John Stumbo Video Blog No. 50

September 12, 2017

12:26

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In this, his 50th video blog since becoming president, John shares his thoughts on a number of issues, including the recent Resonate gathering, a new generation of Alliance church planters, the Church’s response to racism, pitching in to help Hurricane Harvey victims, a newly forming theology of risk, and the “hustle and bustle” of the return of fall ministry in our churches—reminding us that it’s the Spirit who leads us down this next stretch of the river, and we are simply to join His flow.

Transcript

John: Hey, Alliance family. Great to be back with you today. John Stumbo coming to you from Colorado Springs with kind of a collection of thoughts coming at you today because so much has happened since I talked to you last. In one month an amazing amount of things can transpire both in our lives and in the world news. And so first, this last month we had Resonate, our annual gathering of the newest Alliance workers in the Christian and Missionary Alliance family. 175 team members gathered here in Colorado Springs. One of my favorite events for the entire year as there’s so much enthusiasm, energy, people realizing it’s a great time to be teamed, and this is a great team to be part of. While they were here, we took a moment to capture some church planting stories, some of the newest stories developing in the Alliance family. Here’s a few of those.

Ben: I’m a greenhouse resident in Connection Church in Danville, Illinois, and during that residency, we are doing some broad ministry exposure and some intentional holistic development to prepare us to launch a church next year in Champaign, Illinois, where the University of Illinois is with over 12,000 international students. Two-thirds of those come from countries that are closed to the gospel, and we’re really excited about what we’re doing now to get prepared to go there next year and share the gospel.

Brian: Our church launched about nine months ago, and from our home church we had a huge amount of support. And we’re just excited because one of the greatest surprises we’ve had is we’ve grown and we’ve been able to baptize every month. That was an unexpected surprise, and one of our goals now is to keep baptizing people every month in the community that we’re in.

Wayne: The crazy part about our story is—I was greenhoused in southern California at a little church called God’s House, where unknowingly I received a bunch of training in how to plant a church. So when we moved to the Midwest it was just a seamless transition of connections through the Alliance family to see Vintage Church get started.

Mike: We’re on the ground in Boise, Idaho. And we came to reach the lost, the broken, the hurting, those who are unchurched, dechurched, far from church, and we have a tendency to collect those people who don’t want anything to do with traditional church models.

Joe: We came to Williston, North Dakota, after owning our own business for 20 years. I came over the hill of Williston, and I looked down at that night sky, and I thought, “What are we doing here?” We started praying for opportunity one person at a time with intentional, incidental contact, and the Lord is just blessing it. We just stay out of our way, and just enjoy and give the glory to God.

Dave: We believe that church plants happen best and are most successful when a local church plants another church, and we call that a greenhouse. So we are focusing all across the country to train our churches to become what we’re calling these greenhouses that will take a leader and raise that seat of leadership to a sapling and transplant them to another area.

Todd: Recently, the central region of the Christian and Missionary Alliance gathered some young, urban, African American and Latino leaders and put them all in a room and said, “What is it that Jesus wants to do?” After three days of praying, talking, and dreaming, they came to the conclusion that God wants to use them in partnership with the Alliance to bring greater diversity for unprecedented Kingdom impact.

John: Also since I talked to you last month, racism rose its head and shouted loudly on our streets of Charlottesville. I’m calling the church to respond not with social media condemnations, but with life demonstrations that the gospel makes a difference in our lives and our relationships and our message and our attitudes. So by the relationships that we build, by the attitudes that we display, by the messaging that we bring, may it be very clear that the New Testament church is a church that is marked by “we’re all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus for all of us were baptized into Christ, have been clothed with Christ.” There’s no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. We’re all one in Christ. This whole sense that as a body of Christ it’s not about divisions; it’s about—the ground is level at the foot of the cross. And may we be people that are living that out in our everyday lives, so that when the world increasingly looks at the church, what they see is a demonstration of what they wish the world was like. I don’t think we’ll ever eradicate racism from the world, because racism is part of a fallen human nature. But racism can be eradicated from the Church, because we’re the people of God with a different spirit that the world can’t ever concoct or create—the spirit of oneness that Christ can bring.

