Letter to the church

“As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you”John 20:21

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PASTORAL LETTER TO THE CHURCH
Louis L. King, President
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
May 28,1983

“As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” John 20:21

We are the generation with the very real prospect of bringing back our Lord. It is my desire that while we so energetically spread the gospel we are spiritually worthy to be its bearers. In this spirit I greet you, the licensed workers and laity of our fellowship comprising The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

“(It is) not our aim to establish costly institutions, schools, churches and hospitals as much as an aggressive, evangelical movement that will sweep over the heathen world and preach the gospel as quickly as possible to every creature.” -Albert B. Simpson

The respected leader of our Alliance church in Zaire, Rev. Kuvuna ku Konde Mwela, recently spoke to our headquarters staff as he and Mrs. Kuvuna were returning to Africa. This venerable man of God, some eighty years of age, asked: “How will it be when you meet the Lord? Will you stand before Him empty-handed? The Lord will ask you, ‘Where are your fruits?’ Then you will call for the Africans to stand by you and you will show Him the reward of your faithfulness.”

We rejoice in the century-long record of God’s blessing upon The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Zaire and elsewhere. We look toward the fulfillment of still more victorious missionary endeavors with joy in whatever time the Lord provides us.

We rightly review our past with gratitude and humility. But on this threshold of our second century of ministry it is appropriate to reexamine the Alliance’s reason for being.

Reaffirmation

Article II of the Objectives of The Christian and Missionary Alliance clearly states that the C&MA “is committed to world missions, stressing the fullness of Christ in personal experience, building the church and preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

I wish therefore to define and declare again this singular dynamic that has impelled the Alliance from its inception to the present because it must continue to motivate us on into the new century of ministry. I reaffirm the primacy of this great vision.

The genius of the Alliance is its focus upon Christ Himself. The chief outgrowth of this centrality of Christ is not merely an organization with missionary activity. It is a missionary organization. Being fully rooted in Christ, it functions in full obedience to the Great Commission. These two aspects, expressed in the phrases “Jesus Only” and “So Send I You:” fuse into the distinctive characteristic of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
In this spirit we have taken the unprecedented step of working to double our worldwide constituency in the decade culminating with our centennial observance four years hence. Alliance churches in fifty nations and regions of the world have joined us in this great challenge.

Tensions

We need to deal with tensions regarding the priority of missions.

First, let me comment upon what Rev. David Moore notes in a paper he prepared while still professor of missions at our Alliance seminary and before becoming vice-president for Overseas Ministries. He observes that “historically the C&MA has developed from a missionary society into a missionary denomination. Objectives, programs and concerns have broadened accordingly. Missions emphasis has shifted, almost imperceptibly at first, until now it is evident in our giving, our involvement, our priorities… The issue is not only what priority missions should have in the Alliance, but what priority should be given evangelism, church planting in North America, education and other vital concerns.”

These perceptions are correct. We have, as he points out, shifted from missionary society objectives to denominational objectives. This makes us vulnerable to a lessening of the missions priority. We have also shifted from missionary funding to denominational funding. “We have evolved into a denomination, but our funding structure is still that of a missionary society," he says.

Mr. Moore continues: “There is no question historically about the priority of missions in The Christian and Missionary Alliance from the time of formation through its earlier period. The Alliance was born out of missionary passion. Probably we would all agree that missions is still at the heart of the Alliance. Certainly for the generations we represent.

“But the tension concerning missions priority has been with us for a long time and it is growing. It sometimes surfaces unexpectedly. That such tensions should develop, as we have moved from a missionary society to a denomination, is inevitable. In order to reduce it, we need first to recognize it.”

How shall we come to grips with this issue? What are to be our priorities? What is our reason for existing? How do we view the missionary mandate of The Christian and Missionary Alliance?

If the Alliance is to cope successfully with these and other questions, we must do so with flexibility and insights given of God. Methods and strategies may change, but God's directive does not. Often we are caught defending methods when we should be accenting principles.

Roots

The roots of missionary motivation need attention.

Cultivating the depth of experience in Christ, whether as an individual or as a congregation, is essential to missionary spirit and action. These roots grow out of fundamental beliefs of the Alliance.

