If your Evangelical Alliance was given a “job description” what would it look like? Some time ago, a group of experienced and professional leaders gathered to lay a foundation for the curriculum of the WEA Leadership Institute. Shut into a large boardroom hosted by a Global Partner of the WEA this group was tasked with developing a list of outcomes or competencies that would steer the course development for our training programs.
Around the table, and spilling into corners of the room, energetic participants represented the World Evangelical Alliance main office, Regional General Secretaries from five regions, and recognized experts in association management, donor relations, partnership development, public engagement and curriculum development. Instead of merely, green lighting (brain storming) a list of desired outcomes, this capable crew began by describing the job of an effective Evangelical Alliance.
To this day, this functional description and the outcome profile that followed, serve to guide the training programs of the Leadership Institute. The purpose of the April edition of the WEA-LI Imagine is to present the content of this work and document to the public and make it available especially to new Evangelical Alliance leaders who may be asking some basic questions like: What is the purpose of an Evangelical Alliance? What does an effective Evangelical Alliance do? How does an Evangelical Alliance get on with its mission?
A national Evangelical Alliance provides a platform that gathers Evangelicals from the broadest Christian spectrum, around God’s Great Commission and Great Commandment. It is inclusive by nature but qualifies its membership through its statement of faith and expectations of and adherence to a Biblical standard of living.
A national Evangelical Alliance encourages united action from its constituencies and speaks on their behalf. It understands its publics and represents Evangelical thinking to these. It speaks collectively to secular society and governments. It engages in intrafaith and interfaith dialogue over issues of common concern. It also speaks for the voiceless and promotes peace and justice within its context. It does so with a style that is respectful yet clear and uncompromising in matters of faith and conscience. It is adept in the use of media and other public means to communicate its message.
A national Evangelical Alliance researches the needs of its constituencies and finds ways to meet them. It provides members with services and products that build, equip, and generate greater capacity. It establishes high, consensually derived standards and makes training available that enables constituencies to meet these standards.
National Evangelical Alliances utilize core management principles and practices that cater to their unique organizational nature and purpose. Healthy boards provide oversight, approve key outputs, help provide financial stability, and hold the executive accountable for the operation of the organization. Alliance leaders regularly participate in training opportunities to develop and grow their leadership, management, and governance skills.
A national Evangelical Alliance operates on a sustainable, theologically sound funding model. It courageously and creatively generates funds by exploiting the spectrum of potential funding streams. It tells its story passionately and compellingly. Funding proposals are well written and supported with clear outcomes. It respects and honors its donors and gives them cause to trust them. It understands its donor segments and manages those relationships effectively. It conducts itself with integrity, demonstrating fiduciary responsibility. It is creative in problem solving and operates in the spirit of generosity.
A National Evangelical Alliance promotes a culture of collaboration among its constituencies that lead to project initiatives. It identifies stakeholders and provides a platform to convene them around potential areas of collaboration. It facilitates process steps towards partnership formation and provides ongoing support. It emphasizes healthy relationships between partners and is willing to mediate conflict. It operates in the spirit of a Kingdom mindset, emphasizing Kingdom goals and a spirit of generosity.
The reader will notice that the first three in this list are the core activities of Evangelical Alliances. Many Alliances express these in their own words. For example, the World Evangelical Alliance uses the words Connect, Equip and Represent. The European Evangelical Alliance describes its function as: a meeting place, a platform for common action, and a voice for Europe's Evangelicals. The New Zealand Christian Network describes its function by saying it seeks to Gather Christians to share topics of interest & concern, Build networks to bring Christians together, Speak with and listen to the Church and the wider community throughout New Zealand.
The second three are methodological and describe how to go about fulfilling the functional tasks. These six descriptive areas are also well developed in some of the work produced by the European Evangelical Alliance (Towards A Healthy Evangelical Alliance) and the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean (Towards a Viable, Visible, and Vital National Alliance/Association) but here serve as summary of the basic task of Evangelical Alliances.
When a new leader of an Evangelical Alliance sits down behind the CEO’s desk for the first time, or goes to “work” on the first day, he or she may prayerfully ask, “Where do I begin?” But the more important question is, “What are we supposed to do?” Simply put, his or her new job is to get the Evangelical Alliance to express the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ, represent Evangelicals as a trusted voice before their nation, and to serve its member organizations and churches as they fulfill their God given mandates, thus impacting the nation with the Kingdom of God. An effective EA will fulfill these tasks by leading well, developing needed funding and promoting cooperative efforts and strategic partnerships.