John Stumbo Video Blog No. 61

August 12, 2018

12:16

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John closes out his summer series on “planned redundancy” this month, calling the Alliance family to own and engage in its calling as one of God’s end-times families raised up to complete the Great Commission. On a local level, this can mean getting to know someone in The Alliance from a different culture, pastors giving their people opportunities to give to the Great Commission Fund, and praying regularly for our 700 international workers. “This is about advancing the name of Jesus, from our neighborhoods to the nations, and the nations that have come to our neighborhoods,” he concludes.

Transcript

Hello, Alliance family. It’s a steamy, summer afternoon in Chicagoland. I’m out here for a Spanish Central District conference. What a passionate, joyful, committed expression of the Body of Christ that the Spanish Central District is.

I had the privilege of preaching a few times, sharing some wonderful meals, enjoying great conversations, getting to know this part of the Alliance family that is all the way from Chicago down to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

Now, at this moment, I get to be at the Lombard Church—a multicultural expression of who The Alliance is. And to meet with leaders and preach gives me joy as well. So my heart is full from this weekend, and I’m coming to you today to close out this summer series of “planned redundancy,” an intentional effort to take us back through five years of themes that have been arising within my heart and that of other Alliance leaders, just to make sure we’re on the same page.

Some of you will remember that I had been a pastor for 25 years when I had a health crisis. I had this sweet healing that God provided for me and in my recovery was doing some interim work. I was actually in my third interim when I received the news that my much-loved friend and leader, Gary Benedict, was deciding to not let his name stand for a third term, and a mantle fell heavily upon me in a very specific way.

I wasn’t putting my own name forward by any means, but I knew there were others that were submitting my name for this role as president, and I felt so strongly the significance of this responsibility. I saw the direct correlation between the role of the National Office, and of the president’s role in particular, as to whether unreached peoples would hear the name of Jesus in our lifetime or not.

When The Alliance gets it right, unreached peoples get to hear, but when we get it wrong, they don’t.

I saw the relationship between the role of the president and whether The Christian and Missionary Alliance would stay faithful to the authority of God’s Word or whether we, as too many groups had done, would drift away from the authority of God’s Word and just start to sound like the broader culture.

I began to see the direct relationship between the role of the president, whether millennials would lean into the church or whether, as too many of them have already done, they would walk away. The president doesn’t control those things. The National Office doesn’t control those things, but I knew that there was a direct relationship between substantive, eternal issues and the role of being called “the president.”

The mantle was so heavy and thick that I came home one night and my wife said to me with concern, “John, you’re so weighted down. Are you sure you should let your name stand? If you can’t handle the thought of being president, how would you handle the role of being president?” It was a thoughtful question from a loving spouse. My simple answer to her question was, “I don’t know how I’ll handle it. I just know that God’s not letting me say ‘no.’”

Meanwhile, I was so proud of the Alliance family; others who could have easily been in this role at this time one by one were stepping aside saying, “God’s not letting me let my name stand. It’s not time for me to do that,” or they were just backing away, feeling God direct it. Meanwhile, He wasn’t letting me back away. I felt like I had to stay in the process.

That burdened weight continued for some time, but in God’s kindness, He accompanied that burden on a very specific moment in time, using a very specific verse of scripture, Psalm 40, verse 8, “It gives me pleasure to do your will, I delight in doing your will.” A verse that actually is quoted again in the Book of Hebrews, putting that into the context of Jesus in the Incarnation, coming to Earth, saying, “I delight in doing your will, o Lord.”

He gave me a river of joy to join that burden, like two rivers converging together to become one. He’s never taken away that burden, but He’s given a river of joy to make that burden sustainable. A joyful burden, a burdened joy. That’s what I’ve flowed in in these five years, and I share that story with you at this moment because I want us to remember again the significance of what it is that God has called us to be and to do as the Alliance family—we are one of God’s end-times families that He has raised up to complete the Great Commission.

I do not believe that the C&MA is of human origin, in the sense that Dr. Simpson never set out to start this, but God placed within his heart the kind of visions, and passions, and priorities that provided the DNA foundation for what The Alliance has become today—and look what we get to do. If we do it right, if we stay faithful, if we see the significance of our call, we get to take the gospel to the least-reached nations of the world. We get to stay faithful to the authority of God’s Word. We get to welcome the arising generations to embrace what it is that God has been doing in them and through them and how they can be part of the Church.

