Acts 29 and the MBC

Tim Brister —  April 28, 2007 — 25 Comments

NOTE: [I am continuing to update this as more information is made available. Since the original post, I have added three updates and expect more to come. . . Last Update: 04.30.07 :: 8:33 PM EST]

Micah Fries reports that the “theology committee” of the Missouri Baptist Convention has released a statement that “in effect separates the MBC from ever working in partnership with Acts 29 and their organization of church planters again.” Steve McCoy picked up on it here, and I think the comments reflect the sentiment of most people. No question about it, this is to the loss and detriment of MBC and reflective of a trajectory tangential to the gospel and Great Commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Committee lays out seven conclusions regarding Acts 29 Network:

1) Acts 29 is a part of the Emerging Church movement;

2) We have great difficulty with the notion or philosophy that a church can be theologically conservative and methodologically liberal. There is an inherent connection between biblical theology and missions methodology;

3) There seems to be levels of immaturity and even rebellion among the leadership of the Emerging Church movement;

4) Acts 29 should not be an organization with which the Missouri Baptist Convention networks by means of our Cooperative Program money, missions emphases and church planting;

5) A commitment to planting indigenous churches in Missouri is not a commitment to cultural compromise;

6) We recognize the diversity of opinion in American evangelicalism when it comes to alcoholic beverages. This does not negate our historic and ongoing affirmation of the resolutions at 57 annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding abstinence as the Baptist position on the sale and use of alcoholic beverages;

7) There are vast theological extremes and a profound depth of doctrinal diversity, even instances of clearly heretical statements, within the Emerging Church movement with which we are greatly uncomfortable.

Briefly, I would like to make a couple of points regarding their conclusions.

First, the chairman of the committee said,

“We are living in a day and age where we need doctrinal precision and we need to be definitive in what we believe,” he said. “The day of presuming what everybody believes—that’s ambiguous. I believe most people do not thrive well in ambiguity. We thrive well with parameters such as the Baptist Faith & Message (2000), and any clarification that can be made of a statement like that.” (emphasis mine)

Well then, let’s look back at the seven conclusions they made about Acts 29. Do you see any theological conclusions? Any doctrinal precision being exemplified from those who are trumpeting such a call? What you see is an oversimplification and unqualified conclusion about Acts 29 being in the “emerging church movement,” a disagreement over methodology (which they call “liberal” but again provide ambiguity of what exactly they mean by that), a feeling that the church planters are immature, an assertion that Acts 29 churches should not be supported by the MBC, that Acts 29 are culturally compromising (again, just how this is taken place is not provided), the whole alcohol controversy (which as we saw last summer that some saw as a “doctrinal” issue and matter of “orthodoxy”), and finally a secondary and loosely connected implication of Acts 29 and their feeling uncomfortable.

Got all that? Did you find the “theological precision” and “closure to the day of ambiguity”? What “theology” did the “theology committee” really come up with regarding the Acts 29 Network I wonder? Maybe the MBC could learn a lesson or two on theological precision from the very organization they attempt to describe as “ambiguous”. Below is what Acts 29 believes and does not believe in a sound fashion of affirmations and denials.

What does Acts 29 believe?

The short answer is that we are first Christians, second Evangelicals, third Missional, and fourth Reformed. The more lengthy answer is included below and intentionally omits some finer points of doctrine and secondary issues as we allow the elders in our local churches to operate according to their convictions on these matters.

First, we are Christians which distinguishes us from other world religions and cults. Therefore, we adhere to both the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.

Second, we are Evangelicals and in agreement with the doctrinal statement of the National Association of Evangelicals:

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Third
, we are Missional:

We believe that our local churches must be faithful to the content of unchanging Biblical doctrine (Jude 3).
We believe that our local churches must be faithful to the continually changing context of the culture(s) in which they minister (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
We believe that our mission is to bring people into church so that they can be trained to go out into their culture as effective missionaries.

