Going Forward Together: Merging the Leading North American Mission Associations

by Marvin J. Newell and Steve Moore

Editor’s note: With the merger of CrossGlobal Link and The Mission Exchange, beginning with the April 2012 issue, we will be running an ongoing column from the new mission entity.

If you want to go fast, travel alone; if you want to go far, travel together.” This well-known African proverb speaks directly into the merger journey CrossGlobal Link and The Mission Exchange recently completed. The two have become one officially legal amalgamation to form a united mission network for the North American mission interests. The resultant new mission entity, though not yet named, is now an organizational reality.

The Journey to Merger
Origins. Each mission association had a different starting date. CrossGlobal Link (IFMA) began as an association of interdenominational faith missions in 1917. The Mission Exchange (EFMA) began as an association of evangelical denominational missions in 1946. Over time, the two recognized that they held closely-aligned visions, mission statements, and values, thus opening a way for them to begin collaborating in meetings and committees of common interests.

One of the most notable jointly-sponsored events was the “Congress on the Church’s Worldwide Mission,” held in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1966. Co-sponsoring that event became a pivotal moment in the relationship between IFMA and EFMA. The two jointly published and heavily promoted the influential Wheaton Declaration and the book, The Church’s Worldwide Mission, which emanated from that congress. The conference demonstrated that IFMA and EFMA were two associations of kindred mind and spirit.

As time progressed, the two continued to discover their commonalities and the benefits of deeper collaboration. Cooperative joint standing committees and mission-related conferences, consultations, and leadership training events ensued. This resulted in many asking the inevitable question, “Why are there two mission associations in North America?”

Desire to merge. Considering these increased collaborative efforts, many of the leadership in both associations felt the time was ripe to merge. In September 2010, a Joint Merger Task Force was formed to explore the possibility. Through frequent meetings and negotiations, the Task Force drew up a document that recommended merger based on an organizational structure that would move from tightly-structured associations toward a more open network.

Subsequently, the boards of each association unanimously approved merger based on that document. Finally, at their respective annual business meetings in October 2011, the memberships of both associations affirmed the recommendation of their boards and voted to merge.  

The right time. After forty-five years of on-and-off discussions, this was the right time to act. Both associations negotiated the merger from positions of strength; both were solvent financially, well positioned in the wider mission community, and strong in membership make-up. Neither was in need of merging in order to survive. One group did not throw a lifeline to the other. The merger was not a big brother takeover of the other. They have become equal parts of a whole under a new legal entity, a new name, and a new brand.

A Reset Moment
The theme of the 2011 North American Mission Leaders Conference was “Reset: Mission in a Context of Deep Change.” It seems fitting that the vote to merge came on the heels of an event exploring the exponential and largely irreversible deep changes impacting the Great Commission community in North America and around the world. The case statement article for the conference framed well the context for this historic decision:

Deep change thrusts leaders into a perfect storm of urgency, uncertainty, and vulnerability…Yet there is an upside to this perfect storm…Exponential and irrevocable change opens a window of unprecedented opportunity. Leaders fortunate enough to lead during deep change almost always have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modify structures and “bet the farm” on innovative strategies that would otherwise never be considered, much less embraced.

Toward a Preferred Future
The preferred future outlined by the Joint Merger Task Force included five affirmation statements about the future we envision for the new mission entity:

1. The new entity is a powerful model of a unified, broadly-based, evangelical, forward-thinking, national mission movement for the rest of the world.

2. The new entity builds on the best CrossGlobal Link and The Mission Exchange have to offer, leveraging these combined strengths to envision new ways to increase the effectiveness of the Great Commission community in North America.

3. Leaders from the Majority World/Global South have a single point of entry for communication and engagement with the widest network of mission-focused evangelicals in North America.

4. The new entity is ideally positioned to harness the collective wisdom and experience of the most inclusive (church, business, education, mission) network of North American Great Commission-oriented evangelicals.

5. The new entity’s mission related and relational ethos, along with its agile organizational structure, attracts growing numbers of next generation mission leaders, as well as innovative pioneers who operate on the periphery of the traditional mission enterprise.

This preferred future will require our best thinking and highest effort, combined with the favor and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We view this as a vision worthy of sacrificial obedience and invite you to join us on this God-honoring journey to bless the nations.

…..

Dr. Marvin Newell is executive director of CrossGlobal Link. 

Steve Moore is president/CEO of The Mission Exchange.

EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 104-105, 113. Copyright  © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.

 


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