It’s autobiographical, yes, but I’m saying that because, for me, it’s a reminder of the significance of our call. It matters that we get this right. It matters that we stay fully engaged. It matters to unreached peoples, to arising generations. It matters now; it’ll matter for the next generations. It’ll matter for all eternity that the cloud of witnesses of heaven are shouting for us, cheering for us to stay faithful, to stay true. The King himself longs to arise, to say, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” So the significance of the call upon the Alliance family stays with me day by day, year by year.

So as I travel, which you know I’ve chosen to do a whole lot of, I’ve come to believe that a desk is a poor place from which to lead a denomination. I need to be in Colorado Springs, maybe a week a month or so, and there’s other times I need to be there for meetings. So between my desk and meetings, I’m there some, but more than 50 percent of the time I’m out with the Alliance family, and I have a very specific passion as I’m out. I don’t always say the words, don’t always feel it’s necessary or appropriate, but my underlying goal as president is to continue to call us to ownership and engagement.

I long for the Alliance family to own the mission that God has given to us, and to fully engage in that because when we do, everybody wins. What do I mean everybody wins? Well, when the Alliance family owns and engages our mission, more youth go off to our camps, or LIFE Conference, or our colleges. More youth get called into ministry, more adults see how their gifts can be used for Kingdom purposes, whether they’re in professional ministry or not. As the Alliance family engages, more people are mobilized, Ephesians 2:10-style, to complete the good works that God has called them to do.

As the Alliance family engages, more funds arise so that more people can be sent and more projects completed. As the Alliance family engages, unreached peoples get to hear the name of Jesus, and on our shores, we plant more churches, and we reach more immigrants, and we reach more generations. And the process just repeats itself as the Alliance family engages.

But when we drift apart from each other, when we grow lax in our commitments, when we become independent and autonomous, then everybody loses. Fewer kids go off to camps and conferences. Fewer kids get called into ministry. Fewer dollars arise. Fewer unreached peoples hear the name of Jesus. Fewer church plants get birthed, and so the story goes. I believe that everybody loses, Judges-style, when every man or every church does “that which is right in their own eyes.”

Forgive me if you don’t like my use of that verse for your local church, but I see a similarity to the autonomy and independence that leads to an ineffective ministry and the contrast of the Book of Acts. Whereas I study Acts, I see so much coming together—shared personnel, shared finances, shared prayers, shared communication, shared leadership, shared vision, shared decision making. Study the Book of Acts, and there’s a lot of this going on. And so, Alliance family, I just continue to invite us to greater ownership and engagement.

Now, what would that look like on your local level? One would be . . . would you get to know somebody in the Alliance family who’s from a different culture from your own? So much of the Alliance family doesn’t know each other yet, and I long for the day when we embrace the cultures that are even within our own region. Would you lean in more to your own district? Would you make it a joy to be a district superintendent because of your level of engagement for the kinds of emphases your own district superintendent is giving, assisting in church planting, engaging in district conference, and being a full participant in the kinds of efforts that your district is showing? Would you, Alliance family, give your people an opportunity to financially support The Christian and Missionary Alliance?

Pastors, church leaders, what I’m talking about here is . . . some of you are not giving your people an opportunity to financially support the mission of the C&MA. Never communicating about it, never taking a Great Commission Fund offering or in any way supporting. Some of you have it within your local church budget; that’s great. I’m not belittling that at all, but I hear anecdotally, and I can actually prove statistically, that more people want to give within The Alliance through your church than are actually given the opportunity to do so. So I’m saying once in a while, stand up and just say, “Today, we’re going to take an offering for this and send it off to the broader work of the Alliance family.”

Our goal, and I pray that your goal, would be that every Alliance church would contribute 10 percent of your general fund to the C&MA so that we can take the gospel to the still-to-be-reached places of the world. That’s a measurable kind of thing that would be a cosmic shift for how we’re able to do things in The Alliance if every church were to do that.

And are you praying on a regular basis for our international workers? Are you remembering in the day-to-day flow of your church activity that you have 700 teammates scattered throughout the globe who are depending upon us for prayer? So those are just a few of the many applications for how we can be leaning in and investing as the Alliance family, owning and engaging in this mission.

We all win when we lean in. We lose when we don’t. Would you invest more fully in this family that you’re a part of? Because when the day is done, this conversation that I’ve just given to you really isn’t about The Christian and Missionary Alliance. You know what it’s about—advancing the name of Jesus, from the neighborhoods to the nations, and the nations that have come to our neighborhoods. And I’ve met with a lot of those people just in these last few hours, and so I ask us, let’s do this well because this matters. God bless you as you do.

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