John Stumbo Video Blog No. 6
January 12, 2014
U.S. Alliance President John Stumbo shares the leadership (or chief executive officer) aspects of his role as president and begins to articulate the vision that God has given to the C&MA.
Hey team. John Stumbo back with you again; Colorado Springs this time. Many of you know that the first months of my presidency, I really felt called to get out and meet as many people as possible: international workers, district superintendents, pastors, college presidents, laypeople—everywhere that I could be, I was. I met as many people as I could, and now I’m back in the Springs.
I have heard from some of you that you were curious of when the next call to prayer or live-stream event would be, and I just want to remind or announce that February 26, a Wednesday night, 6:30 to 8:00, Mountain Time. We are going to have Kelvin Walker here in the Springs, because he is on the Board. We are going to have the Board of Directors here for their regular meeting. And while we are here, I want to call us together for an evening of worship and prayer.
For some of you that will work well with your time zones, others of you, that won’t work well at all. It’s hard to do a live-stream event in one city that fits everybody’s time zones, but you will be able to download that and to participate with us, whether it is that evening or days or weeks to follow, but love to have you join us. That was a huge thing for us in August and I look forward to it again.
So if you have been following these video blogs, you know that I have been taking my job description seriously—which says that the president is the spiritual leader and chief executive officer of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. I have taken that word order seriously that, first and foremost, I am to be the spiritual leader. But, yes, it is very significant that there would be proper administration, oversight, and leadership of the organization. But before an organization, we’re a people; and as people, we’re people of God. So I’ve sought in these video blogs to talk about things of our soul and what God is saying to us as leaders in these days and what He is speaking to me about. So I have called us to receptivity and to not loose heart.
So today, though, I am shifting and feeling the need to begin to talk about some of the leadership aspects, the chief executive officer aspect of my role. And as the CEO of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, I have begun to understand that I would fulfill that calling best if I received and was able to clearly articulate the vision that God has given to us—if I am able to oversee an organization that operates effectively and efficiently, and if we are able to raise the funds necessary to fulfill what God has called us to do. But even that has an order to it—that being funding champion will be much easier if we have organizational effectiveness and a clear vision.
So for today’s talk, I am thinking about this whole idea of vision. What is God saying to us for who we are, and who we are to become, and what we are to do as the C&MA?
If you remember a couple of months ago, I asked you to speak into this by giving me three words that describe who The Christian and Missionary Alliance was in the past, who we are today, and who we are to be in the future. Thank you for responding to that. Fascinating for me as I read the list; and let me just give you a brief report on your statement about who the C&MA was in the past. Your three words:
Passion, focus, filled
Desire, passion, hunger
Passionate, sacrificial, visionary
Mission, holiness, passion
Christ-centered, united, courageous
Visionary, obedient, humble
Passionate for Jesus Christ, hungry
Energetic, visionary, anointed
passion for Christ
Passion, conviction, surrender
Passionate, Spirit-filled, visionary
Passionate, Spirit-filled, Holy Spirit empowered
Jesus, passion, sacrifice
Are you starting to hear a theme here? Now obviously, I hand-selected a few of these, but the word passion just dominated the conversation—not just the ones I read but on the entire list. As you answered the question for who we are today and who we are to become, the consensus was much less clear. Fascinating stuff; I want to reflect on it more.
But for this moment, what I want to say is I know that for some of you, when you spoke in the past before the election and as I have spoken with you in recent months, that when you think of vision, one thing that you are simply asking is, “Does anybody care anymore? Are we still passionate about this thing called reaching the lost? Are we still passionate about the message of Christ in you, the hope of glory? Does anybody care?”
And I want to say to you that the answer is yes! I care; many of you care deeply, and together we are going to work through who it is that God is calling us to be as we live out the calling inheritance that has been placed upon us.
So at this point, I have a little bit of awkwardness because I’m aware that some leaders do not speak of vision until it has been clearly articulated in their own heart and head, and then they stand before a congregation, or a Board, or whomever and say, “Team, here is where we are going. Here is what God said. Here is what we’re gonna do. Let’s go.” And I respect that kind of leadership. But what I am doing at this phase of my life is choosing to take a longer, slower route and bringing various constituencies into the conversation, real time, as it’s unfolding in my heart and spiritual experience, having other people speak into it simultaneously.
