Price, Utah is a place most people have never heard of and never been to unless it was merely a stop while traveling from one place to the next. The few people who have been here often comment, “I feel like I went back in time 30 years,” or “It’s as if I stepped into an episode of Leave It To Beaver or the Andy Griffith Show.” Not only is it a blast from the past but it is saturated with theological poverty. Of the 10,000 people that live in Price, 60% are Mormon, 25% Catholic, 14% agnostic, atheist, or other, and only 1% would call themselves Evangelical. Truthfully, many people from each category could not tell you what they believe, or why they believe it, including most Christians.
Growing up, things like Bible colleges, blogs, Christian literature, online sermons, or other fantastic resources were barely on anyone’s radar in the area, including my own. A Christian in my town read God’s Word, went to church, and believed what they were taught. I became a youth pastor at age 19 and served in that capacity until I was 32. I loved Jesus, God’s people, God’s Word, the lost, and wanted to see people saved and disciples made, yet I was clueless about so many things, including Christian resources.
When one of the teens from our youth group came home from college for Christmas break, he suggested I look into several preachers, including a few within Acts 29. Since Acts 29 kept popping up, I downloaded their mobile app. Suddenly my whole world was opened up. Training that I had longed for was at my fingertips, and questions I had about God, the Bible, discipleship, and more were answered. My soul was thirsty, and I had found a fountain from which I could drink. It was amazing.
My soul was thirsty, and I had found a fountain from which I could drink.
At this point I was 30 years old, had been a Christian for 18 years, and suddenly realized that in my Christian life to that point I had been drinking spiritual milk; but now I was being fed the solid meat of the gospel. I devoured online sermons about preaching, discipleship, community, marriage, and more. Blogs from the Acts 29 website were gobbled up, books written by Acts 29 pastors or mentioned in their sermons were purchased and consumed. Through this, I was also introduced to many other writers as well such as Augustine, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards.
Until being introduced to Acts 29, I had never heard a book of the Bible preached through start to finish, never knew that every book of the Bible was about Jesus, nor had I been taught the major themes of Scripture. It was a no-brainer that I would desire to join Acts 29 one day when I decided to plant a church in Price.
Going through the Acts 29 assessment process was exciting, challenging, painful, and life-giving. It was exciting because I believed I was called to plant, knew I would plant, and was in route to be a part of a growing global church planting network. Personally, I like challenges and look forward to them. The process challenges you to clarify biblical theology in written format, which forces you to think through the truth and attempt to communicate it to others clearly.
As a kid, I remember having growing pains, especially in my legs, and they hurt. Throughout the assessment process, there were growing pains. The Lord was stretching me in ways that were good but still hurt. God stretched my character, leadership, preaching, thinking, and theology. One of the big areas of growth was growing in the understanding of God’s grace. Before getting to know Acts 29, I was an Arminian, though I did not know this or what that meant, or who Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin were. During the assessment process, I had to walk through the five points of Calvinism, which made me wrestle with the Lord over these matters. God graciously broke my pride like He did Jacob’s hip; the Holy Spirit brought me to a place of holy surrender.
Being able to walk in grace, minister out of grace, and preach by grace is so refreshing. Knowing the emphasis is on Him not on me, the work is His not mine, and the success is dependent on Him is truly freeing. It has set me free to know God, enjoy Him, trust Him, and rest in Him which is truly life-giving.
Acts 29 held a great amount of significance for me before joining the network, but that has only increased since I joined.
Acts 29 held a great amount of significance for me before joining the network, but that has only increased since I joined. Attending events like the Global Gathering leaves me in awe of God. There’s something amazing about worshipping alongside pastors from dozens of countries and hearing God’s Word from men from around the world. Events within Acts 29 are also a great place to forge deeper friendships and see my character developed. More than anything, I leave for home with a renewed resolve to continue serving in my context.
Our area gatherings of Acts 29 churches in Utah have also come to mean a lot to me. We meet together for fellowship, prayer, and encouragement several times a year. Having these brothers to share life with is priceless. Our Worship Pastor joins me and agrees that it is refreshing to spend time with these men. Every time we both walk away encouraged and more zealous for God’s glory.
Being a part of the Acts 29 family not only equipped us to plant our church but has also empowered us with the right heart and mindset to send out new planters. Our church has already been a part of planting one other church, and we look forward to planting more. The network also provides us with the opportunities to partner with other church planting efforts around the globe; we plan on supporting a church plant in South Africa in 2018. These are efforts we can rally our congregation behind as well. It is encouraging for both our leaders and our members to see that membership in Acts 29 has played a role in our ability to be a part of a much bigger story that God is writing.