Good News from the Field: March 2017



Reach 2017

300 high schoolers and youth leaders descended onto Washington Family Ranch for this year’s Reach retreat. They emerged with lives changed. Click the video to hear some Mercer Creek students’ experiences.

And that’s just one of the 18 churches that sent students to Reach! Overall, there were 15 first-time decisions to follow Jesus (including one from our kitchen crew), and 25 students chose to recommit their lives to Christ. In addition, we’re hearing of baptisms firming up these commitments: there were seven students baptized after the event at Mercer Creek alone.

A big thank you to the 50+ volunteers who helped make Reach 2017 such a success!

 

East Side Network Partners to Support New Plant

Last month, Rod Cosgrove of Garland Avenue Alliance Church, Terry Gugger of Orofino Community Church, and Paul Smith of CrossPoint Alliance Church started a new network. After an afternoon of punishing targets at a shooting range, the three pastors processed and agreed upon a network covenant. The next morning, they took on their first church plant. The newly formed network has agreed to send and support Bill Creutzberg to start New Ground Church in Clarkston, WA.

 

Other news you need to know…

Tacoma Alliance (Tacoma, WA): Following an extensive health assessment and intentional interim pastor, Tacoma Alliance Church has recognized that its ministry life is coming to a close. Sunday April 30th, the church will be celebrating its history and heritage over many fruitful and productive years. An emerging network of Alliance churches in the Tacoma area and Northwest Church Planting are actively talking with a potential planter to start a new congregation in the facility.

Clover Pass Community Church (Ketchikan, AK): For a number of reasons, the Field Leadership Team of the Alliance NW unanimously voted to move Clover Pass from Accredited status to Redeveloping status, following the departure of their last pastor. Mick Ewing from Juneau, AK has been appointed interim pastor.

National News: The Missionary Tour System is Changing



Throughout the 20th Century, the tour system for Alliance Global Staff fueled our international movement by communicating how God was working globally through the US churches of the C&MA in the most spiritually impoverished corners of the world. Today, there’s agreement that the system is broken. John Stumbo has asked Global Link, the office in charge of promoting global missions, to fix it.

For a couple of years, Global Link processed with regional and local church leadership to determine the problems, and what needs to change. Everyone agreed: It’s about relationship.

The first step in fixing the tour system will be an electronic calendar, which will allow for direct interaction between churches and Global Staff. Expect the rollout to begin in summer 2018. If you have additional questions about the e-calendar, contact the Global Link team at Globallink@cmalliance.org.

In the meantime, The Alliance Northwest Field Office will continue to model, support and catalyze global engagement with Alliance work internationally. Here’s a list of our core convitions about international missions:

1. Alliance Northwest Networks and churches are ripe for Global Partnerships.

2. Investing more resources in fewer places as Alliance Northwest churches will better engage our people and create greater ownership, and pave a new path ensuring long-term impact for Alliance Northwest people globally.

3. We also believe in the benefit of individual churches maintaining their current relationships with international missions work (what we call Alliance Global Connections) while designating a portion of their GCF (or other missions giving) to an Alliance Northwest Global Partner.

4. Global Partnerships will flourish best when churches are investing spiritual, relational, and financial capital together with other churches, rather than on their own.

If you would like more information on Church Global Partnership or how to develop deeper relationships with Global staff, contact Kendra at kendra@alliancenw.org

When the Nations Move In Next Door



I wonder if God is expediting the completion of the Great Commission by having people from all the nations move in next door to people like you and me. I love that our family of churches started when one man left a stuck-in-the mud church to plant among the needy refugees pouring in from Europe.  How much of A.B. Simpson’s commitment to love his neighbors still resides in us?

By now you probably know that there are currently 65 million people displaced globally. It represents the worst humanitarian crisis in the world since WWII, and yet it seems like the news cycle is growing weary of the story. Sadly, when it comes to refugees, most evangelicals support banning them from the U.S. altogether. Increasingly, it seems, we can quickly suspect anyone who’s not “one of us.” Consider what happens in your own heart when someone gets in your space that is totally different from you.

