Before CA looked like it does today, it had several earlier manifestations: the Jesus Christ Light & Power House near UCLA, started in 1968, and sports evangelism excursions to Europe throughout the 1970’s, both innovative outreach and discipleship strategies that were geared toward the youth culture of the time.
Traveling around Europe, in particular, it became evident that new expressions of the church were needed in a culture that had for the most part rejected Christianity. One of the founders of both ministries was Linus Morris, who ultimately became President of Christian Associates International, serving in that capacity until 2009.
In 1980, Linus moved his family (wife Sharon and six children), to Geneva, France, to plant an English-speaking church there, along with two other families. Today Crossroads Geneva (or Ferney Voltaire, as it is called) is a thriving, vibrant church with an attendance of between 200 and 300, and with a daughter church, Crossroads Saint Genis, 75 people strong, as a result of this church-planting effort over 30 years ago.
In 1987, because of a growing understanding of the role of the local church in extending God’s kingdom, the Morris family moved again, to Amsterdam, and launched Crossroads Amsterdam, another English-speaking international community.
Based on the successes in both Geneva and Amsterdam, in the early 1990’s CA began recruiting and training leaders to send into other cities across Europe to establish more churches.
By 2005 there were churches in over 30 cities, some continuing with fresh approaches toward internationals, others bridging into indigenous languages and cultures with innovative ways to reach people who had turned away from church but were still seeking God.
For decades, Europe has been on the front edge of western thought and culture: globally minded, postmodern, post-Christian, secularized, and anti-institutional. In response, CA became a pioneer in what later became known as the “missional” church movement through such innovative writers and leaders as Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost and many others, who gave missional language to what CA was already engaged in in their church planting endeavors.
Because of where we were located and focused geographically, we had to innovate, so our teams had to develop new contexts and bring the redemptive work of Christ into the culture and society of Europe in a new and dynamic way.
Out of this came, as one example, Serve the City in Brussels, where The Well reached into many areas of the city to offer the love of Christ and a helping hand where it was most needed, a program which has now spread all over Europe and beyond.
In the mid-2000’s, the organization began to expand into the Americas as well, based on the growing prevalence of those same cultural and philosophical trends in the cities of North and Latin America.
In 2009 Linus stepped out of the President role, and Rob Fairbanks took over, continuing to effectively lead CA through the transition of becoming a multi-continental entity. Due to a desire to return to a more localized, “hands on” form of ministry, Fairbanks resigned as President in October, 2012.
Dudley Callison, who had served for five years as the COO, was appointed President in 2013. He brings a fresh vision to deepen CA’s roots in Europe, Russia, and the Americas, while being sure that necessary adaptation and change are taking place where needed.
CA now has over 70 church planting projects at various stages in about 40 cities in Europe and 20 cities in the Americas. The CA staff includes 240 missionaries, 90 of whom are internationals from 22 different countries. As we move into the future, CA intends to remain an international and entrepreneurial movement.
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