A Season of Simplification – John Stumbo Video Blog No. 91

February 12, 2021


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It’s been a season of change for many of us!


Hello, Alliance family. My message to you this month centers around a single word, a word that some love, others hate, some embrace, others fear, but a word that all of us, especially leaders, must effectively engage—change.

He was wearing a shirt of a different color. Unchanged. Tom Brady was still throwing touchdown passes and winning yet another Super Bowl. Change. My wife and I are wearing masks as we order at the counter. Unchanged. We still frequent our favorite burger and custard restaurant.

Yes, the theme for today is change, and the subject matters are far more significant than throwing a ball or ordering a burger. I’m feeling this personally, and I know that many of you are as well as so many changes have had to come into your life. Every season of life has changes, but some of those seasons, like the year 2020, feel like the changes came far more rapidly. Let’s talk about it.

I said that I’m feeling this personally because, well, Joanna and I listed our house recently and sold it over one weekend. So, we’re beginning to pack boxes and have acquired a temporary place to live in Columbus, Ohio. And we’ll be moving within the next month. We want to be the first on that front edge of our relocation process, welcoming the staff as they come to the city of Columbus and getting established a new culture there. But we’re feeling the impact of change. We loved our home for the last seven years. So, disruption has begun. I’m feeling it because of the office that I’m in right now. This is the last time that I will get to bring you a video blog from this office because this building is for sale. And I will no longer be occupying this lovely office. It has one of the best views of any CEO that I’ve ever known. This is a fantastic office. But change.

We’ve just completed our National Conversations. Terry and I wrapped up; we think it was the 48th one regarding the Statement of Faith. It was an 18-month journey. Fascinating. About 3,000 Alliance people engaged—so pleased by your participation. Thank you for that. We’re going to take the Statement of Faith changes that we’re recommending to the Theological Issues Committee this week and to the Board of Directors next week and in preparation for us to bring them to you by way of a video blog, probably in May, as we prepare for our Council in June. National Conversations also involved, as you know, possible changes in the category of men and women in leadership. There’s been significant dissatisfaction in the Alliance family about different outcomes of ordination, consecration, that whole process, other aspects of our polity that feel like they don’t serve us well that were written in days before we had churches that had multiple staff. And so, we’re bringing those proposed changes to the Board of Directors this month.

I’m giving you a list of changes that are impacting my life, potentially impacting The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Council’s also on that list; we celebrate that we have 600 people registered for Council already. But there will be changes at this Council. This is the first time that we’ll ever be able to be a voting delegate without being in-person at the Council site. We’re glad that 90 percent of the registrants are coming to Opryland in Nashville—or planning to do so right now. But we have this option; if that’s just not appropriate for you, then you can still be a registered voting delegate remotely by watching on your own television or laptop.

I’m so proud of how the CAMA team has given up their own independent leadership with their own board—I’ve said this to you before—and now are part of the four structures of Alliance Missions. That has gone so well. I’m so impressed with the change that took place within the Orchard Foundation and Alliance Development Fund to become one entity called Orchard Alliance. I’m impressed with this team and how effectively they function and how they’ve walked through that season of change so well.

I’ve only been referencing changes here that are initiated by our National Office and affect us. But I know that for you on some district levels, there has been a consolidation of districts from 28 to 25 districts, so now your church is in a different district. I know that as a local church, you’ve had to adjust so rapidly from in-person services to online services and preachers from speaking to a live, in-person, face-to-face crowd to talking to that unrelenting, unforgiving piece of plastic called the camera. I know that for us, we’ve had to change how to do memorial services and board meetings and pastoral care, and on and on the list goes at a local church level—and it wears some people out while it excites others. It energizes some to further advance the Kingdom, and it almost immobilizes others.

