Steve Moore has been the President of Missio Nexus since its inception in 2011. During this year’s annual North American Mission Leader’s conference, Moore announced that this would be his last year leading Missio Nexus.
I will give some back story on the formation of Missio Nexus and a few reflections on Moore’s leadership and the emergence of a new generation.
The EFMA & The Mission Exchange
Before taking the lead of Missio Nexus, Moore led the EFMA, which stands for the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies. The Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies (EFMA), with ties to the National Association of Evangelicals, was founded in 1947 as a voluntary association of missional entities committed to discipling the nations.
The EFMA represented approximately 100 member agencies, representing more than 20,000 North American cross-cultural workers worldwide. Its primary focus was the leadership of member agencies. Its name was later changed to The Mission Exchange in 2007.
The IFMA & Cross Global Link
Another similar mission association, The Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association (IFMA), originated in a meeting of mission agency leaders in March 1917. The meeting occurred as the flowers of the Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy were ready to bloom, and theologically conservative mission agencies no longer felt compatible with or able to work within the growing ecumenical movement. It grew to 90 member agencies before changing its name in 2007 to CrossGlobal Link.
Both the Mission Exchange (EFMA) and CrossGlobal Link (IFMA) merged to become Missio Nexus in 2011. The Mission Exchange was led by Steve Moore and CrossGlobal Link was led by Marv Newell. Moore became the President of Missio Nexus and Newell the Vice President.
Missio Nexus then became the largest evangelical mission network in North America, representing over 35,000 evangelical missionaries deployed in every country by more than 200 agencies and churches.
From its start, the new entity was said to operate more like a “structured network” rather than a “formal association.” It would revolve around shared interests, passion for, and commitment to the Great Commission, with less focus on doctrinal distinctive outside of a basic evangelical statement of faith.
Since the founding of both of the earlier associations, Billy Graham’s Lausanne Covenant provided a new doctrinal foundation for evangelical mission cooperation. The changing face of the world and the context in which global mission found itself called for increased cooperation, flexibility, and retooling for a new era.
Retooling & Resistance
Moore has been calling for and leading in retooling since taking the helm. His leadership has not been without resistance. But this final Missio Nexus sponsored conference has proved that he has made some great strides in the implementation of his vision.
The 2014 Mission Leaders conference was well organized in its structure, modern in its feel, spiritual in heart, and diverse in the lineup of presenters.
At the conference this year, under the section on Globalization, Moore challenged the mission leaders present by painting a picture of what he sees as a coming wave of change for the North American global missions community.
“I believe that the slow disruption of our community will come to a rapid pace….It will blow away the deniers and greatly disrupt the delayers.”
Building Strategic Agility
Moore encouraged all present to get John Kotter’s book; Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World.
In order to more quickly and effectively react to threats and opportunities, Kotter advocates a new system—a second, more agile, network-like structure that operates in concert with the hierarchy to create what he calls a “dual operating system”—one that allows companies to capitalize on rapid-fire strategic challenges while still maintaining their existing programs and operations.
As I have been leading some of our own ministry’s strategic initiatives and pushing for us to seize new opportunities and respond quickly and effectively to existential threats, I have benefited greatly from Moore’s positioning as a executive mission leader as well as from authors like Kotter.
The mission enterprise and the executives that lead it have been known to be resistant to change and outside input. As Moore points out, many times we have continued on unchallenged in our perspectives and assumptions because we have not been subject to outside market forces in the same way businesses are.
But as options continue to expand for people desiring to serve in global mission and opacity in the process is reduced, mission structures will have to find ways to be nimble and responsive to the coming changes if they are going to survive. Moore’s advice for mission leaders is to “identify where in the mission chain you can be best in class” and focus on your best contribution in the “value chain.”
A Wish List
In his last video blog, Moore gives a wish list for the next leader of Missio Nexus.
He asks mission leaders to give the new President:
- Access to your schedule, life, and your Great Commission community
Opportunity to chart a fresh course of action, as needed
A vote of confidence and encouragement with your pledge…Asking, how can I help you succeed?
Timely, specific, and relational feedback
I can only imagine that he writes these things because he wished that he had received them more abundantly during his tenure as the leader of Missio Nexus. He said that many times the mission community “functions like a closed system” and it can have a “good ole boys fraternity stereotype” The majority of its leadership being “white boomer men only adds to the stereotype.”
As the North American mission community continues to retool and re emerge for a new generation, the wish list that Moore lays out could double as the wish list for every new generation emerging mission leader.
It is time to open up access to younger leaders, give them the opportunity to chart a new course where needed, stand behind them with practical help and support, and provide good feedback, rather than mere criticism; all in the context of healthy relationships.
Thanks to Steve Moore’s leadership opening the door and making a new way forward, I believe it will be easier for younger leaders to operate in the values of excellence, innovation, and partnership while the transitioning generation of North American mission leadership commits to healthy succession and finishing well.