So in community and in privacy, I’m having conversations with God and with God’s people about where is God taking The Christian and Missionary Alliance. So what I am doing in this segment today is bringing us, real time, up to speed with conversations that I have had recently with district superintendents at our major conference we have each November here in Colorado Springs. It was a fabulous conversation with them. I’ve had this conversation with other leaders and now with the broader C&MA family at this moment. So let me catch you up to speed in what’s happening in my heart and mind and see if it resonates with yours.
So I have been in these conversations; one of them took me to a place I didn’t expect. I was invited to be at the table with the 16 or so presidents of Evangelical denominations that are part of the NAE— the National Association of Evangelicals. We had a 24-hour meeting in Chicago, and I was just there as my first time experience to get to know some guys; listen, learn. But in the course of the conversation, this president, who I viewed to be the most intelligent guy at the table, as he was just speaking in passing, he made this quick comment about, “Well you know, denominations are beliefs that we hold, mission that we share, relationships that we value.” And then he went on with other things. And I backed up the conversation a few minutes later and said, “Time out. Would you go back and tell me what you just said?”
And so what he articulated was, “Well yeah, a denomination are the beliefs—the beliefs that we hold, the mission that we share, and the relationships that we value. This piqued my interest immediately not only because I hadn’t really thought seriously about what a denomination is and not only because it was so succinctly defined, but in reflection, I went back to when I had just graduated from seminary: I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’ve been in The Alliance all my life. My dad was an Alliance pastor, district superintendent. I had gone to an Alliance college and been a youth pastor in an Alliance church. And now I’d gone to seminary; I’ve come out, and I realized, you know what? I don’t need to stay in the Alliance. There’s lots of great ministries that God is using out there.
But then I had kind of this “ah-ha” moment where I said to myself, “Well, but I like our beliefs. You know—the theology we have that we’re centered on Christ, and we don’t get caught up in lots of the side issues that some organizations fight over. So I really like our theology. I knew that I liked what we were part of, reaching the world for Christ, U.S. and around the world, going to the least reached places. I loved our mission. And I had an “oh and by the way, I’ve always liked the people. Every time I go to an Alliance conference or event, I’ve always liked the people that I’m around.”
Without realizing it, as a young man, I had in my head the same outline. The denomination are the beliefs, and the mission, and the relationships, and I want to be part of that. Now what’s intriguing to me is while that was an unexpected starting place for my thoughts about a clarity of vision for who The Alliance is and what God is calling us to be and do, this has become a bit of an outline for me.
So what I have done with this outline is, I’ve gone to the district superintendents, to association leaders at our annual conference that we had in November here in the Springs, and I asked them, first of all, if there was a general sense of agreement. I did the same thing with our Board in New York City, asked them if there was a general sense of agreement.
We’ve played with some words; we’ve defined some of these things. But then I asked the second question: If you were to crystalize who The Christian and Missionary Alliance is with three words, ok you can use hyphens; that’s all right, but if you were to crystalize who The Christian and Missionary Alliance is in three words, what would you say?
It has led to some great conversations. I originally asked you that in the November survey. It was fascinating; our consensus was all over the map. I’m asking you again, this time not top of your head but prayerfully, what is God saying to us at this time?
In the next video blog when I come to you, I want to come back with what is happening in my heart, as I have an increasing understanding of who The Alliance is to be now and in the future. But from that, that’s just a starting point for a broader conversation that I want to have of then what are the priorities for our work.
And what are the ramifications for the reasons for existence of the National Office, for the district office, for your local church, for my role as president, for the other roles around here, for your role as pastor. So that there is an increasing level of, in the words of another smart guy around here, attunement and alignment—to be in tune with one another on our calling but then aligned with one another on our part in that fulfilling that. So that’s a conversation that we are going to continue to have, and I welcome you to join me in it.
So I am on a journey of seeking God for where He is taking us in The Alliance and inviting you into that journey of where He is taking The Alliance. I realize for some of you, you have been waiting for years for this kind of conversation. For others, this isn’t really resonating with your heart so much today.
I want everybody, though, praying—would you please—that God would be speaking to us in these days with a sense of “here is what I have for you, My sweet bride called The Christian and Missionary Alliance.” Because the work that God’s started among us is a work that must, must continue with increasing passion and focus in this day, in the years to come, so join me. Bless you, love you, and I pray for you as well. Thank you.