Our tribe and denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance has a council every two years to celebrate what God is doing and refocus for future ministry. There are five of us from our staff here attending the conference in Long Beach. There are thousands of pastors, leaders, international workers and national leaders participating. We enjoyed hearing Francis Chan speak twice yesterday and our president, Dr. John Stumbo, speak this morning.
The emphasis of the identity of our movement is that “We are a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family.” It is important that all things begin and end with Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:1-2). Acts 1:8 talks about how we will accomplish our mission (the Great Commission of Matt. 28), in that we will accomplish His mission only because of the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
There are 500,000 people in 2,000 U.S. Alliance churches that are supporting and have helped to reach over 6 million people in many more churches overseas. This is a very large family!
While the themes of Love, Proclaim, Reach and Launch are front and center this week, it is the message of LOVE that has captured the heart of our president and comes as a word to our churches to excel more in loving one another. When Dr. Stumbo visited our church a few months back, he mentioned to me that he felt that his heart was being drawn to share this message with the entire Alliance family. After hearing this, I made sure that he received Love Revolution, a book written by Gaylord Enns on this topic. Just two days later I received a call from Dr. Stumbo that the he had read through the book and felt it was great confirmation to his heart.
I am inspired and full of faith for our tribe, as the man God has chosen to lead this movement has tearfully and passionately shared with us. He has a genuineness and authenticity that bridges generations and is willing to wrestle with hard questions and sticky issues.
What does it look like for our church to be a church that truly loves? I don’t want the cheap imitation of “nice” or “friendly.” It is imperative that we walk in an authentic love for others within our church and outside its walls too. What does love truly look like? I think it looks like a people who are known for listening intently to others when they share their hearts or stories. I think it looks like loving people who don’t share our opinion or who live contrary to God’s Word. I think it looks like loving people from different cultures and generations. A truly loving church is one who is known for praying with and for others. Love looks like sharing the truth about Jesus with others who need to know about him. Love looks like having moments when you are “all in”; serving, blessing and helping others experience God.
This next season may be a challenge for the church, as the world seems to be blurring the lines between right and wrong, and the darkness seems to be getting darker. The way that others will know that Jesus was truly sent by the Father will be the love we show others (John 17). Love is the authenticating mark of being a true Christian.
As Neighborhood Church, in Chico, we will pursue after loving one another more completely. As we follow the man who leads our movement, we will make every effort to grow and learn how to love in this season. I can’t wait to see what God does in the midst of a church and a city that is committed to such a vision.