National Office Relocation Discussion – John Stumbo Video Blog No. 85

August 12, 2020

11:48

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Board of Directors authorizes National Office to pursue relocation options.

Transcript

For more than 30 years, the U.S. Christian and Missionary Alliance National Office has been located in Colorado Springs. It’s a beautiful building in a wonderful location. Why, then, would we potentially give this up to pursue something else? The answer to that question could shape our movement for decades to come.

Thanks for joining me today. I love Colorado, the hikes and climbs, the hills and streams, the peaks, the valleys; it’s just a beautiful place to live. And the office building that is fully owned by us has served us well for decades. There are many good reasons why our leaders chose this location when they relocated out of Nyack, New York. Yet at our June board meeting, the Board of Directors authorized the administration of the National Office to begin to pursue the idea of relocation and to actually place this building on the market. Why would we do something so extreme? Why would we be having this conversation? I’m grateful that you’re joining me today, because I want us to realize in a deeper way that this is our mission and a team that serves our mission and that our team has actually been greatly impacted by the city in which we live and the building in which we operate.

So, this is a very missional conversation I’m about to have with us. So, let’s start right there, because there’s missional and logistic reasons for why we’re doing what we’re doing and on the missional side, in no particular order. But can I say that we’re not a diverse city in Colorado Springs? No surprise there. But we are a diverse denomination. And I delight in that. Well over 40 percent of our [C&MA] family here in the United States is not Anglo or English-speaking as first language for many of them. And so yet our office staff does not and really cannot represent the broader Alliance family in our current situation. So, couldn’t we be located in a city that represents a greater diversity, that better represents who The Alliance is?

We are also in a bubble in Briargate, I’ve come to call it, a fortress on a hill. We are in a building that isolates itself intentionally from the broader public. And our staff can come in every day, including myself, and never have to meet a non-Christian person, never have to engage with secular society. And that troubles me because who are we becoming by what we’re repeatedly doing? It’s one of my leadership principles. And over the course of years and decades, when our staff doesn’t have a natural connecting point through work to engage with the broader public, how does that begin to shape how we design, how we edit, how we lead, how we program? All those kinds of things are impacted by who we talk to, day after day. Could we design a building? Could we be in a setting whereby coming to work, we actually engage with the public? Would that increase the evangelistic temperature of our team? And if our team’s evangelistic temperature was increased, would that in time increase the evangelistic temperature of this entire family? Yes, that is one of my continued passions and goals for this movement is that we care more deeply and engage more effectively with those who do not yet know the Christ who we love.

So we shape our buildings, and then our buildings shape us. And I would seek to shape a different style of work environment. And that leads to another concept. And that this building that we’re in does not produce any income or very much; it’s a $10 million asset. I’m glad we fully own it. But should not an asset of that nature assist us in advancing our mission? In other words, could the day come in the Alliance family when our gifts to the Great Commission Fund no longer need to support the heat and light and maintenance of our facility but that our asset actually supports the facility itself, hence releasing more dollars for our missional purpose? And so that’s one of my dreams, that we would have a return on investment from our actual asset as a family.

As we think about some of the logistics that could also be impacted by a missional move, I’ve got to say that cost of living has really increased since they moved here 30 years ago. It was a great move then. And it’s been a wonderful place to live, as I’ve said, but now some of our staff have difficulty getting housing based on the salaries that we’re able to pay, needing to find three, four, five roommates just to make it work. So, could we be in a city with lower cost of living? Could we be in a city where we had better access to the family, and you had better access to the office? So that we were living less in isolation and more in relationship? Could that be part of who we become as The Alliance that just the ebb and flow of our lives are more engaged. We host conferences; it’s hard for you to get here. When we want to be in your churches, it’s hard for us to get to you. So right now we can drive to about 1 percent of our churches and our airport is almost always a two flight, maybe even a three flight airport. And so, this engagement with office and broader family is something that we’d like to accomplish as well.

We have a heart full and head full of reasons. We’ll continue to unpack those as time goes on, but I hope you know that I don’t enter into this lightly. This is disruptive to the staff. I’m very aware of that. It would be very uncomfortable for us. The easiest thing to do would just be to stay here for a very long period of time, and we could justify it. We could rationalize it, but for the sake of advancing our mission and for the sake of who we’re becoming as an Alliance family, I’ve got to pass something different off to the next generation. It’s not about our comfort at the moment. It’s about who will we be 10, 20, 30 years from now because of strategic decisions that were made today?

Now I know that right away, some of you [are] saying, well, where are you thinking? And let me jump right to that question of the where. We established some criteria. One, as I’ve already said, a city with a lower cost of living. Two, city with greater diversity. Three, a top 100 airport. When you put those together, suddenly you’ve limited most cities in the United States, but there were about 17 that the research team came up with; [they] met all three of those criteria. And then we overlaid the map of the U.S. Alliance churches to decide where would we have access to the most family and family going to have access to us. And so we’ve determined that the top three cities under consideration are Indianapolis, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; and Cleveland, Ohio. I think you can see based on our criteria why those would lead the list. It’s not that all other cities are totally off the list, but we had to focus and start there. And so that is our starting point of research and will remain our focus for the months to come.

This was not a decision by the board to relocate. Because we need to have many more decisions, much more research before then. But it is a decision to pursue that and we are doing so right now. Then you’re asking, well, when will that happen? And the simple answer is not before Council, we’ve got to have our focus as a staff there, but summer’s a great time, so perhaps summer 2021 would be the time when we would begin the relocation process.

Friends, I’m sure that a video like this raises as many questions as it answers, but would you hear my heart that we are on mission together. And that I believe that as our office that represents you and our staff that represents you is more engaged in our mission that we’ll be more effective for decades to come. Some of you might think this is a knee jerk reaction to COVID. Then I can understand why you’d think that, but there’s much more to this story. Let me explain.

For years, I’ve wondered if this was the right location and office. I kept that to myself for the first six years of my presidency. But last summer, I went to the vice presidents when we were on a retreat and had plenty of time to just sit on this and pray through it. And we walked through this list of reasons that I shared with you today. Unanimously, the vice presidents said, “This is personally inconvenient, I don’t like it for myself, but this is missionally essential for The Christian and Missionary Alliance.” And so we left that retreat in confidential, full agreement that a journey had begun. Months went by, more prayer, more interaction. We came to the board in February and presented these concepts, got great affirmation. But again, just wanting to sit on this in prayerful reflection and then COVID came. And while, COVID added no new reasons to the list, what it did was accentuate some of the reasons we already had and accelerate the process because frankly, we’ve learned to work differently and realize we don’t even need as much space as we’ve had. We can have greater efficiency of office, and we can have greater effectiveness of staff.

And so COVID has impacted this, but I would hate for anybody to think that this is just because of the last few months. Well, in the last few months our leadership teams had time, rather than traveling all over the world, to just wrestle these things through more deeply and in great unity. So, the entire vice presidents and the Board of Directors are coming. We’ve asked the staff to do the very difficult, consider what their future might be like. But I’m asking you, Alliance family, if you would engage this in a prayerful way, because this shapes who The Alliance becomes over the course of time. You may not feel the impact immediately like our staff would, but over the course of time I believe that our missional effectiveness will increase, our Great Commission Fund efficiency will improve. Our donor dollar will be more maximized. And our passion for the world will be more fully expressed because we really are about all of Jesus for all the world. And it takes all of us, even the National Office staff, who are being asked for something difficult right now. So, join us in this adventure, pray for us and we’ll keep you posted. Thank you.

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