Fourth, we are Reformed:

We believe that God created the heavens, the earth.
We believe that God created man and woman in a state of sinless perfection with particular dignity as His image bearers on the earth.
We believe that our first parents sinned against God and that everyone since is a sinner by nature and choice. Sin has totally affected all of creation including marring human image and likeness so that all of our being is stained by sin (e.g. reasoning, desires, and emotions).
We believe that because all people have sinned and separated themselves from the Holy God that he is obligated to save no one from the just deserved punishments of hell. We also believe that God in His unparalleled love and mercy has chosen to elect some people for salvation.
We believe that the salvation of the elect was predestined by God in eternity past.
We believe that the salvation of the elect was accomplished by the sinless life, substitutionary atoning death, and literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ in place of His people for their sins.
We believe that the salvation of the elect, by God’s grace alone, shows forth in the ongoing repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ that leads to good works.
We believe that God’s saving grace is ultimately irresistible and that God does soften even the hardest heart and save the worst of sinners according to His will.
We believe that the gospel should be passionately and urgently proclaimed to all people so that all who believe may be saved through the preaching of God’s Word by the power of God’s Spirit.
We believe that true Christians born again of God’s Spirit will be kept by God throughout their life, as evidenced by personal transformation that includes an ever-growing love of God the Father through God the Son by God the Spirit, love of brothers and sisters in the church, and love of lost neighbors in the culture.
We believe that God is Lord over all of life and that there is nothing in life that is to be separated from God.
We believe that the worship of God is the end for which people were created and that abiding joy is only to be found by delighting in God through all of life, including hardship and death which is gain.

What do Acts 29 churches not believe?

Because Acts 29 is often associated with other movements we frequently get questions about emerging theological controversies. To help clarify our beliefs we believe it may also be helpful to declare what we do not believe. In stating what we are not, we do not seek to attack those who disagree with us, but rather distinguish ourselves so that pastors considering joining our network are aware of who we are, as well as who we are not.

We are not liberals who embrace culture without discernment and compromise the distinctives of the gospel, but rather Christians who believe the truths of the Bible are eternal and therefore fitting for every time, place, and people.
We are not fundamentalists who retreat from cultural involvement and transformation, but rather missionaries faithful both to the content of Scripture and context of ministry.
We are not isolationists and seek to partner with like-minded Christians from various churches, denominations and organizations in planting church-planting churches.
We are not hyper-Calvinists who get mired down in secondary matters, but rather pray, evangelize, and do good works because we believe that the sovereign plan of God is accomplished through us, His people.
We are not eschatological Theonomists or Classic Dispensationalists (e.g. Scofield) and believe that divisive and dogmatic certainty surrounding particular details of Jesus Second Coming are unprofitable speculation, because the timing and exact details of His return are unclear to us.
We are not egalitarians and do believe that men should head their homes and male elders should lead their churches with masculine love like Jesus Christ.
We are not Open Theists and believe in the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God in all things.
We are not religious relativists and do believe that there is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ alone.
We are not nationalists seeking to simply improve one nation but instead ambassadors of the King of Kings commissioned to proclaim and demonstrate the coming of His kingdom to all nations of the earth.
We are not moralists seeking to help people live good lives, but instead evangelists laboring that people would become new creations in Christ.
We are not relativists and do gladly embrace Scripture as our highest authority above such things as culture, experience, philosophy, and other forms of revelation.
We are not Universalists and do believe that many people will spend eternity in the torments of hell as the Bible teaches.
We are not naturalists and do believe that Satan and demons are real enemies at work in this world and subject to God.
We are not rationalists and do believe that not everything can be known but that God calls us to live by faith with mystery and partial knowledge regarding many things.
We are not evangelical feminists and do believe that God reveals Himself as a Father and is to be honored by the names He reveals to us without apology.
We are not embarrassed by the bloody death of Jesus Christ and do believe He died as a substitute for the sins of His people in selfless love.
We are not ashamed and do proclaim a loving gospel of grace which sounds like foolishness and offensiveness to the unrepentant while also saving multitudes with ears to hear good news.
We are not polemicists who believe that it is our task to combat every false teaching but are passionate about preserving the integrity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Having considered the doctrinal framework and theological articulation of Acts 29, where is the ambiguity if I may ask? Let me briefly mention a couple more points and bring this to a conclusion. Secondly, as Fries points out, “Dr. Ed Stetzer is considered one of the greatest minds in SBC life today. He has worked for multiple seminaries, NAMB and now LifeWay. He also sits on the board for Acts 29. Are we withdrawing our support from these SBC agencies because they obviously support a man who is tied directly to Acts 29? If not, why not? The fact that they would outwardly withdraw fellowship with an organization that is encouraged by a man like Dr. Stetzer seems ludicrous to me.” Finally, again a curious and astute observation by Fries, “Why, when there are only 5 committee members, did Mike Green (who appointed the committee) appoint an individual who reports directly to him to sit on the committee? Denny Marr, who sits on the committee, is the Education Minister at Green’s church. Isn’t that indicative of the problems with tightly controlled power that we’ve been lamenting in the MBC?”

