Introducing “CrossGlobal Link” and “The Mission Exchange”: IFMA and EFMA Change Names, Foci

by Interview with Marvin Newell and Steve Moore

Marvin Newell, executive director of CrossGlobal Link, and Steve Moore, president and CEO of The Mission Exchange, discuss the changes their associations are undergoing.

[Editor’s note: Marv Newell, executive director of CrossGlobal Link (formerly IFMA), and Steve Moore, president and CEO of The Mission Exchange (formerly EFMA), recently discussed with EMQ the changes IFMA and EFMA have undergone, not least of which is a change in names.]

Tell us about the change of name to your association. What is it and what does it mean?

Newell: After ninety years of having the same name, we decided to change our name from Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association of North America (IFMA) to CrossGlobal Link at our annual meeting this past September 2007. Our former name, although appropriate and descriptive when the association was formed, included several words that had lost their relevancy over time. For instance, “interdenominational” is a word most church people find hard to comprehend. Also, in today’s church environment it no longer seems important to peg our identity in relation to denominationalism. Therefore, it seemed best to remove that concept from our identity altogether. A practical outcome of doing this is the opportunity for the association to welcome into membership evangelical denominational mission groups who hold to the same confession of faith that we do.

In an increasingly globalized world and multicultural North America, the word “foreign” also needed to be rethought. The nations are now among us, found in almost every corner of our continent. Missions is no longer a matter of going the distance geographically, but rather going the distance culturally. Many of the unreached people groups of the world are now living among us! The phenomenon of our increasingly multicultural society is also giving rise to an increasingly poly-religious North America we dare not ignore. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to substitute the former word “foreign” with “Global.”

The first word in our new name, “Cross,” conveys two meanings that update the word “mission” in our former name. The noun “cross” carries the concept of the cross of Christ—the means of humanity’s redemption. This message is at the very heart of our existence. The verb “cross,” on the other hand, communicates the concept “to transverse, to go across.” Merging these two meanings together describes clearly what our mission is: taking the message of the cross across cultures to those who need to hear it.

The final word, “association,” in our former name was updated with the word “Link.” Without minimizing the force of historically being a strong participatory association (which we intend to maintain), the word “Link” indicates our efforts to provide connections both inside and outside of the association.

Moore: We have described our journey at EFMA as a process of inside-out rebranding that started nearly three years ago. Inside-out rebranding is a journey of organizational self-awareness that seeks to align who we are based on our vision, mission and core values with what we do and how we are perceived by our constituents.

Once our new direction was set in motion, we gave our energy to reassessing our systems and services to enable us to deliver on the promises we make in our mission to increase the effectiveness of the Great Commission community. The final step in this process was related to how we are perceived by our constituents. We wanted to align that with our new direction.

We chose The Mission Exchange as our new name because we felt it captured the spirit of dynamic, interactive, return on investment relationships that are at the heart of our vision. We have a fresh resolve about cultivating a missional community where church and organizational leaders can exchange ideas, expand capacity, broaden perspectives, share burdens and forge new partnerships.

What other changes to your association does this new name afford?

Newell: Besides the inclusion of denominations, there are three types of connections we are now emphasizing with the word “Link.” The first is our internal networking among the eighty-six mission agencies that presently make up the membership of CrossGlobal Link. The second is our deliberate new effort to link with North American churches, especially churches bypassing agencies as they do mission directly. An associate membership has now been opened up for their inclusion into CrossGlobal Link. The third is our more intentional role of interacting with the entire global mission movement around the world. With the continued expansion of Majority World missions, we must engage this segment of mission endeavor.

Our new name, CrossGlobal Link, is more than a mere cosmetic dress-up of the association. We have dramatically retooled ourselves for the present and into the future in the face of current mission and world realities.

Moore: Actually, we chose our new name to reflect changes we had already made, and there are many. But two specific changes are worth mentioning. First, we made a shift from a purely credentialing identity to a developmental identity. For most of our 61-year history we have been known as one of the good housekeeping seals of approval for evangelical mission organizations. People joined our association primarily so they could demonstrate to others they were a credible ministry with an appropriate governance policy, and that they were fiscally responsible and doctrinally evangelical. This came with the opportunity for networking and training but the value proposition that justified the cost of membership was more closely connected with credentialing than anything else. We are still a credentialing body; however, the leading edge of our mission is now focused on helping our members, and the Great Commission community, accomplish their God-ordained purpose more effectively. That is an important change.

Second, we recognize that while local churches have always been primary stakeholders in the Great Commission, globalization has enabled them to take more aggressive action. We have developed a non-credentialing category of relationship we call Affiliate Membership for smaller organizations and local churches. We are determined to be intentional about including local churches in the conversation.

We have enjoyed a very positive and engaging relationship over the years with national mission movements such as India Mission Association, Nigeria Evangelical Mission Association, Philippine Mission Association and others through the Mission Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance. We plan to continue to emphasize these relationships through The Mission Exchange.

Why were those changes made and what do you hope to see come about as a result?

Newell: Considerations of several present day realities brought us to this decision. One had to do with the changing context of missions. In 1917, when the association was formed, missions was done solely by the professional missionary movement, and almost exclusively through mission agencies. Today, however, we find missions being done not only by the professional missionary in conjunction with agencies, but also by churches directly doing missions themselves—through business as mission and through the ever expansive short-term mission movement. The mission enterprise in North America is now derived from multiple sources. Our association needed to accommodate these realities if we were to remain relevant in this current mission environment.

