John Stumbo Video Blog No. 54

January 12, 2018


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This month, John interviews Terry Smith, the new vice president for Alliance Church Ministries. Terry shares his passion for people to know Jesus through planting new churches and strengthening existing churches while voicing a concern that personal preferences in some of our congregations are chosen over evangelistic fervor. John summarizes: “Jesus is passionate about the local church . . . As we engage fully in establishing and strengthening local churches, we’re doing that which is dear to His heart.”


John Stumbo: Well, happy New Year, Alliance family. I’m coming back to you again with excitement because of what God’s doing and the kinds of things I get to share with you today and the person I’m going to introduce you to today.

First of all, though, thank you for another strong year of giving to the C&MA. You’ve allowed us to continue to support our 700 international workers and to carry the Word of God to the least-reached places of this world. Would you, please, Alliance leader, thank your family for us, the church that you serve?

Within just a few days you’re going to be getting a packet of material that will have a “thank-you” video from some of our international workers and we’ll have a reproducible bulletin insert. We’ll just love for you to extend our deep appreciation for the generosity and passion that your congregations have shown by way of enabling the Word of God to go forward through The Alliance this last year. If you would distribute those things, we would be very appreciative.

Today, I have with me a guest in the studio here in Colorado Springs who’s really not a guest. He’s the newest teammate that I have. Terry Smith, vice president for Church Ministries, has come to join us here in Colorado Springs. They’re still in transit . . .  are in the process of selling a home and all those things. Terry, welcome to the team.

Terry Smith: Thank you, John.

John Stumbo: I’m excited that God has laid this on your heart to say “yes.” I want to go back to Council in Columbus. What was stirring in your heart at the time?

Terry Smith: At Council, as you described the process, the Lord really impressed on my heart that I needed to be open to the possibility. The phrase that was impressed on my mind is that I needed to, if someone presented my name, I needed to submit to the process out of surrendered-ness to Christ. As Ruth and I talked about it and prayed about it, we felt that’s the direction that the Lord was leading us.

John Stumbo: I think there was a unique moment during the Saturday morning session as well.

Terry Smith: The Spirit of God just moved in on me, kind of melted me into a puddle of tears that morning and was working in my heart to make me willing to do what He wanted me to do—to play the role that He wanted me to play in this Alliance family that I love dearly and have been a part of for a long time.

John Stumbo: The process, if you remember, Alliance family, was that I invited the district superintendents and the Board of Directors to submit names for who they felt like would be worthy candidates—22 names were presented and 11 self- selected themselves out of the process, so I started with 11 names. As the months went on, through various interviews and various formats, Terry’s name kept rising to the surface. It was in October that the Board of Directors placed this mantel upon Terry to begin this role. You’re just starting out.

Terry, one thing that intrigues me that you’re now in this Office is that just three-and-a-half years ago, you were a local church pastor serving. How do you think that forms and frames how you enter into this role now?

Terry Smith: I believe, foundationally, that God has called me to be a pastor. God has called me to shepherd and lead whatever particular ministry venue He places me in. I still see that as my foundational calling. The Spirit of God has put in me a deep love for the Church and a sense from this new ministry role that it’s still all about the local church and what happens at the local church level.

I’ve been privileged to spend part of my ministry life in church planting, either planting a church myself or church-planting director or planting churches out of the churches that I pastored. But [I] also have been a part of the established church—been a part of leading the church out of plateau and decline. And so there’s this kind of dual passion that goes on within me that, yes, we need to plant new churches, and at the same time, we need to help our existing churches get healthy or get healthier so that both of these things are coming together in a convergent stream to really take us forward as The Alliance in terms of our Kingdom impact on the population of the U.S.

John Stumbo: Where do you see us pulling back or not fully engaging? What do you see as potential for us?

Terry Smith: The nations are coming to the neighborhoods. There are places in this world that we’ll probably never be able to go—couldn’t go there right now, wouldn’t be allowed to go there right now—but people from those countries are coming to us. I believe that all of our churches ought to be engaged in outreach in their communities.

Personal preferences are being chosen over evangelistic fervor. “We want ministry done this way, these songs, these particular programs . . .”

John Stumbo: The style that “I’m comfortable with.”