It appears that the MBC has more problems to deal with than a bunch of young church planters who are doctrinally sound and passionate about planting churches for the glory of God. If the best their “theology committee” can surmise in their theological conclusions is the doctrine of feeling uncomfortable, the doctrine of maturity, the doctrine of abstentionism, and the doctrine of cultural compromise, then I wonder what “clarification” they are really making to the Baptist Faith and Message and how exactly their findings clear the air of the ambiguities they claim exists.

Well, speaking of church planting, I would like to conclude with a word by Mark Driscoll about the man, the message, and the mission. The kind of soldiers we need in God’s army are those who know who the real enemy is and have the manhood to love Christ and His Church with sacrificial lives and a single-minded focus on the gospel which we have been entrusted to share.

** An Addendum **

The “theology committee” mentioned that prior to developing their seven conclusions, they met with professor Dr. Mark Devine who “presented his 24-page paper, ‘Fast Friends or Future Foes: The Emerging Church and Southern Baptists.’ The professor spoke for 55 minutes, touching off a 90-minute period of interaction with an audience that included staffers, pastors, Executive Board members and other Missouri Baptists.”

Devine, in most recent blogpost (“McLaren and Acts 29: Making Distinctions Between Missional and Emerging Voices“), had this to say about Acts 29:

“I see in Acts29 effective engagement with young supposedly thoroughly postmodern urbanites while retaining a fully-orbed doctrinal stance and a willingness to bear the brunt of attacks from progressives, liberals, and politically correct bashers of conservative Christians.”

And speaking of cultural compromise, Devine makes a dinstinction between the McLaren/Pagitt approach and the Acts 29/Mars Hill approach:

“It strikes me that McLaren and Padgitt speak of postmodernism as a formidable, almost fixed cultural, even philosophical force before which one must genuflect or be found irrelevant. On the other hand Mars Hill/Acts29 try to distinguish within the culture dimensions that are neutral, beneficial, or pernicious vis-à-vis the gospel. This view of the relationship between the confession of the church and culture strikes me as more protective of the gospel and less susceptible to relevance-chasing, heresy-endangered syncretism.” (emphasis mine)

Having listened to Devine make the case that Acts 29 is cautious to distinguish the various aspects of culture, why then, did the committee conclude that Acts 29 has a “commitment of cultural compromise?”

** Update 1 ** [04/28/2007 at 8:15 PM EST]

Mark Devine, commenting on Steve McCoy’s blog, said this today:

The Pathway article contained a vast distortion, indeed a contradiction of both my article (which was distributed to the committee) and my comments to the committee. Don Hinkle has invited me to write an op-ed peice for the next edition. I am working on it now and will post an early draft on my website.

Uh oh. It looks like The Pathway has a whole lot of explaining to do . . .

** Update 2 ** [04/28/07 at 10:49 PM EST]

Mark Devine writes on his blog,

A couple of weeks ago, I addressed the Theological Sub-committee of the Missouri Baptist Convention on the question of the emerging church. My article on that subject was copied and distributed to the committee of four persons and also to around 10 or so others who were in attendance.Yesterday this press article appeared on The Pathway website. Since its release, I have been inundated by folks who have read my article and cannot understand how the “points” listed by Chairman Rev. Michael Knight could possibly be “based on” things I have written or said. I share their confusion.Editor of The Pathway, Don Hinkle, has graciously invited me to write an op-ed piece for the next issue. I am grateful for this opportunity to articulate my views on the subject directly. You can link to a first draft of this op-ed piece here and comment as you wish.

The op-ed piece addresses various issues brought up earlier such as:

Regarding intellectual integrity and understanding, Devine wrote:

If we expect to “get it right,” I believe some wisdom I picked up as a graduate student can help us: we cannot critique what we have not first understood, and we cannot usually understand what we have not tried to comprehend sympathetically, at least in the early stages. I think of these guidelines as a kind of Golden Rule, do-unto-others approach to research and communication where apparent differences seem evident.

