From college campuses and the Student Volunteer Movement to elaborate conferences, Americans pushed for a new commitment to overseas missions around the turn of the century. Fredrik Franson, revivalist and founder of the Scandinavian Alliance Mission, sought to Send the Light of the gospel to the entire world. Established in 1890, as an organization to send missionaries to foreign fields, the Mission urged its workers to be culturally sensitive, evangelize, and plant churches. In 1949, the Scandinavian Alliance Mission became The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM).
The history of TEAM illuminates a missing component in our understanding of how fundamentalism became embedded in American society. TEAM balanced religious distinctiveness with evangelical conformity, making it both a success and a failure. As an institution, it demonstrated the outcome of visionary fundamentalist leadership and became a standard for successful non-denominational parachurch organizations. But over the same period, TEAM de-emphasized the power of the individual before God and stressed practicality. Bureaucratic structure, coupled with increasing political compromises, increasingly constrained the evangelical mission through organizational control. While scholars portray a natural inclination of institutions to lose vision over time, TEAM demonstrates how active leadership within the organizational environment channeled the institution down a particular path.
This study follows a chronological format with allowances for important thematic divergence. TEAM’s history is filled with dynamic men and women who illustrate change in American culture as well as their work in overseas missions. Separate chapters on women’s roles after World War I and how China and Japan were affected during World War II bring a personal touch to the pages. The final stage of institutional growth and a modern utility for the evangelical mission emerges as TEAM reframed the evangelical mission within the burgeoning Cold War paradigm.