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High Risk, High Yield

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Achieving God’s purposes means taking faith-filled risks. This always involves change (see Heb. 11:6).

Risk taking and being a member of The Alliance go hand in hand. Ever since our founder, Dr. A. B. Simpson, risked foregoing the security of his upscale Presbyterian church in New York City in the late nineteenth century in order to reach the masses of immigrants arriving at the harbor, the C&MA has been trailblazing new pathways for mobilizing a mighty army of “God’s irregulars.” The legacy of our founder’s commitment to reaching and empowering immigrants for the fulfillment of the Great Commission still impacts our ministry. Let me share two examples of how leaders in our denomination are taking faith-filled risks to achieve God’s purposes.

Last November the leaders of the six ethnic districts and 10 ethnic associations of the U.S. C&MA, including the leaders of the NEXUS ministry, convened in Colorado Springs for an intercultural ministries consultation concerning the empowerment of younger generations. The goal was “to agree on a pathway for empowering younger generations in our ethnic districts and associations.” We decided that by the year 2015 “we will empower our younger generations for greater national and global impact.”

In the context of our growing denominational multicultural diversity, this is risky business. Nevertheless, our leaders overcame some potentially divisive obstacles in an inspiring and God-honoring way and agreed on three fundamental objectives: 1) foster and develop healthy new paradigms and models for planting next-generation churches; 2) empower next-generation leaders to fulfill God’s call within the context of their local church or ministry; 3) recruit, resource and train next-generation leaders for diverse ministry models. Each leader left with the task of contextualizing these objectives to their particular ministry situation and implementing an effective action plan throughout the next four years. I am confident that their combined efforts will have a very positive impact on the ability of our denomination to achieve God’s purposes both here and abroad.

The second example of risk taking has to do with the recent signing by our president, Dr. Gary Benedict, of a Memorandum of Understanding between the C&MA and the World Relief Corporation of the National Association of Evangelicals. The overall intent is to equip members of C&MA churches to view immigration to the United States from a biblical and missional perspective and to develop, as the Lord leads, programs in local churches that will serve the growing immigrant population more effectively. Our denominational leaders have welcomed this initiative as an opportunity for providing our churches a way to live out the values of Christian compassion to our immigrants, a faith-filled risk that we as a denomination must take.

This collaborative effort will provide our churches and district offices with access to World Relief consultants and resources, including the “Welcoming the Stranger” curriculum for Sunday school or small-group discussion. District superintendents will receive more information on available avenues of engagement, in collaboration with World Relief, on the issue of immigration.

Taking faith-filled risks always involves change, starting with our hearts and minds. Let us remember these words from the writer of the book of Hebrews: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (6:11).

Therefore, being true to our Alliance heritage and to the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) that preceded us, let us seize every opportunity to exercise our faith and commit to giving our best effort for advancing God’s purposes in every area of our lives and ministry. Very soon we will be welcoming back our King in joint adoration with fellow believers in a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language, who with a loud voice will say: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev. 7:10).

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