Regarding calling Acts 29 unqualifiably in the Emerging Church Movement, Devine said:

But just when we think we are getting a handle on the emerging church, we learn this: when church planters of the ostensibly emerging Acts29 network read Carson, they react thus, “We agree and that’s not us!” In such an atmosphere, an unqualified assertion that “Acts29 is part of the emerging movement,” becomes at least misleading if not positively distortive.

Regarding the theological difference Acts 29 with “left-wing” segments of EMC, Devine said:

Doctrine –friendly Acts29 church planters embrace a fully orbed evangelical confession that mirrors historic Southern Baptist sensibilities: unqualified confession of the inspiration and authority of the Bible; unashamed preaching of biblical teaching on sin, repentance, heaven and hell; the necessity of substitutionary atonement, conversion and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Conversely, the “left-wing” or doctrine-averse stream within the emerging church either rejects or mangles beyond recognition all of these fundamental teachings, often according to their notions regarding postmodern culture. Not Acts29.

Regarding Acts 29 competency to articulate their position on various issues, Devine said:

Acts29 church planters make every effort to base and defend their preaching, worship, evangelism and missionary endeavors according to Holy Scripture. Where matters of disagreement arise, their commitment to a biblical defense of their positions impresses me.

Regarding cultural compromise, Devine said:

They share Michael Knight’s conviction that “there is a connection between biblical theology and missions methodology.” Acts29’s resistance to the kind of cultural compromise Knight also opposes is evident on several fronts . . .

Regarding Acts 29’s emphasis on conversion and Great Commission, Devine said:

Many in the emerging movement speak of “belonging before believing,” and even when they get around to the believing part, the biblical gospel is sometimes hard to find. Not so with Acts29. For them conversion-culminating evangelism and discipleship are front and center.

Regarding Acts 29’s analysis and approach to culture, Devine said:

Acts29 church planters see themselves as missionaries to the various sub-cultures that increasingly define North America. Cultural factors faced by missionaries always include matters variously pernicious, beneficial or benign vis-à-vis the gospel message. Optimal sorting of such cultural factors will mean that unnecessary stumbling blocks to the gospel are removed while faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ is maintained. . . . . Acts29 is committed to that difficult and necessary task so that the gospel might advance. Let’s help them.

Regarding pastors who are both in Acts 29 and the SBC, Devine said:

One factor clearly separates and, even alienates particular Acts29 church planters from the entire emerging movement—they are and wish to remain Southern Baptists!

In conclusion, Devine said (in reference to a prior quote of Dr. Jimmy Draper):

Surely these Acts29 Southern Baptists are exactly the kind of young leaders who deserve the hearing, patience, and encouragement of which Draper spoke. These leaders bring things we need; not least of all, love for our cities and demonstrated effectiveness among the 20-somethings who are exiting our churches in droves.

All I’ve got to say right now is WOW. I cannot believe The Pathway could so mischaracterize the events in such a way. You know, I said something at the Baptist ID conference in February that upset some people. Actually, it kind of upset me, and I wondered why those words were on my tongue that day. What I said was in reference to Calvinism but is appropriate for this situation as well. I said, “The problem in the SBC is not that there are so many Calvinists in the Convention but rather is because there are so many liars.” Later that day I went to my hotel room and prayed and asked the Lord to forgive me and give me peace about that remark which was considered “over the top.” Yet, I am afraid to say that in the few months that have transpired since that time, that comment which was then so troublesome has become rather apropro if not prophetic.

We hear a lot of our leaders talk about revival and the need to see 2 Chronicles 7:14 realized in our day. I would rather like to see the day when we can “speak the truth in love” towards one another. Revival won’t come to the SBC when we don’t tell the truth.

** Update 3 ** [04/28/07 at 8:33 PM EST]

Scott Thomas on the Acts 29 blog has written a post entitled “Seven Misrepresentations of Acts 29” in which he says the following:

In light of some recent attacks on us and on our leadership, we wanted to “set the record straight” about a few misrepresentations about Acts 29. This is lengthy for a blog, but it is necessary for contextual clarity-something our critics don’t always practice.


