Acts 29 Midwest Meeting
Today we attended the Acts 29 Midwest quarterly meeting. It’s basically a get-together of Acts 29 church planters, leaders, and other interested parties. The meeting took place at the Journey in St. Louis. We enjoyed reconnecting with Journey pastor Steve Miller- the last time we saw him he had to leave the Upstream Jet Set trip to Marsaille early due to a stomach bug. He’s better now.
We work with a lot of Acts 29 guys. In fact, we’ve got on on our board of directors- Kevin Jamison, pastor of the Oaks Community Church in Middletown, Ohio. We’ve always appreciated Acts 29 and their contribution to the ongoing conversation among leaders about the need for culturally appropriate expressions of the church. They have provided a sense of movement and identity for hundreds (thousands?) of church planters who would otherwise be on their own.
That said, this was our first official Acts 29 function. The short meeting was a “mini-conference” of sorts- with a message by Bob Thune of Coram Deo in Omaha and a live interview with “Your Jesus is Too Safe” author Jared Wilson. We went into the meeting with certain expectations. We wanted to connect with some of the planters/pastors. We wanted to catch up with friends. We wanted to check in with the Acts 29 network to see how things were going, and how involved Acts 29 churches were in international missions.
Some things that surprised us about the meeting:
- Not everyone was white and middle class. Call us ignorant, but most of our interaction with the network was with 30 yr. old white guys who grew up in the suburbs but moved into the city to plant a church. But in a roomful of Acts 29 planters, there were a handful of black, Korean, Chinese, and Filipino church planting teams.
- Women were present. Sure the network is a boys club, but there were several ladies in the room- planter’s wives, no doubt, but it was nice to see. Some might have us believe that Acts 29 would block them at the door.
- Hair: As much gray and as gelled spikey. Who knew that Acts 29 had anyone younger than Darrin Patrick?
- Despite being made up of young and innovative guys, a lot of what we heard was surprisingly modern and, well, traditional. It’s a wonder these guys ever get lumped in with the emerging church. We heard a lot of proposition, a lot of linear discussion, and quite a bit of “how-to.” Maybe an Acts 29 meeting in California wouldn’t be as modern.
- Lots of those in attendance weren’t actually part of the Acts 29 network. There were students, denominational representatives, Darrin Patrick fanboys, and at least a couple Driscoll wannabes.
As much as we were surprised, we also saw lots of what we expected to see at an Acts 29 meeting:
- A relentless focus on the gospel. Seriously, we heard countless references to the gospel- being “gospel centered,” “gospel focused,” and “gospel literate.” Acts 29 leaves no doubt in our minds that the gospel is the single most important thing to them.
- Lots of sports analogies. Acts 29 is a bit of a boys club, and they like to talk about “wins” and “home runs” and “moving the ball down the field.” Thune’s curriculum, “The Gospel-Centered Life” was referred to as a “playbook.”
- Macbooks, iPhones, and horn-rimmed glasses. The stereotype isn’t totally unfounded.
- No-nonsense, honest, straightforward communication. I get the feeling that nobody at an Acts 29 meeting is going to tell you everything’s okay unless it really is okay. They seem to practice a kind of radical honesty that is both refreshing and unnerving at the same time.
- Fun. Everyone there wanted to be there. They genuinely enjoyed being together, and we felt welcome.
We’d like to thank Acts 29, the Journey, and Lifepoint Ozark for letting us tag along. We’re fans of Acts 29, and we look forward to serving network churches however we can. Be sure to check out the Acts 29 website for more information.