Feature

Q&A

In Search of the Next Alliance President

By Anonymous

On Thursday, October 25, 2012, alife met with Jim Nelson, Chuck Tyree and David Gilmore, the chair, vice chair and secretary of the C&MA Presidential Search Committee, respectively, to discuss the process of screening and selecting potential candidates for the C&MA presidential election at General Council in June 2013.

a: Tell us a little bit about the committee and the task before you.

JN: I have a deep, deep obligation to manage what we do. Not to try to find the best among the group that’s nominated, but to find the man that the Lord has His hand on. I was very pleased when we found our committee. I’m in Maryland, Chuck [Tyree] is in New England, David [Gilmore] is in California, Janet [Howard] is in Florida, Ralph [Trainer] is in Ohio and Jim [Woods] is in Wyoming, so we have almost a wrap around the United States. I like the fact that we have on the committee a female missionary, an individual who has been a missionary and a National Office employee, a pastor who has been in district leadership, someone who has managed and cared for work in several different districts and a layman.

a: What approach did the committee take in trying to identify candidates to lead the C&MA?

JN: I asked the members to ask God to give them a leader from Scripture, a person whom God chose to step into a position of responsibility. I chose Esther; Chuck chose Gideon; David chose Joseph, Janet chose Moses, Jim chose David. Ralph examined several biblical leaders throughout the
Old Testament.

a: What did you glean from this process?

JN: The Scripture that struck me was Esther 4:14; the idea that you’ve come forth for such a time as this. God gave her beauty and then brought her into a position where her courage came out with great strength. Several times Scripture said “she found favor with.” God gave favor upon her and brought her forward. Every time the children of Israel got into trouble, when they cried out to the Lord, He brought a leader forward, someone of His own choice.

Look at Deborah. All the people were afraid and then it says, “I arose, a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7). Then she—she—said, basically, “Listen, what is happening here is not good. We’re cowering back; we need to get strong.” And so God gave a strong leader—through a woman—who rose up, and they won the day. But Deborah was a significant leader before that, judging under the tree before she was called forward.

That led to Gideon. Again, it was a difficult time when God sovereignly came to Gideon and called him “O Mighty Warrior.” Obviously, Gideon saw himself as less than a mighty warrior, but what God saw in the man was greater than what the man saw in himself. When God calls people to ministry, He supplies them with the resources. He’s not looking for capable, skilled, talented people; He is looking for someone who has His heart, and then He supplies them with what they need.

Joseph was always a steward—of his father’s stuff and then of Potiphar’s. He was a steward in prison and in Pharaoh’s presence. He was in charge of what belonged to someone else. So also God’s leader is called of God to be an entrusted man, an entrusted servant. But notice that along the way, Joseph was slandered; he was betrayed when he was sold, and then he was betrayed when he was imprisoned. He was tested, but he persevered and changed from a man of pride to a man of mercy and humility.

a: Based on all this biblical research, what kind of leader do you think The Alliance needs for “such a time as this”?

DG: I think that as a committee we probably are not fully aware of what we need. God knows what we need. I am very grateful for a chairman who is pursuing this in a very spiritual way, with prayer and the study of Scripture. We won’t miss what God has for us, which we potentially could if we try to do this in a business style. We are believing that He will reveal if we ask.

We repeatedly hear that we need a churchman. To me, that means we need someone who can see the vision of what God has for us and has the faith to believe it and the charisma to lead and draw people to follow in that path.

JN: I feel we need a leader who will continue to strengthen the North American church. We are not an institution—and we really haven’t historically been a denomination—so we want someone who will continue to inspire us, care for us and ready us for battle. One term that came to my family as we were praying is a “shepherd/warrior,” which is what David was. It’s what Joshua and Nehemiah were. Also, we need a leader who can paint a clear picture of Jesus and keep renewing our passion for knowing Him. I want to have a leader who remains absolutely thrilled in his worship and unashamed of loving Jesus.

a: What are the greatest challenges our new leader will face?

CT: I see two—which are also opportunities. The first challenge is post-denominationalism. Denominations are on the way out, along with overhead projectors and other things that we have put in the church basement. As a result, we don’t necessarily have people attending or even pastoring C&MA churches who identify deeply with The Alliance. Maybe in a general sort of way, they are with us—but not to the depth of loyalty that we saw 50 years ago.

A young pastor said to me, “Hey, that just doesn’t turn my wheels; that doesn’t really get me moving. Blind funds don’t mean anything to me; I want to see faces.” If this is how some of our Alliance pastors feel, we can no longer assume that Alliance loyalty will sustain our future as a movement.

The second challenge has to do with our message and mission. In one sense, our next president needs to be like our founder, A. B. Simpson. Simpson never intended to start or lead a denomination. He rallied people around a mission and a message. This message so thrilled people’s hearts that they were willing to abandon whatever else they had been doing and go to places like Beulah Beach and take off their diamond rings and watches and put them in the offering plate.

We need to re-envision The Alliance. I don’t mean that we leave our roots in any way or that we change our message in any way. Simpson said that if the person in the pew is not as motivated as the missionary on the field, this endeavor will fail. So that young pastor—whether carrying out ministry to his local community or rallying his congregation around a global Alliance effort—must so identify with our message and our mission that he will sell anything, he will pray all night, he’ll sacrifice, he’ll send, he’ll go!

Our next president has to be a leader who continues to unite us around a mission and a message rather than a denomination or a brand. We are not necessarily looking for skill, capacity, caliber or even pedigree. What we’re looking for most is a “spiritual essence”—which has to do with God’s anointing.

a: Prayer has clearly been a key element of this process. How can the Alliance family join you in praying for the selection of our next Alliance leader?

DG: We would like to invite the Alliance family to join us in prayer every Monday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and to fast and pray the first Monday of every month until the election in June. We and the 2013 General Council need the guidance and wisdom of God for this important time.

—alife Staff

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