1. That we are affiliated with the Emergent church

The basic characteristic of an emergent church (sometimes confused with the “emerging” church) is that they do not believe in Sola Scriptura. We believe in the authoritative, infallible, inerrant, inspired, all-sufficient Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14-17; Acts 2:42). The authority of all missionary work is founded in the truth that God has a clear Word to communicate to the world.
  From our Doctrinal Statement:

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
(See also Dr. Mark DeVine’s distinction between Missional and Emerging)

2. That we advocate alcohol use

The Acts 29 Network permits diversity on this secondary matter and pursues unity on the primary theological issues. We respect the right of Christians, organizations, and denominations to arrive at differing conclusions on this matter. So long as they are within the boundaries of Scripture, we respect those positions and welcome faithful Christians holding them into the Acts 29 Network. Together we can pursue what is most important-the expansion of God’s kingdom through the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the planting of His church.

From our website:

First, we believe that all drunkenness is a sin (Deuteronomy 21:20; Ecclesiastes 10:17; Matthew 24:29; Luke 12:45; 21:34; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:10; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3).

Secondly, we believe that many horrendous sins are affiliated with drunkenness. Therefore, getting drunk is a sin that can lead to other sins, such as incest (Genesis 19:32-35), violence (Proverbs 4:17), adultery (Revelation 17:2), mockery and brawling (Proverbs 20:1), poverty (Proverbs 21:17), late night and early morning drinking (Isaiah 5:11-12), hallucinations (Isaiah 28:7), foolish behavior (Isaiah 5:22; Jeremiah 51:39), murder (2 Samuel 11:13), vomiting (Jeremiah 25:27; 48:26; Isaiah 19:14), staggering (Jeremiah 25:27; Psalm 107:27; Job 12:25), madness (Jeremiah 51:7), shameful nakedness (Habakkuk 2:15; Lamentations 4:21), sloth (Joel 1:5), escapism (Hosea 4:11), and depression (Luke 21:34). In summary, sin leads to death and the sin of drunkenness produces only death and misery.

Thirdly, we believe that Christian leaders are to live their lives in such a way as to set a positive example of holiness for others to emulate (Hebrews 13:7). This includes elders, the male senior leaders in the church, who are not to be drunkards (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).

Fourthly, we do believe that all Christians must at varying times and in varying ways give up some of their Christian liberties in order to love people of weaker conscience. Christians must make every effort to not lead them into sin by exercising freedoms in their presence (Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 10:31-32).

In conclusion, there are different views on alcohol in our network and even on our board. We recognize that this is an issue where Christians can and do disagree, so we have no position on alcohol other than that people should have their conscience captive to the word of God, submit to the leadership of their church or denomination, and do everything for God’s glory.

3. That we view women as inferior because they do not serve as elders

The Bible teaches that both men and women are made in the image and likeness of God, which means that men and women are equal by virtue of creation and do not need to be the same to prove their equality – in the same way that a right hand and left hand are different but equally necessary.

First, Adam was made first as the head of all creation and bore primary responsibility for the creation that God had entrusted him to steward. Likewise, in the New Testament we are repeatedly taught that men are to function as “heads” who take responsibility over their dominions of family (Ephesians 5:23) in the same way that Jesus is our ultimate Head who on the cross took responsibility for our sin that was not His fault (Colossians 1:18, 2:10, 2:19; Ephesians 1:10, 1:22, 4:15, 5:23). In Jesus’ example we discover that when God made men to be heads He was placing upon them the primary responsibility of leadership and service to ensure all that God had entrusted to their oversight (e.g., wives and children) would be well-loved and cared for. To accomplish this high honor, men must learn to be like Jesus and take responsibility even when they are not at fault, and to be about redeeming things that have been bent and stained by sin.

Second, as God is a Trinity, so men need a partner who is different than them but equal to them so that they can show forth the image and likeness of God.

Third, men need wives so truly that, even though sin had not entered the world yet (and the world was technically perfect), it remained incomplete and therefore “not good” until the creation of Eve.

Fourth, men alone simply cannot be fruitful, multiply, honor God, and have the Trinitarian intimacy they were created to enjoy, and so God made women to be of help to men.

During His life and ministry Jesus both treated women with great dignity and maintained the creation pattern of male leadership that permeated the Old Testament. Jesus clearly believed in Genesis 1:27, because He quoted it in Matthew 19:4 when He said, “at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female.'” Jesus honored, taught, and loved women, and even included them in vital positions in His ministry. But He did not elevate women to the highest level of leadership, in keeping with the creation order and Old Testament precedent. (Taken from Church Leadership by Mark Driscoll).