Then, so very quickly, another major news item hit our headlines—Hurricane Harvey blasted our friends in Texas and elsewhere. I was so proud of the Alliance family for how quickly we were able to respond. Outpouring of finances has been one response—over $70,000 given immediately and more funds coming in. As I speak, that number will soon be a six digit number I’m sure, and the way that CAMA and our Alliance family were able to be on the ground personally in the water, delivering things, ministering, helping. I’m pleased that CAMA is set up not only to be an international relief and development ministry, but also is able to respond to crises state-side as well. The Alliance family’s active, and more stories will be arising in the weeks to come.

A lot’s gone on since the last video blog, and some of that’s been international as well. We’re aware that in various places in the world the heat seems to be being turned up against the church, and that’s not necessarily new news to any of us. But the impact upon the Alliance family seems to be increasing, in particular in West Africa where it’s become obvious that our presence is known in a place that wasn’t viewed just years ago as being tense, but the tensions have been rising. We’ve become aware that there have become a few abductions in places where we’re located that have not affected our teams directly, but our teams have been associated enough with the other individuals involved that the security of our individuals has been brought into serious question. And so we’ve had to respond in various ways. In one African country, we’ve temporarily removed our personnel and have gone in with new security measures to try to assess how safe our people really are.

It’s also causing us to have a theology of risk conversation taking place here at the National Office, where some of our key leaders are saying, “In light of the fact that some of these world situations are not getting better and do not appear to have the potential of getting better in the near future based on how government’s are responding and tensions are continuing to escalate in some of these regions, when are we, under the wisdom of God and leading of the Holy Spirit, to stay in a situation knowing that we are placing ourselves potentially in harm’s way, and when are we to say, ‘Our work here is done, at least for this time.'” Those are serious conversations that we are currently having that I ask your prayer for. Excuse me. They involve the lives of people we love, and the work that we’ve invested heavily in. But my point is simply this—that we’re trying to wrestle through the proper response of a sending organization, when to invite people to stay. We would never require people to stay against their better judgment and will, but when would we allow people to stay in settings which are deemed less than safe. Pray with us as we wrestle through that conversation.

And lastly, I’m very aware that since the last video blog, something else that has taken place is fall launch in your local church. Many of you who are watching this video are local church leaders of some kind. September in many settings is the beginning of a whole new season of ministries, need for new teams of volunteers, and just the hustle and bustle of the return of the church family that brings lots of excitement, but maybe feels like a starting gun just went off. I’ve heard that starting gun as well here at the National Office as my busy travel season—I’ll be in nine churches, I think nine consecutive weeks now these next couple months. The vice president search is in full swing as we’ve gone from 22 names down to four as we look for a new leader of church ministries. And on the list goes from my life and your life and the kinds of things that this fall brings to us.

I use the starting gun metaphor on purpose for two reasons. One, it feels like how my spirit feels, that another race has begun, but I use it secondly because I want to tell us this isn’t a race. This isn’t a competition. That’s really not a helpful metaphor. Maybe a better metaphor would be the metaphor of joining the flow of the Spirit for what He wants to do in this next season as we have been rafting with Him through the summer, and now the river takes a bend of a turn. As the water becomes more fast flowing, we find ourselves in a little different pace, but it’s not a race. It’s not a competition. Enjoy the journey. Experience what God has for us in route as we minister to people who are experiencing the floods and fires of the headlines, not only of this world but also of their own lives. As church leaders, we get to walk with people through life’s journey or kayak with them down this next stretch of river. May it be a joyful stretch for each of us knowing that it’s the Spirit that’s leading us on, the Spirit that’s giving us the power, the flow that flows. Let’s join His flow. Together we’re teamed. God’s peace to you.

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