As a global family of more than 600 churches across 5 continents, with more than 10 years of existence, we have a rich storehouse of experiences, good and bad, from which to draw. What if the Acts 29 blog was to be less about publicity and making a splash, and more about consistently, week after week, stewarding what God has given us for the sake of the gospel? What would this look like?
We are a diverse, global family of church-planting churches that cherish theological clarity, cultural engagement and missional innovation. So let’s take these categories and sketch out what it might look like if we had weekly posts under these 4 rubrics:
We will never exhaust the richness, the scope and sweep of the gospel. We will never cease learning from the past: our own chequered past and the church’s long history. The Bible will never cease to show us where we must grow in clarity about the gospel, and where we are sliding and compromising. The blogs on theology will have a guarding and refining function; they should challenge us to greater faithfulness to the Bible, and to the God of the Bible; they should humble us, and, God-willing, prevent us from falling into the errors that have sadly beset the Acts 29 family. They should inspire and stretch us to reach wider and drill deeper in the thinking and practice of our mission.
We will never exhaust the richness, the scope and sweep of the gospel.
Our culture will never cease to rebel against the Creator, in new and challenging ways. It follows that our cultural artefacts will never cease to reveal and obscure the gospel, in ways about which we must be attentive. Our global presence, if we steward it well, gives us a unique perspective and insight into global trends and moments. It should help us to equip each other for what is coming. The blogs on cultural engagement – from the US or the UK, from Brazil or India, from Africa or Australia – will react to political, cultural and ethical issues in a way which will stimulate us to think in gospel terms, with gospel attitudes and, crucially, in a gospel tone about our times. Because of this reactive nature, not everyone will agree with the analyses and conclusions – but that is not the point. The point is that we are stimulated together to think about how the gospel engages with, shapes, and challenges our culture where we are, and we are humble enough to learn from each other in this. Book reviews, film critiques, art and music, elections, ethical flash-points will all figure in this rubric.
As we continue to plant churches across the globe, we are continually forced to find new ways in which to pursue our mission. One of the best ways to think about this missional innovation is as follows: the biggest innovation is to do mission, and the best way to innovate is to find the most effective way to connect people who do not know God to a community of people who know, live and tell the gospel. We will steward our myriad global contexts well if:
- we transcribe and illustrate what we are doing in our context to bring people into contact with the bible in relationally rich and culturally meaningful ways.
- we take the time to interact with what others are doing and let it inform our practice.
As we plant churches across the globe, we are continually forced to find new ways in which to pursue our mission.
4. Global Family
Families share together, laugh together, cry together, pray together. This rubric is a step towards creating the family texture across Acts 29 globally, so that we get to know our 10 networks, and the churches that make them up, better and better. It is also a response to our prayers for revival at our Long Beach retreat. If we think about it – with 600+ churches, at a rate of one church a week, it would take us 12 years to get to know and pray for all our churches if we added no new churches! And we are adding new churches weekly, so that our desire to pray for our church-planting family will always lag behind what God is doing. As we move towards our inaugural Global Gathering in Nashville in July 2017, my prayer is that we will meet people and churches we have prayed for as a result of our blog.
If our blogs lead us to pray for each other, if they lead us to greater theological clarity, better cultural engagement and more daring missional innovation, then the Acts 29 blog really will be about stewardship.