4. That we receive money from our member churches

One of the misperceptions is that to be a member of our network a church must commit 10% of its annual income to Acts 29 Network. We do strongly encourage churches to set their church planting DNA by giving 10% to church planting. But the local elders of each church decide where it goes. Acts 29 does not act as a clearing house wielding power and control over its constituents. Many of our guys are also affiliated with denominations, like the SBC. We allow them to honor their denominational commitments but encourage them to plant local churches.

5. That we are a threat to the SBC

*** The Missouri Baptists have mislabeled us as emergent/emerging/McLaren-like. It stems from a misperception of our permitting each member church to decide its personal stance on alcohol. In an article published online in the Missouri Baptist Churches Pathway, they issued a seven-point warning that was wrongly focused on our small network. It included the statement, “Acts 29 should not be an organization with which the Missouri Baptist Convention networks by means of our Cooperative Program money, missions emphases and church planting.”

We love our SBC brothers. We don’t always understand them but we love their belief in the gospel and their commitment to missions.

Dr. Mark DeVine wrote an objective paper about the recent stance of the SBC against Acts 29. Dr DeVine is a professor of Christian Theology at the SBC-owned Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In it he seeks to diffuse the division between Acts 29 and the Missouri SBC.

6. That we are Liberal

We are not liberals who embrace culture without discernment and compromise the distinctive of the gospel, but rather Christians who believe the truths of the Bible are eternal and therefore fitting for every time, place, and people. This label has been placed on us by those who do not understand our engagement of culture in the spirit of Jesus (Luke 7:34; John 17:11; 14-19).

From our Doctrinal Statement:

We believe that our local churches must be faithful to the content of unchanging Biblical doctrine (Jude 3).
We believe that our local churches must be faithful to the continually changing context of the culture(s) in which they minister (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
We believe that our mission is to bring people into church so that they can be trained to go out into their culture as effective missionaries.

From an article by Dr. DeVine:

“Acts29 church planters see themselves as missionaries to the various sub-cultures that increasingly define North America. Cultural factors faced by missionaries always include matters variously pernicious, beneficial or benign vis-à-vis the gospel message. Optimal sorting of such cultural factors will mean that unnecessary stumbling blocks to the gospel are removed while faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ is maintained (Consider the Apostle Paul’s grappling with such issues as circumcision, the eating of idol meat, and Sabbath-keeping).”

7. That we are independent of other networks

We do not discourage or prohibit our planters from cooperating with or aligning with other networks or denominations; in fact we encourage it.

Acts 29 has a goal of planting 1,000 churches. We believe strongly that our goal has to be laid at the cross of Jesus for His glory and for His gathering of the elect. We lay it at the foot of the cross because to be a movement man must go TO the cross because a movement only comes FROM the cross. In laying down our personal goal, God may plant 5,000 churches through us.

Network leaders are all praying about a church planting movement but we aren’t seeing a movement in North America. I believe it is because of egos and logos. We want to be famous at the expense of Jesus (egos) and we want to take credit for what our organization has accomplished (logos). All church planting networks must take their personal agendas and lay them at the cross in repentance and for His glory. Through the gospel, we must pray together, work together, resource each other, promote the message of Jesus and let Him get ALL of the credit.

Amen Scott! Good word. Gracious word. Very needed word. God bless you guys @ A29.

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  • http://psalm305.blogspot.com Paul Schafer

    Timmy,

    I think Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians in 1 Corinithians chapter 11:17-19 shed light on MBC’s protest and unyoking themselves from Acts 29 Network.

    But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

    The fruit of MBC and Acts 29 in the end or the Day of the Lord will be evident to all.

    Sincerely,
    Paul Schafer

  • Pingback: The Boar’s Head Tavern » Brister on MBC Goings On

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Paul,

    We are quite Corinthian in the SBC these days, aren’t we?

    In the denials of Acts 29, they write:

    We are not polemicists who believe that it is our task to combat every false teaching but are passionate about preserving the integrity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Of course, they are not saying that false teaching should be contended against, but what they are saying is that there are certain hills to fight and die on, and if the MBC want to make it over such sillyness, then go ahead. The drumbeat of gospel proclamation will lead church planters to march on, but not in step with the MBC.

