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Our Time, Our Hour, Our Season

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One of the hardest meetings I attended my first six months as president was when I sat down with our international ministry staff and heard the “backroom conversation” about how we form the list of openings for the next wave of international workers (i.e., missionaries) that we hope to send. The list begins on the “field” with our international teams as they discuss and pray over their needs and the opportunities before them. They cull down that list to their top priorities and then send it to their director, who culls it down further. Finally it comes to the National Office, where in this meeting the list is pared down once again. Though some filtering is necessary, my spirit is disturbed! Somebody sees an opportunity for a church planter, somebody needs a Bible teacher, somebody wants evangelism help that they’re not going to get. Every year, dozens of requests for new workers go unfilled. Our response to the need has been tepid. The list shrinks from a big funnel to a little spout of workers that we’re able to send.

I hated that meeting.

For too long, we have not been able to dream. Since the mid-1990s, inflation has outpaced giving to the Great Commission Fund (GCF). Our ability to do the work assigned to us has decreased. We’ve only met budget once in the last decade. As a result, we’re sending out a declining number of international workers—hundreds fewer today than in 1988.

Watch Dr. Stumbo’s Thursday morning address

In the last six years, church-planting grants in the United States have been reduced by 85 percent (from $1.4 million to $200,000)—not because we believe less in church planting but because of a weakened GCF.

Dr. Paul Bubna, one of our beloved past presidents, spoke at Council in 1996, giving us a call, a key moment for The Alliance:

. . . at the heart of this denomination is a missionary movement. It began over a hundred years ago. . . . And I understand my role to be to encourage and to keep that missionary movement alive in the midst of this denomination.

The historical precedent is that it’s going to tend to get swallowed up if we don’t take leadership steps to keep it alive. What evidences there are of the process could be debatable. Certainly one of them is there has to be some relationship between where our giving is and where the mission is. And I think most of us are aware that not many years ago, close to 30 percent of every dollar given in every Alliance churches across this country went to the Great Commission. . . . [T]hat number has shrunk year after year until now it’s at about 11 percent; 11 percent of all Alliance giving in all of our churches now is designated to the Great Commission Fund. If that tendency remains, we will soon slip under 10 percent.

I don’t know how you feel about that, but I consider that to be the magic number because 10 percent is the tithe. And when we as a denomination no longer even tithe of our money to mission, dear friends, in my mind we will have reached the point where we are no longer a missionary church.

So you are wondering, “Dr. Bubna said that two decades ago. How are we doing now?”

Sadly, we now give 7 percent. Seven percent of U. S. C&MA giving goes to the GCF.

Friends, we can do better. I wouldn’t have taken this office if I thought I was the undertaker of a dying movement. The call of God is still upon us. The Alliance is one of His end-times families for accomplishing the Great Commission.

This is our time, this is our hour, this is our season. The church has been trusted to us for this moment—so what are we going to do? Will we once again rise to the challenge of taking the love of Jesus to the neediest places of this planet?

As your president, I’m asking us to take this question to our local congregations: What needs to happen in our church so that we could give at least 10 percent to the GCF? That simple and significant conversation would shape our future.

The follow-up question is: What would happen if every Alliance church rose to this 10 percent challenge? The answer: We could dream again! More peoples reached; new expressions of church planting; greater advances among the diaspora in America; new initiatives; repairing broken walls by strengthening ministries that already exist; releasing entrepreneurs; fully supporting our current mission teams that are understaffed . . . and this is just the beginning of what could be accomplished if we rise up together.

Our current decline is fixable and I haven’t even brought up the word “sacrifice” yet—because this isn’t. This is just, according to Dr. Bubna, a solid biblical standard for showing that missions and church planting matter to us enough to tithe to the global work of The Alliance. The Board of Directors has passed an official motion stating that 10 percent is the minimum standard of giving to the GCF from every U.S. Alliance church. I’m calling this family to that standard.

The family of The Christian and Missionary Alliance has a decision to make. Will we become a generic denomination with limited interest in reaching an unreached world for Christ, increasingly using our resources upon ourselves? To decide this, we don’t have to do anything; we’re already sliding there. However, if we decide to be who God has raised us up to be, to do what He called us into existence to do, a trend must be reversed; a trajectory must be stopped. Becoming the Alliance God intended requires our leadership, our faith, our courage, our will, our obedient response to the Spirit. Please join me in this.

This historic movement of the Alliance family has eternal significance in the lives of people across this globe. I like the heart of the Alliance that our mothers and fathers passed on to us. What kind of Alliance are we going to pass on to the generation that follows?

Alliance family, let’s rise!

—Adapted from Dr. Stumbo’s Thursday morning address at Alliance Council 2015.

3 responses to Our Time, Our Hour, Our Season

  1. I know we are all struggling with our finances and with a not so bright economic future. However, God’s challenge to his people, in the Old Testament, is to tithe in order to live His supernatural abundant provision. No matter what you believe about tithing, God’s promise is true in both Testaments: He will outgive us, always. The challenge is for those who already give, to keep praying and giving, and for those who are not giving their tithes today, to start doing so out of a grateful heart and in faith.

  2. John, Thank you so much for the challenge! I am working right now with our missions committee to put a plan together to challenge our people to tithe on their offerings to the church to the GCF. If everyone were to add 10% to their weekly giving our church GCF giving would more than double from last year! I am praying right now to see God’s hand work through our people!

  3. Since I am on a fixed income and give more than 10% to 20% to my church and mission projacts where do you suppose one would be able to fund more? Just because the organization wants more, you may not know that is not just a big of a great commission here at home. It would be nice if all were rich and could fund as much as the need elsewhere.
    I pray that those here and on the greater field have to be more inovative in the outreach and commitment to get the job done. We are working on a bare bones budget so we can do more than could be imagined with so little.
    How do you expect to give workable ideas to the local church to do what you are expecting?
    I pray that God give you answeres you are seeking to fill the need.
    In the 1950’s churches were sending out many more missionaries than today.

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