water for Africa Campaign.
  • Alliance churches and youth groups donated more than $200,000 to different ministries worldwide through our three campaigns to date.
  • More than 60,000 people have viewed our first two films in the Scissors + Glue documentary series, which has led to healthy dialogue, intergenerational understanding, and in some cases, decisions for Christ.
  • More than 100 young influencers have attended our first two summits, from which we have seen lives healed, people freed, callings clarified, and skills sharpened.

We are thankful for what has taken place in recent years, and we anticipate God doing even greater things as we move forward. We are thankful for the Alliance family and our place within it. We look forward to finding ways we can partner with you, and together, move people and shape culture.

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