A religious leader asked Jesus to unpack the theological idea behind the word “neighbor” (the guy had decided there were certain kinds of people he didn’t have to have anything to do with).  In response, Jesus told a story.  The story made a hero out of a despised foreigner with a heretical religion – a Samaritan.  The hero’s love-in-action lifestyle to a person in serious need of help is portrayed against the non-action and disdain of local congregation leadership.  The point of the story?  Be like the Samaritan.

It made me stop and think about my life. It also made me stop and think about the state of the Church in the U.S.

God’s stated plan for you and me (and the congregations we lead) is to love those unlike us but living near us by meeting tangible needs in the name of Jesus. How does his desire to love others “not like you” find practical expression in your life, and in the life of your church?

I love pursuing the Acts 1:8 mission with you!
Randy Shaw
Field Director, Alliance NW

P.S. Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA) is our “boots on the ground” in caring for displaced people worldwide. You can trust CAMA with your financial resources that are set aside to help the current global refugee crisis. Donate here to provide tangible help for the global refugee crisis in the name of Jesus.

Good News from the Field, February 2017



CATHLAMET. Last year was an encouraging year of renewal at Cathlamet Christian Fellowship, now called The Bridge Church. The church was up against the wall and facing closure when Kenny Evans agreed to step in and to serve the Cathlamet community. Today the church is experiencing new growth, a broadening leadership base, new volunteers, and five recent baptisms. Yay God!

KETCHIKAN. Members of South Tongass Alliance Church are in the middle of a large building project that stalled due to finances.  Incredibly, a big crew of sheetrockers happened to be in town and ended up with unexpected space in their schedule. The crew jumped in and rocked the building! The church plans to finish the project with cash and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today, the church is writing their “God stories” and publishing the books to sell via Amazon – where 100% of proceeds are going toward the church’s building fund. While it may not bring in huge money, the church is being totally encouraged with everyone reflecting and writing about how God is breaking in and transforming lives. The first book has just been published; more information can be found here.

KOSOVO. Responding to a dream about Jesus, a Kosovar man recently sought out a national pastor to process his dream. Soon after, the man’s large family gave their lives to Jesus. The family is being joined by neighbors and friends and is now considered an emerging church. The church plant has been dreaming of building a place of worship. Miraculously, just a couple of months ago, the municipal government offered the group a free 99-year lease on the piece of land they desired.  What’s incredible about this is that no Kosovar city has ever given property to an evangelical church.  Note: A number of Alliance NW churches are deeply invested in Kosovo and have sent Global Staff, funds, support, and ongoing prayer.

News on National Office Health Plan



The National Office is now allowing all churches to participate in their health plan (it’s no longer dependent on the whole district’s participation). 2016 Plans have been finalized and are now available. View plans here. If you have any questions, contact Julie. An informational webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, November 4 at 9:00 am. Register now.

National Office News Updates



CAMA is on the Ground in Houston and Needs Our Help

The most destructive natural event in America since Katrina, Hurricane Harvey has devastated the Gulf Coast region and has led to thousands being displaced. CAMA (Compassion and Mercy Associates) is there, facilitating relief efforts for those impacted.

If you or your church are interested in volunteering, please contact Mark Searing or Joy Resurreccion at the C&MA Southwestern District Office at swdcmaservices@swdcma.org or (817)561-0879.

Donations toward the CAMA Disaster Relief Fund will go directly to assist these efforts. To learn more and donate, click here.

 

Dream Incentive Grant available for 2017 [materials viewable here]

Has God given you a dream for expanding your church’s ministry, but you struggle to see how it could become a reality? The Dream Incentive Grant may help answer that question by providing funding for small and medium-sized churches with God-sized visions.

Because of a generous financial gift, The Alliance can provide up to $225,000 in grants, with an individual limit of $30,000. This gift could help launch the dream that God has given you and your church – we encourage you to apply!

Go to the Local U.S. Church page on the C&MA website, where you will find the Dream Incentive Grant application (on the right side under “Locate a Church”). It is important to read the full application, including the Frequently Asked Questions, which contain helpful information about the grant’s criteria.

