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Why Alliance Missions Needs a Makover

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The Extreme Makeover team goes into a distressed, inadequate housing situation, captures the story of the people living there, and then with fierce intensity goes to work to bring about mind-boggling change. Walls are knocked out, rooms are added, and new bathrooms and kitchens are installed. Professional decorators add their creative touches. When the project is completed, the people whose house was made over are brought back to see the finished product. That’s a great moment of tearful celebration and exuberant gratitude.

Alliance missions has been around since 1884, when Dr. A. B. Simpson sent out the first workers associated with what eventually grew into The Christian and Missionary Alliance. The Matthew 24:14 core purpose of Alliance missions hasn’t changed in more than 120 years. However, the world of the 21st century is very different from the world of the 19th century.

The pace of change is constantly increasing. As seismic shifts shake our culture and the world in which we live, we must be prepared to change as we seek to advance the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

Alliance missions needs a makeover. The changes of the last 25 years alone call for us to rethink some of our priorities, policies and practices. Like the men of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32), we must discern the times and adapt our structures and strategies to maximize our impact on the Kingdom in the contexts where God places us.

In achieving a makeover, we can increase our impact by discerning the best responses to these changes.

1. Many Alliance World Fellowship partner churches have matured. As churches birthed by God’s work through Alliance missions in the last century mature, new paradigms for partnering with them are required.

2. Most responsive people groups now have access to the gospel. With many easy-to-reach places covered, new models for being Christ’s ambassadors are essential in the difficult, less responsive areas.

3. North American Alliance churches want to do more than just pay for and pray for missionaries. When it comes to missions, more and more C&MA churches are calling for increased opportunities for ownership, relationship and involvement.

4. We must grapple more than ever with the question, “What will it take to reach the least reached?” While a cognitive presentation of core, propositional truths of the gospel is absolutely vital, Christ-compelled compassion must be integrated with it.

5. Members of the emerging generation think in new and different ways. Because requirements for being an Alliance missionary seem so long and complicated to them, a fresh look at the pathways to service is important.

6. _The demographics of our North American church family look very
different from the demographics of Simpson’s day._ More than 30 percent of Alliance churches are composed of ethnicities other than Caucasian, and 21st century Alliance missions must increasingly reflect this reality.

7. We’re in dire need of fresh wind and fresh fire. The idea of more structures and policies has to be replaced by more Holy Spirit anointing, power, fervency in prayer, witness and daring faith.

While some changes have already been made, more are needed. Even this list is far from complete. These are the changes that are becoming clearer to me, that I believe God by His Spirit is prompting. But I’m just one person in The Alliance. What is God saying to others in this diverse, growing part of the Body of Christ? More specifically, what might He want to say through you?

Any vision short of reaching the entire world for Christ is too small. What changes would bring about the synergy needed to accomplish great things for God as an Alliance family of churches? What will it take to bring back our King?

I’m inviting your input as this Alliance missions makeover takes shape. Just as it requires a committed crew to do an Extreme Makeover on the popular television show, this makeover of Alliance missions is going to involve the thoughtful participation of lots of people. There are many dimensions of Alliance missions that are working well and should not be changed. For the seven areas above and others that may be added, the objective is to clearly discern what God is saying and what will best further the fulfillment of His mission, and then to move forward wisely in making helpful changes under His Lordship.

To submit your ideas for changes and to comment on the ones I’ve laid out, send an e-mail to makeover@cmalliance.org. We will carefully consider each suggestion. Alliance partners in Canada and leaders of Alliance World Fellowship will be consulted. The Board of Directors and General Council can help, assuring a makeover that reflects what God wants to do through The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Most of all, my longing is for us to hear from God in this process. Ultimately, the makeover is not about us. It’s about Him, His glory and His Kingdom. The bottom line is, “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” (Isa. 26:8).

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