Friends, can I remind us of and celebrate with us what hasn’t changed? That the things of greatest significance, the things that really matter are unchanging. You know what I’m talking about. What is really changed? Not our Christ. We love the fact, we love the verse, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The unchanging nature of our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s a beautiful truth to us. What has really changed? Not our calling. Our calling to Him, and to holiness, and to His service— that hasn’t changed. What has really changed? Not our empowerment. The Holy Spirit is still available to us, moment by moment, day after day—to live the life of Christ through us, to bear his sweet fruit through our personalities. He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness. And He keeps doing that, moment by moment; that doesn’t change, that’s not affected by a headline or even a health situation. His empowerment is still available to us. What has really changed? Not our mission. You know that we’re one of God’s end-times families that He’s raised up to complete the Great Commission: this beautiful assignment that we’ve been given by God to take His loving message to our neighbors and to the nations—and to the nations that have come to our neighborhoods. This is just who we are as the Alliance family, and that hasn’t changed for 130-plus years since we’ve been in existence. What has really changed? Not the heartbeat of Jesus for the world. He who breathed this world into existence will one day make it new again to be inhabited by the redeemed from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. What’s really changed? Not our mutuality. What do I mean by that? The fact that our calling is too great, our assignment is too big, the New Testament is too clear for us to do any of this alone. But we’re on assignment—we’re on mission together, shield-to-shield, arm-in-arm, advancing the loving name of Jesus.

Yes, we live in a world of change. But really, friends, really, the things that matter—the eternal, the lasting, the significant, the substantive—that hasn’t changed, nor will it nor can it. I was asked recently, “What season do you see The Christian and Missionary Alliance being in? Organizations go through different seasons; what season is The Alliance in?” I love the question because it forced me to step back and take that bigger view. Like you, I can get involved in the day-to-day details of specifics, and decisions and emails, and all the things that go on in our daily lives, including packing boxes. But this question forced me to take one of those leadership steps back and try to get the view of the broader range. My answer was this: “I believe that we’re in a season of barnacle clearing.” I got to tell you a story for that to make any sense.

I’ve only received three visions in my life, and I don’t use that word lightly. But I believe the three times there were some momentary pictures that came to my mind that were exceedingly formative and essential and not just my own imagination, but something the Lord gave to me. I’ve shared one of those with you repeatedly of when I was in my season of illness and I saw hands that were reshaping a clay pot.

Well, the story, the vision that came to mind when I was asked that “What-season-are-we-in?” question was a vision I had in the year 2000. I was here on staff, Colorado Springs, National Office, one of Peter Nanfelt’s vice presidents. Armin Gesswein had been invited to come and lead us in a few days of prayer. And so, some of us were gathered over a noon hour. And I’ll never forget Armin kneeling, probably late 80s of age by that time, back straight as a board, calling out to God on behalf of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. And I saw this picture of an advancing armada of ships moving forward in beautiful formation. And I knew that it was the advancing of the name of Jesus to the peoples of this world, and I also knew precisely where The Alliance was in that armada, which ship we were. We weren’t the biggest and the fastest ship, but we were in formation—we were doing our part, we were on assignment, we were on mission, and we were doing this together with other organizations that are assigned to take the gospel of Jesus to the world.

I have had that picture in my mind over and over again through the years, especially as president. But we’re a 130-plus-year-old organization; that ship has sailed a lot of waters. And with any organization of this age, there come times when you need to break out the hammer and chisel and chip away at some of the barnacles that slow down the ship. Too many structures, too many policies, too many systems, too confusing this, too complicated that. Ah, let’s make things cleaner, simplified, streamlined. Why? So that we can stay in our place on assignment in that armada for the advancing of the gospel of Jesus in this world. So, I believe that’s what we’re trying to do here at the National Office with the many changes that we’re conducting. I’m sorry if we are tiring some out, if there’s some change wariness in some places. We’ll enter into a season of stabilization again . . . that time will come. But for this moment, know, my friend, that in your local church or in your field of service, you have my prayers that the grace of God that is able to bring you eternal encouragement and good hope will strengthen your heart and mind so that in every good word and deed, you may glorify God on the day that He comes to visit us. Amen.


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