Applications are to be sent to Rev. Andy Kerr, 8595 Explorer Dr., Colorado Springs, CO, 80920, or kerra@cmalliance.org. The submission deadline is September 15, 2017.

 

twr360.com Provides Free Multilingual Resources for Your Church

This website has audio and video resources in 52 languages, including English, and plans to add more languages and more content. Churches may use these materials in their own church, and also as an evangelistic tool with people groups in their community who speak a different language. The videos and written materials are all free to use.

TWR currently partners with the C&MA on a number of projects.

 

Older (but still relevant) stories from C&MA:

Save with Alliance Purchasing Program

The National Office has negotiated special group pricing with several companies that may benefit your church—including Dell, Microsoft, Staples, T-Mobile, Xerox, and Stewardship Payroll Service. For more information on these special rates, contact Kris Rickert.

Peacekeeping Training at Smokey Point Alliance Church September 29-30; Salem Alliance October 20-21

Level 1 Resolving Everyday Conflict training will be held at Smokey Point Alliance Church in Arlington, WA on September 29-30, 2017 and at Salem Alliance on October 20-21.  The training begins at 7pm on Friday evening and continues on Saturday.

Learn practical, Biblical skills for resolving conflict in the home, office, church, and community. To register, contact Tim Quick at Smokey Point. 

On Controlling Our Borders: A Prayer



By Walter Brueggemann

Jesus – crucified and risen – draws us into his presence again,
the one who had nowhere to lay his head,
no safe place,
no secure home,
no passport or visa,
no certified citizenship.

We gather around him in our safety, security, and well-being,
and fret about “illegal immigrants.”
We fret because they are not like us
and refuse our language.
We worry that there are so many of them
and their crossings do not stop.
We are unsettled because it is our tax
dollars that sustain them and provide services.
We feel the hype about closing borders and heavy fines,
because we imagine that our life is under threat.

And yet, as you know very well,
we, all of us – early or late – are immigrants
from elsewhere;
we are glad for cheap labor
and seasonal workers
who do tomatoes and apples and oranges
to our savoring delight.

And beyond that, even while we are beset by fears
and aware of pragmatic costs,
we know very well that you are the God
who welcomes strangers,
who loves aliens and protects sojourners.

As always, we feel the tension and the slippage
between the deep truth of our faith
and the easier settlements of our society.

We do not ask for an easy way out,
but for courage and honesty and faithfulness.
Give us ease in the presence of those unlike us;
give us generosity amid demands of those in need,
help us to honor those who trespass
as you forgive our trespasses.

You are the God of all forgiveness.
By your gracious forgiveness transpose us
into agents of your will,
that our habits and inclinations may more closely
follow your majestic lead, that our lives may
joyously conform to your vision of a new world.

We pray in the name of your holy Son, even Jesus.

Does Visiting Your Website Turn People Away from Visiting Your Church?



A newcomer’s first experience with a church is often through its website, and first impressions are important! Visitors will make assumptions about a church’s target audience, priorities, and personality from its website, and may decide that the church isn’t “for them” before even entering the doors.

Part of this first impression has to do with how the website works with mobile devices, so here are 5 things to think about when assessing your church’s site and its approach toward mobile access:

        1. Mobile usage of the web is now more common than desktop usage–so it’s important to make sure that our web presence works well when accessed from phones and tablets.
        2. You probably could guess that Google’s influence in directing visitors to websites is huge, but did you know that 3/4 of all search traffic is directed through Google? Google uses algorithms to decide which sites deserve top billing in their results, and this means that it’s important to optimize websites for the search engine that a large majority of people will use.
        3. One easy way to bump a church’s site in Google’s search results is by making it mobile-friendly. Google has said that mobile-friendly websites will receive a boost in Google’s search results. So, for example, if someone searches for “churches in the Tri-Cities, WA”, church websites that play well with mobile devices will be listed higher in the results than websites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
        4. Check to see if your church’s site passes the Google Mobile Friendly access test. The quick test gives a clear thumbs up or down in a matter of seconds, and can highlight any problems that it might see for follow up.
        5.  If your site didn’t “pass”, there is surely a solution that can be implemented without costing an arm and a leg. The Alliance Northwest website is on a WordPress platform, and one of the benefits of WordPress is its mobile optimization. If you’d like to know more about why Wordpress is a good fit for church websites, here’s a handy article.
        6. And here’s a bonus tip: right now, the C&MA is covering the setup fees associated with creating a custom app for your church. Read more about that here.

