Joining Hands


As General Council approaches, I look forward to meeting with our delegates—the greatest number expected since our Centennial Council in 1987. Though I know it is not feasible for all our readers to be in attendance, there is opportunity for you to experience the meetings via the worldwide Web at legacy.cmalliance.org/council.

It has been two years since Council adjourned in Cincinnati. During the intervening time, I have had the privilege of visiting with laypeople, pastors and missionaries to listen to their stories of God’s faithfulness, their Kingdom fruitfulness and their ministry challenges. Re?ecting upon their stories, I was reminded that The Christian and Missionary Alliance in the United States is an amazing array of people woven into a beautiful tapestry. The fabric is 99% laypeople, representing many ethnic backgrounds living in and between our great urban centers.

In connecting with our constituency I was reminded of my days as an Alliance layman. During these formative years, I came to understand that God has chosen the Church to be His instrument to determine the eternal destiny of people. The Christian and Missionary Alliance serves more than 2,000 local churches and releases their people into ministry so they can fulfill their Great Commission mandate.

Each church in The Alliance is unique. Pastors and laypeople partner together to determine how best to express the Kingdom of God in their community and region. With the uniqueness and diversity, it is beautiful to see how we band together for ministry to the nations—all to the glory of God. The ?ame of the gospel continues to spread out from our churches.

How have we held together over the decades? We didn’t have a statement of faith until the 1960s. We didn’t become a denomination until the 1970s. Since our founding by A. B. Simpson 120 years ago, Jesus has been central and exalted as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. A colleague said to me, “Jesus is the big deal in The Alliance.” The enthronement of Christ as master in our lives leads to an over?ow of Holy Spirit power that thrusts us into Kingdom advancement to bring back the King. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matt. 24:14)!

My hope is that we can continue to stand on our historic two pillars—the sufficiency of Christ in us and bringing Christ to the nations. These unify us in the midst of our wonderful diversity.

We have a rich heritage but must always be pressing on to the new. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the realties we face in 2007. We have many healthy, prevailing churches (large and small) that have great faith stories. But at the same time, more than 50 percent of our churches show signs of poor health. This impacts both local and global ministry.

My prayer has been, “Lord, what can the present national administration do in the face of new realities, opportunities and challenges?” We know that ministry ?ows from our local churches to the nations (they must always feel released to do so). We know that healthy, missional churches have prevailing, fruitful ministries. We know that healthy churches are led by healthy people (lay and clergy).

Colossians 1:28–29 addresses these facts clearly, and for nearly 30 years I have claimed these verses wherever I have had the privilege to serve. The apex of ministry is seen in bringing everyone to maturity (which I also call whole life health). Our present administration is emphasizing the development of people over methods and programs. We hope an ethos and environment will be firmly established where we value people and their whole life health. This truth is simple but not simplistic—healthy believers (lay and clergy) will lead healthy churches, which will lead to a bountiful harvest in the United States and overseas. This philosophy is already incorporated in some of our districts to assist our credentialed workers.

So, as we gather at Council, we will glorify Christ through worship and prayer—looking to the future and reemphasizing our common bond in Christ and mission. And throughout our gathering it is my hope we will see the worth of each person in the C&MA. My dream is to see an unprecedented unleashing of our people based upon Colossians 1:28–29—_We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, strug-gling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me._

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