Over the past week my wife, along with two other couples from our church staff, made our way to Vail, Colorado, to spend time being refreshed with fellow Acts 29 Network pastors and their wives. I am continually grateful for the partnership I share with Acts 29. The men (and women) who make up this community dedicated to reaching the world with the gospel through church planting has been a boon for me both ministerially and personally. The retreat gave me time to reflect on a few reasons I so deeply love this fraternity of faithful shepherds…
- Brotherhood. Leading a church is like climbing Everest. Very few can thrive in the thin air of constant critique, wayward staff and problems too numerous to count. Right or wrong, the result is an overwhelming sense of loneliness. That’s why it’s so important to find other like-minded pastor-climbers. They ‘get you,’ understand your struggles and can laugh heartily at your gallows humor, finishing with the punchlines of their own broken story. Acts 29, this cohort of climbers, has been a band of brothers for me unlike I’ve ever encountered in ministry.
- Theology. What we believe is, and always will be, important. At least it should be. Frankly, I struggle to respect ministers who’ve left their doctrine on the top shelf in ministry in lieu of the easy reach of pragmatism. A pastor who ‘isn’t really into theology’ (something one local pastor actually told me) is akin to a doctor informing you he really isn’t into medicine. However, the truth is, one always (and I mean always) impacts the other. Acts 29 not only understands this maxim but is rooted in it. Far from being doctrinaire prigs, this collection of leaders is outpacing most, if not all, church planting endeavors in the States yet is robustly committed to biblical soundness. It’s a community where doctrinal distinctives are rightfully seen as a strength not weakness. For that I’m very grateful.
- Humility. Unfortunately, I think many within the network are often painted as stiff-necked, arrogant power-mongers who desire to mow people down in their pursuit of whatever is at the end of their bulls-eye. While I’m sure some have fit that description in certain times and places, from my experience, I’ve seen a tremendous amount of humility in the men whose paths I’ve crossed. From leaders who’ve confessed of deep, painful personal struggles to those who welcome direct correction and accountability, Acts 29 has been a rich garden in which I’ve witnessed the growth of grace in the hearts of rebels turned sons.
- Fellowship. If brotherhood is a connection of heart, fellowship is a connection of sharing. Acts 29 is a place where I can hear from others, bounce ideas off friends, be encouraged by prayer, deepen relationships with old friends and lay the foundation with new friends. Like Howard Schultz’ hope for Starbucks, the network has become a ministerial ‘third place’ for me that stretches between home and church. It’s an avenue where I can speak/pray/counsel with fellow husband/father/pastor/leaders. And not only for me, but for my wife as well. In Acts 29, my spouse has found sisters-on-mission who’ve blessed her greatly and connected with her deeply. So very grateful…
- Grace. I think, in the end, what God is doing through Acts 29 is wholly, completely an act of grace. After being around men and women who are passionately pursuing Jesus and given to the mission of the gospel with hearts full of faith and hope, I simply want to stand back and watch in amazement to God’s great work. But that isn’t the call. Ours is to jump in with both feet and not only witness but enjoin this great and good mission for the King. Oh that God would continue to use Acts 29 in it. Grace upon grace.
There’s more to write but I’ll leave it for now. Needless to say, I’m grateful to God for the men and women who make up the family of the Acts 29 Network and the blessing to be a part of it.