  • John Patrick

    Mr. Brister,

    Thanks for this post. I continue to see MBC-type thinking in our “neck of the woods.” Last week, a guy concluded that I am part of the emerging church for the following reasons: (1) I’m into social justice, (2) I’m into art, (3) There are candles in our youth room, and (4) I don’t mind if you have a beer in front of me. This reminds me of other such logic (i.e. illogic): (1) Mr. Brister has connections to Iran, (2) Mr. Brister is religious, (3) Mr. Brister stands for what he believes, and (4) Mr. Brister can grow a great beard. We should therefore conclude he is a terrorist.

  • http://stephennewell.wordpress.com Stephen Newell

    Dude, iMonk blogged you. You must be movin’ on up. ;-)

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    John,

    Speaking of social justice, I’ve got to get those Carl Henry quotes to you. I would post them this upcoming week, but I will be live-blogging the conference in Muscle Shoals.

    That kind of logic is scarry. Dude, I know you are feeling it right now, but I’m with you brother. One of the things I am coming to realize is how much discontinuity there is generationally in the SBC. The older generation think they have the finger on the pulse of the future of the SBC and explain the recent phenomenons such as the resurgence of Calvinism or partnerships outside the SBC with networks like Acts 29, or why the younger generation is not going to make alcohol a matter of orthodoxy.

    There are those who don’t want to listen at all. Then there are those who listen but don’t like what they hear, so they try to change the way you think without a valid argument. And if you don’t tow the party line, you are disrepsectful or “immature and rebellious” as The Pathway puts it.

    Press on man. While we pursue unity and truth in these other matters, we cannot get our focus and our passion away from the gospel. If there is anything the MBC can teach us is what it looks like to do just that. God bless you brother.

  • http://marvelouslight.blogspot.com Justin Sok

    Tim-
    I want to thank you for the way you have pulled together a lot of information and have presented fairly. It is a daunting task and you excelled.

    As a young Baptist, a generation or so younger then you and others, I am growing more and more discouraged by the SBC. I want to say in the SBC, I want to be an SBC pastor, I want to plant a church with the SBC, and yet everyday that goes by and read and experience the nature of SBC leadership I am all the more discouraged.

    A prime example is the church plant I have been working with for downtown Lexington. Our pastor has jumped through all the hoops to become certified with NAMB, yet there is an individual who is more or less lying to us at the KBC, about getting ‘recognized’ as a church plant. Our pastor has been approved by NAMB (did the whole psych evaluation for he and his wife), we have been giving money to the Cooperative Program and the KBC, yet nothing. This guy will say one thing to our pastors face, and to the NAMB guys, but he does nothing, and I am sure gets paid quite a bit for it.

    So I guess my question is: Why as a prospective SBC pastor/church planter should I hassle with the SBC?

    This could be youthful ignorance, but I have grew up in your ‘token’ SBC church, with a building plan, FAITH evangelism, alter calls, alliterated sermon outlines, etc. and I am just tired of the way SBC leaders seem to think this stuff even works (pragmatic I know, but they build systems and churches vis a vis pragmatism).

    Thou with more wisdom impart!

    Justin Sok

  • http://stephennewell.wordpress.com Stephen Newell

    The short answer, to me, is this:

    YOU are the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Another short answer is this:

    YOU are the only Southern Baptist reaching your particular people group.

    Generalize it, and you can say the best reason to stay with the SBC is because we are the future (it is inevitable), and we are doing the work we are called to do.

  • http://oursovereignjoy.blogspot.com Scott

    Timmy,

    Thanks for this encouraging word. I am working with a new church plant here in Charlotte and am currently being assessed to be an Acts 29 planter. I felt their doctrinal statment was thorough and clear. It’s a shame that so many in the SBC cannot see the forest for the trees.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Justin,

    First let me say that I appreciate your passion for church planting. As we often hear from Rainer about the statistics of dying churches (and Driscoll mentions this in the video as well), the future of the church will depend on a new movement of church planters. And I love hear about how God is working in so many people lives in this direction, especially in our generation.

    NAMB no doubt has some serious challenges to face, not the least of which is the support structure and success rate of its church plants. It may be that there is a better way to plant churches and remain SBC (for instance, there has been considerable talk and planning among us Founders guys about the need for this). One thing that needs to be said is the Great Commission is not entirely dependent upon the SBC, and God will continue to build His build with or without it. Having said that, I think the SBC of all the denominations (if you want to call the SBC that), has the greatest potential for mission both globally and locally.