  • The truth that people are lost without Christ, that Christ is the Redeemer, that the lost suffer an eternal hell and that the righteous have a blessed hope-all this we testify to.
  • The sanctification we teach constitutes the setting aside and the infilling of lives for power, blessing and witness. This is the truest preparation for missions.
  • The oil of healing is a blessed truth we convey to broken bodies and spirits. It is part of the Great Commission to carry healing to the hurting.
  • Christ’s promise is “Behold, I come quickly.” His words afford hope in this tense age. Indeed, hope seems always to be highest for believers when the future seems shortest. “Hope does not need a sunny future,” declares one church leader. Hope does not come from human sources. It comes from the Scriptures and their promises, from Christ’s death and resurrection. He is coming soon—perhaps today.

To the degree that we weave these rich truths together and allow Christ to control our lives and ministries, we shall become people of God and our outreach constitute true missions.

Structure

Missions is intrinsic to the structure of the Alliance.

A decade ago I asked delegates attending an international missions conference: “Has denominational administration been the best vehicle for achieving a worldwide witness of the gospe1? Has the structured church leadership demonstrated necessary sympathy for missions, and do they have a record of achieving mobility?

“The answer of Western church history is not favorable. It shows that official leadership of the church can be out of sympathy with the missionary enterprise. Look at the disapproval and downright opposition that Justinian Weltz and William Carey and others since them received from church officers.

“Examine the various Reformation churches in Europe including the church in England. Many of them do not conduct foreign missionary work from within the framework of the church organization. It is structurally and officially absent. They have not knit missionary work with the rest of the church’s program.

“It is only the independent association of people within these churches that sustains missions through mission societies. Their money is not raised centrally. These voluntary agencies are not in any way controlled by the official administrative machinery of the church.

“It is primarily in North America that denominations recognize foreign missions within their organizational structure. But these came into being only after many mission societies had been established. With the passage of time, though, denominations have accumulated so many institutional and self-serving interests that missionary work does not receive the goodwill and concentration it deserves.

“Viewed historically and currently, missions has not received adequate, sympathetic and financial consideration within the structure of the church. Church governments greet this matter with great reluctance.”

The Christian and Missionary Alliance, however, was not established as a mission divorced from the normal activity of a church, but a church which had within it the life and function of a mission. In fact, the mission came first and the church grew out of the mission. Only in reference to this end for which the Alliance was created can it be understood.

And we lift up this chief characteristic of the C&MA once again, not only as a reminder to our own members but as a challenge to the evangelical church at large.

Support

In order to implement missions, which is intrinsic to the nature and structure of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, we teach and practice the blessing and effectiveness of the faith principle of support.

Alliance constituents understand the scriptural principle that God owns everything they have. The question therefore is not how much to give, but how much to keep. And giving becomes a grace-a cardinal grace of the Christian life.

When we give we do so by faith and the transaction is between the individual and God, not between the individual and the local church or the denomination. Hence, we call the method the “Faith Promise.”

As our founder, Dr. A. B. Simpson, defined it, the Faith Promise “is God’s method of Christian giving, a fair proportion stretched to larger proportions by faith and loving sacrifice.”

This act takes our view of missions a long step beyond understanding alone-it deepens it to commitment and lights it with a special joy. It translates into genuine, free, unremorseful giving distinguished by cheerfulness, which is the mark of Christian giving. It assists the individual in setting his own goals and helps him remain on schedule to accomplish what he has purposed in his heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).

The missionary conference, as far as the Alliance is concerned, is the centerpiece of our method of raising missionary support. In a variety of ways we are trying to improve this method. But even with such advances, it will continue to be the focal point at which time our people make their Faith Promises, receive inspiration and have their vision for the lost enlarged.

Motivation

The Alliance seeks cultivation of a compelling missionary spirit within its membership.

New people coming into our fellowship ought to sense daily this overriding missionary motivation. Those who have regularly supported the work of evangelism through Alliance missions also should be reassured of the continuing centrality of missions. In a word, all persons within and associated with the Alliance should take note of the importance and stature of missionary outreach in our fellowship.

The chief call of the hour is to an accelerated missionary activity. Newly organized churches should focus immediately upon the Great Commission. To organize a group of believers, erect a church sanctuary and develop a growing membership do not constitute an Alliance church. It must also weave a missionary vision into its character.

In like manner, historic Alliance churches, large and effective in many ways but not expanding in missionary outreach, are not realizing the full scope of the Alliance vision. Along with successful church planting and growing must develop simultaneously a vision of the whitened harvest fields.