Terry Smith: That’s right. It should not be about our comfort. I don’t believe Jesus has called us to our comfort, and, in fact, many times He calls us out of our comfort zone for the purpose of reaching lost people. When we start reaching lost people in our churches, ministry gets a little messy, but it gets pretty exciting, too. That’s my passion, to see our churches regularly seeing people’s lives transform by the power of Jesus Christ.

John Stumbo: We both know, Terry, that over 40 percent of our churches have a wide variety of ethnicities that make us up as the Alliance family—35 languages here in the United States. What kind of opportunity does that create in your mind?

Terry Smith: For every church just to stop and think about the community around them. What’s the makeup? What’s the demographic of the community around them? And then to try to make sure that their church reflects that demographic. That they’re reaching a broad spectrum of the people who are represented in their community but also that the people leading worship on their platform, that the people sitting in their boardroom, reflect that as well, and that we see that happening right on up the line in our district executive committees; those who serve in our district offices, our teams there, as well as here in our National Office, our Board of Directors, to see us really reflect the diversity that’s a strong part of who we are as The Alliance.

John Stumbo: I feel like we made great progress in this area of the Alliance family living out the multiculture expression that God has created within us. I do think we’ve got more room to grow, though, and I’m challenging every Alliance leader in 2018 to befriend someone from a culture beyond their own natural circle of friends—to broaden their racial, political, ethnic, cultural experience by befriending somebody outside of their current circle. I’m going to be intending to do that this year. Got somebody in mind that I’ve . . . it’s on my heart . . . that I need to get to know that guy here in Colorado Springs that represents a culture very different than my own. I want to challenge the Alliance family to take that seriously and for us to continue to find ways to be the salt and light in our communities in these racial-tension conversations that are very much a part of the fabric of the American society right now. Perhaps Martin Luther King Day coming up here in January would be one more opportunity for us to seize that moment.

Terry, you’ve shared with us some of the opportunities, and I’m sure you could share many more. But as you come into this role, new and fresh, what’s bubbling up in your own heart? What kind of passions are you bringing to the table right now?

Terry Smith: Well, love the Greenhouse Church concept that is kind of a flickering flame right now—that I’d love to throw some gasoline on—the whole idea of placing church-planting residents in some of our existing churches or church plants under way that will eventually be sent out with a group of people to plant another church that will then plant other churches.

People in our communities are going to come to those churches who may not come to an established church, may not come to a regular church building, but maybe they’ll come to a school auditorium or a storefront somewhere and find Jesus. We’d love to see lives transformed in that way.

Again, the importance of equipping our leaders to do what they do with the highest degree of excellence and effectiveness that they possibly can. Those are some of the things that I’m passionate about, so that we can see our churches bearing evangelistic fruit, seeing people coming to know Christ. When I look back on my pastoral ministry or when I go back to the church I pastored three-and-a-half years ago, the people that stand out to me are the people whose lives were transformed during the ministry there. To see them going on in the Lord, that’s exciting. I want to see that happening in all of our churches, happening over and over and over again to the glory of Christ.

John Stumbo: Terry, there’s a theme that’s already emerging in your words and leadership here, even though you’re just brand new in the role, and that is: You really want people to know Jesus.

Terry Smith: I do.

John Stumbo: You really want the church mobilized in such a way that we’re evangelistically engaged in our communities, and if there’s anything that God would birth within you or through you to advance that more within the Alliance family, it would extend the Kingdom and it would give us all great joy, so may God anoint you for that.

Terry Smith: Praise God.

John Stumbo: Well, you’ve just heard a small piece of what Terry has in his heart and mind as he enters into this office. But what I want to leave you with, Alliance family, is very simply this—I firmly believe that Jesus is passionate about the local church and that as we engage fully in establishing and strengthening local churches, we’re doing that which is dear to His heart.

So, Alliance leader, as you invest again in another year of commitment to loving a congregation—proclaiming the Word of God, being a congregation that reaches the overlooked and the marginalized among us, and as you’re a congregation that launches people into ministry—know that you’re doing something that is very holy. Jesus walks in the midst of the Church. He died for the Church. He’s coming again for the Church, and for this moment in time, it’s ours to lead. Let’s run freely and joyfully in the calling that we’ve received, Alliance leaders, and God bless you in it.


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