    Those of us who are sticking around are doing so, as Devine pointed out, because we love the SBC and want to see reform take place. That is why I committed to writing about stuff like what is going on in this post. Things are changing, and I encourage you to stick around to see what God is going to do. However, do not feel bad or think you have jumped the gospel ship if you decide to leave the SBC. Here at Southern I happen to be surrounded by thousands of other like minded ministers, many who are future church planters, and my brothers give me a lot of encouragement from hearing about their passion, their pusuit of God’s calling on their lives, and their commitment to the local church. So I am in a position to see and be exposed to what is over the horizon probably a little more than the average Southern Baptist. And what I see gives me great hope.

    Perhaps more could be said, and if you are in Lexington, we could get together for lunch sometime. If the Lord could use me to be an ecouragement to you, it would be my pleasure. Keep in touch brother. Take care.

    Timmy B.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    Great news man about the church plant in Charlotte. May the Lord direct your steps as you proceed in partnering with A29.

  • Scott Morgan

    Timmy,

    What a day today. We had twelve first time guests today. I was preaching on Reprobation. What a sermon for first time guests to hear ! I need your address again so I can mail the CD rom tomorrow. I misplaced it . Email me at scottmorgan33@yahoo.com .We are baptizing two former Presbyterians next Lord’s Day.

    Scott Morgan

  • Jim Pemberton

    Regarding the I Corinthians reference: For several years now I’ve said that for those who have no heart for the foreign mission field, the foreign mission field is coming to us. While politically we would like to see immigrants assimilate, the reality is that it’s not happening in the manner that we’d like. Furthermore, diverse media outlets are creating increasing diversity between American sub-cultures. The worship and fellowship of a congregation must be culturally relevant. The point at which we must be unified is on content, not style. Cross-culturally, we often practice disunity of content by chasing after conformity of style. In worship, content is more than words, but the apprehension and expression of meaning by all worshipers. The style must be adapted to varying cultural sensibilities so that the unity of content is preserved. It appears that the goal content of ACTS29 is well explicated. The judgment made by the MBC appears to be based on a confusion between style and content; although, as you say, they’re not very specific.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Jim,

    I think that is exactly that Dr. Devine was communicating when he wrote,

    “Acts29 church planters see themselves as missionaries to the various sub-cultures that increasingly define North America. Cultural factors faced by missionaries always include matters variously pernicious, beneficial or benign vis-à-vis the gospel message. Optimal sorting of such cultural factors will mean that unnecessary stumbling blocks to the gospel are removed while faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ is maintained. . . . . Acts29 is committed to that difficult and necessary task so that the gospel might advance. Let’s help them.”

    I have noticed in recent months an attempt by some conservative evangelicals to scandalize the idea of contextualization. Of course, like anything else, there is a right way and wrong way to contextualize. Contextualization does not mean that you are blind to that culture carries with it inherent values and norms that can be contrary to the mission and message of Christ. So there are times where we must be counter-cultural. However, there are points where Christians can engage the culture and use it as a means of communicating Christ to a world of people separated from the gospel. Contextualization does not mean assimilitation or absorption as a result of compromise, but rather taking a critical assessment of culture, it appraises the aspects which can redeemed and confronts the aspects which need to be challenged and refuted.

    To say that contextualization is inherently evil is foolish and ignorant. Those who write the practice off as culturally compromising no not what they speak of.

  • http://ckhnat.blogspot.com ckhnat
  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Christine,

    Thanks for passing it alone. I have updated the post. Blessings.

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  • BOB THOMPSON

    HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THE NAME “ACTS 29″?

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Bob,

    Although I am not officially a part of Acts 29 (though I love what they are doing and support them in it), I believe they arrived at “Acts 29″ because they want to be a continuation of what God was doing through the early church in the book of Acts. Obviously, there is no Acts 29 in Scripture, but God is continuing to build His church. The Acts 29 Network is simply a church planting network that wants to facilitate the growth and multiplication of gospel-centered churches in the 21st century with the 1st century in scope.

    I know that is not the best or most thorough explanation, but I believe that is the gist of it.

  • blackreformingkid

    I live in England, so I’m not an SBC member, making me somewhat unqualified to discuss this issue, but can I say this? It would appear the MBC leadership is cutting its nose off to spite its face. While Acts 29 is not part of the SBC, the SBC ought to be able to recognise that Acts 29 can be a good organisation to work with for the evangelization of America, just like working with, say, the BGEA or the NAE. Then again, I’m only 17…I probably know nothing of how church admin works lol

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