          Happy optimizing!

          Inspiration for this article provided by unSeminary

US Alliance: February Focus on Church Planting



The Alliance has planted 20,000 churches that account for more than 6 million people who follow Jesus worldwide. This phenomenon can only happen if there is a Kingdom value at work. One sure way to spot this Kingdom value is to find a leader who is willing to partner with others, across tribal lines, to complete the mission Jesus entrusted to us. Knowing that this value drives much of the Alliance’s global strategy helps assure me the resources we invest are being used strategically.

You also see this Kingdom value at work in our own field. The following pastors are non-Alliance and leading their churches to support Alliance Northwest church-planters: CJ Coffee from The Well in Portland, Dean Curry from Life Center in Tacoma, Andy Mahoney from Grace Community Church in Oak Harbor, and Matt Hannan – who’s invested in my church planting dreams for over two decades – from New Heights in Vancouver. These Kingdom leaders have invested significantly in the efforts of our church-planting missionaries.

Across the US, the Alliance is focusing on Church Planting during February. Now is the perfect time for you to jump in and personally engage those entrusted to you in the “Judea & Samaria” portion of our Acts 1:8 mission. Would you focus on and bless a church planter near you (or known to you) this month through your congregation, youth group, or whatever ministry you oversee?

Below you’ll find simple and specific way’s to bless a church planting couple. You’ll also see a list Alliance Northwest church planting missionaries to get you started. From there, let me encourage you to include a non-Alliance church planter too.

All for Jesus!

Randy Shaw

Field Director, Alliance Northwest

Leadership Question #1: Do You Know God?



When the early church began to get traction there was a shortage of leaders. In response, the church chose some men to help out who were known to be wise and full of the Spirit. Once selected, hands were placed, prayers were prayed, and responsibilities were passed. The text says from here “the word of God spread.” Ever since, we have been raising up leaders to guide the church to follow Jesus’ final instructions as recorded in Acts 1:8.

Today, we’re asking four questions to serve in the development of our leadership base to address the same need for spiritual leaders that the early church had. Those guiding questions are: (1) Do I know God (including bible and theology)? (2) Do I know how to make a disciple? (3) Do I know how to develop a disciple making culture in my church? And, (4) How can we work together as churches to do what we could never do alone?

Over the next couple of months I’d like to briefly outline where these questions are leading us. The first question really sets up the other three. The first question we’re asking in developing spiritual leaders is: Do you know God?

The answer to this question includes issues of character, calling, and the ability to hear and respond to the Spirit of Jesus. That said, we also recognize the essential need for a leader’s biblical and theological understanding to be well formed prior to being turned loose as a “pastor” with a license.

To enter into formal leadership in the Alliance Northwest, a person must go through a doorway called an “Accreditation Interview.” This interview (sometimes referred to as a licensing interview) involves an extensive conversation between mature leaders and someone seeking to serve in a pastoral role.  The interview is designed to help discern a person’s readiness to be formally recognized or “licensed” as a pastoral leader.

The Accreditation Interview isn’t new – but how it works is.  Following tons of processing with the Licensing, Ordination and Consecration Leadership (LOC), Field Office staff, and in consultation with the National Office, we’ve altered and moved much of what was required for Ordination and Consecration to now be done in preparation for the Accreditation Interview. (Ordination and Consecration is being reconfigured as well, but to address a different question – stay tuned for next month’s news.)

The Accreditation Interview is now the primary place where we ask leaders the question: “Do you know God?” Issues of character and spiritual maturity are all vetted, but ensuring a biblical understanding of God and his unfolding story is primary before we  “place hands, pray prayers, and pass authority.”

Dennis Pust (supported by Lisa Casper) oversees the LOC Leadership. Lisa is a wealth of information. You can contact her here.

Courageously following Jesus…

Randy Shaw
Field Director, Alliance Northwest