Dr. Simpson wrote: “(It is) not our aim to establish costly institutions, schools, churches and hospitals as much as an aggressive, evangelical movement that will sweep over the heathen world and preach the gospel as quickly as possible to every creature.” This was our founder’s vision and it continues with undiminished splendor our own for the present new century.

Admonition

We must always be on guard against impeding forces.

Some of the impediments are these:

  • decreasing eagerness for world evangelism
  • neglecting non-Christian frontiers
  • becoming institutional-minded, with excessive concerns for improving our resources
  • devoting ourselves to maintenance of the church alone
  • downgrading missions because of other demands on finances
  • contributing an increasingly larger proportion of our resources to work among Christians and in Christian institutions
  • applying an enlarging proportion of our finances to support our organizational and institutional life without any evangelistic or missionary purpose
  • forgetting the power of expectant prayer for missions.

Yielding to Satan's intimidation causes our spirits to sink into despair. Claims of costs too high, workers too few, time too short, risks too many, mistakes too serious-these are all strategies of Satan to deflect us from our goal: evangelize the world.

“The situation can be cleared up,” said Dr. A. W. Tozer, “by our coming to ourselves and listening again to the voice of God instead of to the voice of the newscaster. Our commission to preach the gospel to every creature is still in force, and obviously is to remain in force until ‘the end of the world.’

“No political developments anywhere on earth can nullify Christ's imperative command. It is not our business to sit back and try to guess the outcome of this or that revolution or political maneuver. Our business is to obey the Lord, to go and keep on going until He sweeps down to call His workers home.”

Vision

Ask the Lord for something greater than the accomplishments of our first onehundred years as we move toward our second century.

Every member of the human family has not yet had the opportunity to know Jesus Christ. Large numbers forever lose this opportunity every day. This immeasurable tragedy would overwhelm us with pain were it not for the deep joy that accompanies the prospect of winning increasingly large numbers to Christ.

“It is the work of the church to repeat the gospel message to each succeeding generation until it is accepted or rejected by those who hear.” said Tozer.

We have innovative technology and tools being snatched up and employed by every agent of the world, the flesh and the devil. Let us also keep abreast of technical breakthroughs in order to enhance our ministry to this generation. Why should not the church utilize them to hasten the day of Christ’s return by trumpeting the gospel to every corner of the earth by every means?

Can we truly expect greater missionary accomplishments? There are those who say our planet has only a short future. Shall we face so stark a prospect by lamenting our own fate? No, there is no time for that Instead, we should offer hope to those for whom there is no hope. The humanist has no answer. We do.

The church needs to shake herself out of having nothing to say to the world. Her once robust shout of assurance in some quarters may have faded to an apologetic whisper, but it is now time for her to revive and “let the earth hear His voice.”

We have heard the voices of psychologists and politicians, men of war and diplomats, the scientists, theologians and educators, plus many others. It is time now to carry out our mission and let the world hear our positive voices of hope and salvation.

God grant that this work never lose its simplicity, self-sacrifice and separation. Our founder laid down such guidelines. We reaffirm them 95 years later and look for greater accomplishments.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we ask our people to see that missions is the chief business of every Christian. The one responsibility of the church is to evangelize the world. In The Christian and Missionary Alliance the first priority of every minister, congregation and Christian is to work for the evangelization of the world.

As our esteemed founder said, we have no excuse to remain at home unless we can advance the cause of missions better by so doing than if we went abroad.

The reality of lost men and women needing a Savior compels us onward. The overseas ministries of the Alliance grow out of the unalterable conviction that as long as people go downward to perdition The Christian and Missionary Alliance must press forward with the redeeming message of our Lord.

There may be obstacles like financial recession or wild inflation, political fluctuation or even willful rejection, but our planning and giving must never falter. We dare not draw back from a single objective or even stand still.

The Alliance through the years has been called a movement. At its inception the Master breathed into its wheels the word "GO." It was never constituted to stand still. Its equilibrium depends upon forward movement.

It wobbles only when speed is slackened. It will topple over into the ecclesiastical scrap pile if it stops. Therefore, it must not stop. It must never be satisfied with what it has done.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance must be of St. Paul’s mind:
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but…forgetting those things which are behind…I press toward…the prize”

“No political developments anywhere on earth can nullify Christ's imperative command, It is not our business to sit back and try to guess the outcome of this or that revolution or political maneuver. Our business is to obey the Lord, to go and keep all going until He sweeps down to call His workers home.” -A. W. Tozer

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