Why Alliance Missions
That title actually has a double meaning. As some of you know, I work as a chaplain at Fox Run Retirement Community in Novi, MI. Concurrent with this, I’m in the process of earning my chaplaincy ordination with the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA). On the one hand, the title refers to the inspiring way in which that denomination does missionary work. On the other, it refers to the meaning of the word “alliance” – as in “partnership”…
The C&MA was founded by a man named A.B. Simpson, who actually didn’t intend to start a new denomination. Instead, he had a passion for encouraging Christians from many denominations to reach “all kinds of people” worldwide. The subsequent development of A.B. Simpson’s vision eventually resulted in what missions-historian Donald McGavern called “the greatest Christian missionary movement of the 20th century”.
Yes, the C&MA did eventually become a denomination, but its founding strategies are still worth emulating, no matter what your persuasion! For example, their missionaries are always funded collectively via churches, as opposed to only through individuals. In addition, donated money is always ‘followed’ and accounted for, in order to preserve integrity. But most importantly, leaders from within those foreign nations are always being trained by the C&MA so that they can continue, on their own, the initial missionary work. This leads me to my second point. But first, some background:
In scripture, the biblical basis for missions largely rests upon Acts 1:8. In that passage, the resurrected Christ gives his disciples a command – or commission – to preach his Gospel to “the uttermost parts of the earth”. Along with this commission, he promised that – not many days from his giving of it – God’s Holy Spirit would come upon them, and supernaturally empower them to do this ‘impossible task’. What actually happened when this Holy Spirit event finally took place (Acts 2) was that the disciples were given the supernatural ability to speak different languages to people from different nations who had gathered for a Jewish festival. In other words, to those from Egypt the disciples were suddenly able to speak Egyptian. To those from Persia they were able to speak Persian, etc.
This Pentecost-language idea still ‘translates’ into our contemporary society. After all, we’re all surrounded by people from ‘different worlds’, so to speak. There are mothers with preschoolers, bikers, athletes, business men, and, yes, even people who love horses. If you love horses, that means you can speak ‘the horse lover’s language’ in a way that others perhaps cannot. The Cowboy Church ministry to which this article is attached is based on this very idea! It comes from the heart and character of the sending God, who wants to reach all people “wherever they’re at”!
All of this leads to my partnership-alliance point, as follows: By speaking the Good News about Jesus in a ‘language’ that others who share your ‘world’ can understand, you have made them able to go back to their own close friends without you! Your work as a missionary has suddenly become sustainable. You have passed on the Gospel Baton to someone else, who can take it much farther than you can.
Why Alliance missions? From a strategic standpoint, the answer is “Because success is well worth emulating”. But from a ‘partnership’ standpoint, the answer is, “Because we all are more effective when we work together, and then pass on the baton!”