ACMC Prepares to Mobilize 6000 Churches by AD 2000
There is a fresh move of God on a global level emphasizing the completion of world evangelization by the year 2000. Such strategies may originate at the mission agency level, yet personnel and finances must come from the church. The mobilization of the North American church for world missions has never been more critical than at this time.
Such was the focus of the management, regional directors, and several board members of the Association of Church Missions Committees (ACMC) when they convened January 4-7 in Naperville, Illinois to assess their role as catalyst for the church’s missions involvement during the next decade. Ray Howard, Mountain States Regional Director, left the retreat encouraged, feeling that the meeting “was very helpful in focusing the staff and resources of ACMC on tackling the major task of mobilization rather than just on the tasks of providing resources and tools. We made a major jump in our vision.” Tom Telford, Northeast Regional Director, summed up the meeting by noting, “ACMC is fifteen years old—a mere teenager. At this meeting, we began growth into adulthood.”
Possibly the most significant goal arising from the retreat was that of recruiting 6000 churches (2% of the churches in North America) into the ACMC mobilization movement by the end of this century. This percentage has often proven to be a “critical mass” number required to begin and sustain a significant movement. Independent task forces were assigned to report by June 1989 on ACMC’s funding, marketing, management, publishing, and membership needs. The retreat also emphasized ACMC’s desire to link up more closely with the U.S. Center for World Mission and the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization.
Those attending the planning retreat unanimously affirmed the importance of serving denominational missions programs and developing more significant relationships with denominational leaders. The majority of the churches in North America are denominationally affiliated, and 65% of ACMC’s members are denominational churches. In the past ACMC has been branded “for independent churches” that have no access to denominational help and guidance for their missions programs. Yet ACMC offers help to churches that denominational headquarters may be unable to give. Networking with churches of other denominations and backgrounds circulates fresh new ideas which can positively influence the denomination’s whole program. “We don’t want to compete with denominational missions programs to their detriment or ours,” says David Mays, Great Lakes Regional Director. Ray Howard agrees: “Most certainly, we want to build missions vision along denominational lines. That’s the path of least resistance and greatest effectiveness.”
Bill Waldrop, ACMC’s Executive Director, believes the ACMC can achieve its goals, but not without a struggle. Likening the North American church to the Corinthian church of Biblical times, he believes the North American church “is free and wealthy, but has been seduced by its surrounding culture.” David Mays agrees: “People (in the North American church) are focused on their own personal needs and concerns. That’s expressed in the way we worship and pray, in the substance of our curriculum.”
Despite the Corinthian-like culture of the late twentieth century in North America, Waldrop believes God is developing churches like the New Testament church at Antioch. Though surrounded by a materialistic, self-centered, immoral culture, the Antioch church focused its vision and efforts outward. Similar churches today will provide the momentum for the ACMC movement of this decade. “Such churches,” he says, “while not neglecting the personal needs of their own people, call them to personal holiness, local outreach, and global mission.”
In many ways ACMC enjoys distinct advantages as it seeks to mobilize local churches for world evangelization. “Churches are comfortable with ACMC because they know we’re not going to try to conform them to a model that works in another region,” says Tom Tisher, Northwest Regional Director. David Mays echoes this thought. “We don’t have the stigma of trying to sell a program to the church. We come to churches as a networking organization of their peers.”
Possibly the greatest challenge that awaits ACMC is that of awakening churches to Scripture’s missions mandate, helping them see the job is not yet finished. Says Ray Howard: “The church needs to realize that it exists to reach the the whole world. We’ve decided to culturally interpret John 3:16.” He continues: “The church has the primary role in world evangelization. Once it sees the job isn’t done, isn’t optional, and doesn’t belong to somebody else, and that missions is a key issue in its obedience to Jesus, then all you need to do is organize the troops.”
For more information on ACMC or the ACMC 1989 national conference (July 26-29), contact ACMC, P.O. Box ACMC, Wheaton, IL, 60189, (312) 260-1660.