Besides this, our past name was difficult for people to remember or even say correctly. The seventeen syllable name “Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association” was just too much of a mouthful. As a result, most simply shortened it to “IFMA.” Over time, many became confused as to what IFMA meant, and so had to have the whole name repeated to them after all. And once they heard it, they had to have each word explained. Our name had become difficult and confusing.

Moore: Given our focus on increasing the effectiveness of the Great Commission community, including local churches, we felt we had to reposition ourselves in order to remain relevant. The difficult dance between kingdom activity and popular culture in pursuit of relevance is hardly new to mission organizations. We follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, who, during his first missionary journey, made the intentional decision to use his Roman name, Paul, instead of his Hebrew name, Saul, so as to more effectively engage a Gentile audience. Our new identity is the outgrowth of prayerful thought and strategic reflection. Like Paul, our motive for adapting is greater relevance and increased effectiveness.

We have emphasized that when we say “formerly EFMA” we are not turning our back on our rich history but we are turning a new page, opening a new and exciting chapter in our journey as an association.

What are some of the ways in which your associations are working together?

Newell: Steve and I enjoy a very cordial relationship that has grown since we both started our new positions. We exchange emails and phone calls on a regular basis, keeping each other abreast of what is going on within our associations. Besides this, our associations hold several joint events throughout the year that are co-sponsored by The Mission Exchange and CrossGlobal Link. One is the popular Personnel Conference which deals with mobilization, missionary training, member care and management of personnel systems. Another is LeaderLink, the most comprehensive leadership institute specifically for missions. This is held yearly in both domestic and foreign locales. We have equal participation from both associations at these events.

Moore: In addition to the Personnel Conference and LeaderLink, we are in the beginning stages of combining our Tax and Finance Seminar with CrossGlobal Link’s Business Administration Seminar. We have a good model of shared leadership with the Personnel Conference and look forward to combining our efforts in the important arena of mission finance and administration.

We have also held our annual fall conference for mission executives together every three years in what has been called the Triennial. Marv and I have renamed the Triennial and now call it the North American Mission Leaders Conference. Our two associations, along with the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS), will meet together September 24-27, 2008, in Denver, Colorado. Our theme is “Mission Next: Relating to the Majority World Harvest Force.”

Marv and I enjoy a rich and growing friendship. We have gone through very similar journeys over the past year as you can tell from our responses to your questions. I made it my personal goal to be one of Marv’s most faithful prayer partners during this season. He has often contacted me at just the right moment to let me know he is praying for me.

This past month as we introduced our new identity to our membership, Marv gave a video greeting, affirming his support and encouragement. I had many comments from conference participants expressing how excited they were about the sense of mutual support from CrossGlobal Link. Marv was gracious enough to not only allow me to share a video greeting at their annual conference, but he also distributed the inaugural issue of our magazine, EXCHANGE, to their members. We are mailing the CrossGlobal Link brochure to our members with a letter from me to communicate our support of the exciting changes they are making.

What do you envision in the future for your association?

Newell: Rather than projecting an increased number of members, a stronger mission leadership role or greater impact both domestically and globally, I would prefer to speak about effectiveness. Along with our new name comes our new tag line—“Connecting in Mission.” The three circles in our logo symbolize this connectedness. Our research indicates that one of the highest values of our membership is the connectedness our relationship together brings. Stimulating fellowship, mutuality and prayer, and fostering networking and strategic alliances among ourselves, brings rich benefits. Another level of connectedness is with churches. Intentionally connecting with churches provides the benefit to agencies of being close to the roots of mission passion. Finally, by having ourselves as a united voice connected globally, we have an influential position on the greater world scene. “Connecting in Mission” is intended to increase our effectiveness on each of these fronts.

By these changes we envision advancing the effectiveness of our members in global mission and helping them thrive in their individual God-given mission. And may I optimistically add that by doing this together, our ultimate goal of reaching people everywhere with the gospel of Jesus Christ stands a good chance of being realized.

Moore: Our vision is to see missional leaders learning, serving and intentionally partnering to accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to facilitate relational and developmental initiatives that increase the effectiveness of the Great Commission community. We are single-mindedly focused on these ends.
Right now this includes an extensive menu of twenty-four webinars in 2008 in addition to the live training events. We plan to leverage technology to field test virtual roundtables that bring mission leaders together electronically in affinity groups to exchange ideas and opportunities. We are strengthening and expanding our Professional Services Network which allows us to provide niche expertise to our members through world class consultants and executive coaches.

The best way to get a feel for where we are going is to visit our new web site, www.TheMissionExchange.org. From there you can watch a video greeting that shares more about the how and why of our new identity. You can also download a PDF version EXCHANGE.

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked since taking on the leadership of The Mission Exchange is, “Why are there two associations and when are they going to merge?” In my first meeting with Marv we agreed that structural merger was not a wise agenda for two leaders who were trying to find our way in new roles. But we did affirm that functional collaboration was critical. It is this line of thinking that has resulted in discussion of merging of our Tax and Finance Seminar with CrossGlobal Link’s Business Administrator Conference. We plan to explore other options as well.

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Marv Newell is executive director of CrossGlobal Link (formerly IFMA). Previously, he served as a missionary for fifteen years in Papua Indonesia and then as regional director for ten Pacific Rim fields. Marv also spent seven years as professor of missions and head of the intercultural studies program at Moody Graduate School.

Steve Moore serves as president and CEO of The Mission Exchange (formerly EFMA). He has served as a local church pastor as well as vice president of international ministries for both Kingdom Building Ministries and later Emerging Young Leaders. He is founder of Keep Growing Inc., which provides a platform for engaging leaders in both the non-profit and corporate arena.

Copyright © 2008 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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