The following post is taken from our 2014 Annual Report.
Here’s a deceptively simple question: What is Acts 29?
Here’s the deceptively simple answer: A diverse, global network of church-planting churches.
I love that description, because it is accessible, memorable and, most importantly, true.
But how is that distinct from other church-planting networks? It is in our shared culture, shaped by the dynamic interplay between our theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation. All of which applies at both the level of the local church and the global network. We need to keep that vision up front and central, and not only remind one another of it, but also call one another to it. But if that ambition is going to be sustained and expanded, we are going to have to pay attention to detail.
I realize that I may have lost many of you at this point! After all, we are church planters, visionaries, entrepreneurs and ‘take the hill’ kind of guys. Details are for nerds, right? Wrong! Among the many things I have learned from the many mistakes I have made over more years than I care to remember is not only that details matter, but they matter profoundly.
Think about holiness. Progressive sanctification is made up, not primarily of the big decisions, but the small, apparently insignificant choices of our everyday life. That is the level at which the Holy Spirit works. Getting into the nooks and crannies of our affections, and restoring them to Christ.
Which is why it shouldn’t surprise us that the devil is in the detail also. The decision to leave your spouse for someone else is never made in the moment, but is comprised of a myriad of apparently trivial decisions. No one falls away from the Lord; we walk away from him one step at a time. Look at this from CS Lewis on How To Become A Scoundrel:
“And the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïve or a prig—the hint will come ... And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.”
All the way through the Scriptures, God pays close attention to tiny details: the single tree; the one man; the twists and turns of historical narrative; the importance of names; the role of shepherds and the journey of the wise men. The majestic splendour of a redeemed humanity, a new creation and the grandeur of God is made up of details — tiny pixels without which the overarching and captivating glory would not exist.
My task in this role is to ensure that the vision of a diverse, global network of church-planting churches is descriptive more than merely aspirational. Which means that my job is detail! Not so we get bogged down in it and distracted by it, but so that our reality increasingly matches our rhetoric. Which is why we are going to use this report to talk about budgets. I’m no accountant, but I do know that a budget is a costed vision, one of the vital details that makes dreams come true. It explains why we have an ‘Organizational Chart’ that depicts our structure, which we have spent considerable time crafting over the last year. It’s the reason why we have included a ‘Staff Directory.’ It’s why we are spending this coming year paying close attention to what it means to be a healthy church at the local level. It’s the explanation behind the hours expended in identifying the core competencies of a church planter, wherever he is planting.
So no, details are not for nerds.
Details are for dreamers, for visionaries, for church planters and church leaders, for preachers and teachers, for men and women who want to be faithful and passionate followers of Christ.
Details are for men and women who want to be part of building a diverse, global network of church-planting churches.
Executive Director of Acts 29
Click here to download the entire 2014 Annual Report.
To continue the conversation about building healthy churches, join us this November in Dallas for our Acts 29 Conference | North America. The event will create space for current and future church planters, lead pastors, and leadership teams to learn from local church leaders who have been where you are and to begin conversations that you’ll take home and apply to the life of your church. While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, there are important biblical principles to consider. With more than 70 breakouts led by Acts 29 leadership, you’ll go home with clear next steps for critical issues like discipleship, elder development, finances, and church planting.
This will be an intensely practical conference, with each day dominated by hands-on breakout sessions on various aspects of church health. These breakout tracks will be grouped by the size of your church, so you'll be surrounded by other pastors and leaders who are in the same stage of ministry. We aim to encourage healthy dialogue, provide opportunities to share ministry experiences, and give you a chance to learn practical handles on how to set up scalable systems that lead to having a healthy church.