Mission and the Heart of the Alliance

(part 4 of a series on being a missional church: read parts one, two and three)

Over the last year and a half we have talked much about being a missional church. We want to be a church that is “on mission with Jesus”, and bringing the unchanging message of Jesus into an ever-changing culture and to new generations for the glory of God. A good question at this point is to ask whether this is a new direction or a departure in some way from what it means to be part of the Alliance.

The founder of the C&MA was Canadian pastor and author A.B. Simpson. He was a very gifted preacher and at age 21 he became the pastor of Knox Presbyterian church in Hamilton. At age 30 he became the pastor of the largest Presbyterian church in Louisville, KY. Despite his success there, he was frustrated by the church’s unwillingness to embrace his vision for bringing the gospel to the lost people in their city.

In 1880, at age 37 he was called to be the pastor of the prestigious 13th Street Presbyterian Church in New York City. He saw this as a way of fulfilling his missionary call. The nations were coming to New York and he had a deep burden to reach them with the gospel. Simpson had a big vision to bring the gospel to unchurched masses of New York, particularly those who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable in a traditional church setting. When 100 Italian immigrants responded to Simpson’s message, he asked his church Board to admit them as new members. His Board refused, for fear of being overwhelmed by immigrants and poor people. This is when Simpson knew he had to start a new work.

Despite his popularity and success, Simpson left that prestigious church because they would not make the changes necessary to welcome the unchurched people of New York. It had become an exclusive club for social elites. Simpson and his friends were winning immigrants, prostitutes and the poor with the gospel and they needed a church that cared deeply about loving and reaching the lost. Simpson wanted to start a church that had mission as its organizing principle, a church that would do everything it could to bring the message of Jesus to their mission field of New York City. On Feb 10 1882, The Gospel Tabernacle organized as a church with 30 members. They would meet at 44th st. and 8th ave in midtown Manhattan, just a block from Times Square. They were committed to being a church in the vernacular of the people, a church that welcomed all and was stripped of pretension and status.

Being a missional church, a church that centres on advancing the gospel in its city, is not new for the Alliance. A pursuit of faithful mission is how this whole movement got started. We need to re-capture this vision by living on mission in South Delta. Mission is what the alliance is all about.

(originally written for Delve on December 12, 2010)