Yesterday John Stumbo, President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, posted an electronic letter to C&MA pastors addressing the decline of financial support from Alliance churches for the Alliance missions. He is seeking prayer and strategic discussions to reverse the trend, which he refuses to call inevitable or acceptable. It’s an outstanding letter. I highly recommend it.
You can find Stumbo’s letter here: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=8dd27291a5f89271c20b54557&id=52abc239aa&e=58ccdc354c.
At the bottom of the link is an individualized chart with New Life Church’s ten year history of support for C&MA missions. It’s worth a look and it will encourage people in Clarfield. We are above the national average in our giving to missions and above the goal set for churches by the national office.
When I entered C&MA pastoral ministry in 1985, Alliance churches gave around 19% of their total income to the Great Commission Fund. Pastors were encouraged to challenge their congregations to present 20% as a goal. Today churches are giving about 7% of their total income to the Great Commission Fund. The president is now challenging pastors to set 10% as a goal for their congregation.
Something has changed. We’ve seen this coming for 30 years, but so far we’ve not been able to stop it. When John Naisbitt’s Megatrends was all the rage in the 1980s, some people saw an application to the church. Naisbitt noted megatrends from centralisation to decentralisation of power; from hierarchies to networks, and from limited choice to multiple choice. In response, some church leaders declared it was becoming a difficult age for denominations and predicted the kind of decline Stumbo describes in his letter to pastors.
It gets even worse for denominations. Naisbitt’s sequel Megatrends 2000 culminated with the overarching megatrend of the triumph of the individual. Twenty-five years later, that’s exactly where we are. We have become a culture of self-absorbed individuals. David Henderson put it this way: “Self has become the modifier of choice.”
The bad news is that narcissism doesn’t satisfy in the long term. But that merely opens the door to the good news–the Gospel–which calls for believers to deny themselves rather than gratify their appetites. In other words, the darker the night, the brighter shines a candle. I see a lot of hope here in the simple message and living of the Gospel.
I’m not a futurist, but I’m not surprised to find us where we are in 2015. John Stumbo is asking us to pray and discuss this megatrend as church leaders. That sounds like a good place to start. I’m in.