John Stumbo Video Blog No. 70

May 12, 2019


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In part three of his three-part series addressing principles for healthy communications on topics about known conflict, John shares why seasons of change are powerful discipleship opportunities.


It’s May. Six years ago this month, you gave me a great gift by electing me for the first time as president of the U.S. Alliance family. I have thoroughly enjoyed these years—so grateful to get to do what I do. And I promised at the time that I would stay in communication with you by way of video and through other means. This is video blog number 70. Some of you have a monthly appointment with me. Thank you for your faithfulness. Others listen more periodically. I get that. But either way, I want you to know that we are in part three of a three-part series in this video.

  • Part one [back in March] was four principles of public discourse.
  • April, I turned more inward with those principles as I let it be known that we were going to have a two-year conversation on some subjects of known disagreements among us in the Alliance family and why we would be having those conversations.
  • Today, I want to take that conversation a bit further.

But first of all, where am I right now? I’m back on the island of Puerto Rico. You’ll remember it was about 20 months ago that the hurricane winds swept across this island, taking with it trees and power lines, rooftops, and even lives. The devastation was massive and very painful for this population. Hundreds of thousands of people left, but now people are coming back and through it all, the church has remained strong. Pastors have persevered, and congregations have hung in there in ways that are admirable—and still rebuilding. Yes, it’s taken a while to get roofs back on some buildings, but God’s at work and God’s at work through the church. And I’m so impressed by the spirit of outreach, where at Christmas and Easter they took productions outside of church walls into communities and senior centers, shopping malls, and parks and plazas, getting the good news out to the community.

One church of less than 50 people just this last weekend had a bicycle ministry, taking the gospel pedal-by-pedal, door-to-door, as the church went out taking the good news to their community. Another church did a garage sale for their troubled brothers and sisters from Venezuela. Here they are just 18 months away from having their power back in their own community and the ability to sustain themselves, and now they’re giving out of their own resources.

Celebrations are part of the Puerto Rican culture, and I’m here for the 50th anniversary of the La Cumbre Church. It’s been a joyful weekend, and the celebration is part of the spirit of this church as they joyfully experience the work of God in them and through them. One church this last Easter saw over 1,000 people in attendance—50 people coming to faith in Christ. More stories could be told. In fact, more stories will be told by Javier Gomez, our district superintendent, on Wednesday morning of Council. If you will join us either in person in Orlando or by way of live stream, you’ll get to hear an update from Javier himself about how God has been at work in this island and how the Alliance family has been used in that process.

I am proud of the Alliance in Puerto Rico, and I want you to hear part of that story at Council.

Also at Council this year, you’re going to get to hear testimonies from church planters and our pastor in Paradise, California, where the fire ravaged his city; international workers and then the sending, commissioning, of the largest group in Alliance memory—60 new workers being sent out at our commission service on Sunday. This is a step of faith for us because we haven’t had all the funds needed, so the Great Commission Day Offering is coming. We’re asking you to fully participate in that . . .  and then we got the sweet news that an individual who had not given to the C&MA before heard of our faith-filled effort to send these people and said, “I want to be part of that, and I want to mobilize others to be a part of that.”

And so, to help send the 60, this individual is giving us a half-million dollar matching gift. So whatever gifts your church is able to give, up to a half-million dollars, will be matched. Let your congregation know and, in your own personal giving, know that our gifts will have double the impact because of this matching gift. So, let’s rise to this moment, Alliance family. Those who are coming to Council, bring your offering there, and we’ll celebrate together the sending of this great team that’s going out on our behalf. We’ll see you at Council.

Now, to today’s theme . . . why seasons of change are powerful discipleship opportunities. I don’t know if you’ve thought of it in this way, but I see a season of change as an opportunity for discipleship in my own life as a leader and for those whom I lead. Let me give some leadership insights or at least insights into this leader.

First one we’ve all thought about. Point one: Leaders are driven by vision. Vision is a picture of a preferable future. A preferable future implies that something of the present can be improved. Hence, leaders are trying to take us somewhere beyond where we are right now, implying that I can’t stay where I am or keep things as they are. Hence, leaders bring seasons of change. That’s point one.

Point two: Christian leadership is intrinsically interrelated to love. We are called to love those we lead and lead in a loving manner. We are not being a Christian leader if we’re not leading in love.

Points one and two run into a head-on collision with point three. Here’s why. People that we lead and are calling to change don’t really like change very much. I don’t like change. Most people I know don’t like change.

Hence, the irony of Christian leadership is helping people we love do what they hate.

Point four: One reason change is disliked is because it’s perceived as a loss—often perceived as a loss of control. I’m not belittling. I’m not condemning. I’m actually testifying. This is certainly something in my own soul. I like to be in control. And having a sense of consistency, stability, gives me a sense of control. But a season of change can cause me to feel like I’m losing control, and that’s one reason that a lot of us don’t like change.

Point five: Control, or at least the perception of control, can at times be a cloak for carnality. What do I mean by that? Well . . . and I’m not belittling. I’m not saying that any time somebody opposes us that they’re automatically carnal in their opposition. I’m just saying that when we start losing control, ugly things can start to arise within us and places that are not fully Spirit filled can be restrained through a season where “everything is safe and secure and it feels like I’ve got everything under my control.” But when that cloak of control gets thrown off, then ugly things can begin to arise within us, and the sinful nature can be revealed.

Point six: Those who lead have to face carnality—even our own. The carnality in our own souls can surface as well. This isn’t just among those that we lead. It’s within us.

And then, finally, point seven: There can be this dangerous concoction that arises as a season of change comes. Carnality surfaces, and that brings about conflict. The stuff within my own soul runs into the stuff of somebody else’s soul, and it’s a combustible concoction that’s dangerous in a church board or a congregation or in a family or in a marriage or in an entire denomination. And I just want to call it for what it is.

We are entering a season of change. I admit I’m leading us into that season. We’ll have more time to talk at Council, after Council, about what those changes [are]. You can read about some of those in the Annual Report that right now is online. You can follow livestream on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, mornings and afternoons, if you’re not able to be at Council yourself. But we’re entering into a season of change, and I see this as a wonderful discipleship opportunity . . . that if we know in advance that a loss of control can lead to a surfacing of carnality and the entrance of conflict and that’s an ugly combustible combination, then how do we right from the outset say, “Spirit of God, fill me. Spirit of God, guide me.”

I want to lead in such a way personally, and I’m asking all of us to lead and participate in such a way where we see this season of change as a chance to be discipled ourselves, to grow deeper in our walk with Christ, to ask the Spirit of God to reveal in us where is some ugly edge surfacing from my own soul? Where is there an alley or avenue in my own heart that hasn’t been fully filled by the Spirit of God and now is starting to surface?

Again, not every opposition is carnal. We can have disagreement in healthy, uplifting ways. In fact, I’m acknowledging right from the beginning of these conversations that I don’t hope for full agreement—that’s not the goal. That’s not the effort for us to fully agree on every subject.

But entering conversations of known disagreements as Spirit-filled people who want to build each other up in love and come out of the conversation even stronger in relationship and stronger as an organization—that’s the goal of these next couple years. A discipleship opportunity. Conversations of known disagreement that we have in uplifting ways as we search our own souls . . . “Spirit of God, where do you want to shape me? What do I need to repent of? What do I need to lay down?”

Interestingly enough, perhaps being here in Puerto Rico has become a metaphor for this season of change—opportunity, discipleship opportunity before us. What do I mean by that?

Well, the hurricanes brought a season of change for this island on countless levels. But I have witnessed the church grow deeper in their walk with Christ, leaders grow larger in their leadership, the Spirit of God emerge even more beautifully within these churches. A difficult season. A season of change has actually produced some beautiful fruit here in this island, and I would pray that this would be a picture of what God would do throughout the entire family in these next few years. May God lead us together in this journey.


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