To all the few and faithful, We are currently on “vacation” for the Christmas break, visiting my folks in Augusta, GA. So, I know I don’t post that often anyway, it will probably be even less so between now and January 5th. I will still try to post a couple of times (though it won’t be my top priority – my family needs some Daddy and Husband time while school is out of session), and I do have a couple of saved posts I can put up.However, let me direct you to a resource that is going on Today. Darrin Patrick, pastor of the Journey church (St. Louis, MO) and Vice President of Acts 29 church planting network, will be on a live video feed this afternoon. It will be concerning some aspects of the recent controversy regarding The Journey, Acts 29, Missouri Baptist Convention, and all the other entailments. Go to Steve McCoy’s blog to find out more and follow the link. Other than all that, I hope you all enjoy this Christmas season. I pray that it would be a time of refueling and refreshment, for myself and for all of you, as we think about Jesus, and spend time with those we love.
Here are a couple of quotes and links regarding this issue. I previously posted my inner response, actions and thoughts to this in my Thoughts on Thursday post, and wanted to try and keep the facts and murmuring separate from what I was trying to communicate there. Below you’ll find the quotes and links.
“Members of the Executive Board presented and passed a motion during the miscellaneous business session that sets down a “no-partnership with Acts 29″ rule for MBC church plants. I have not received the exact wording of the motion yet, but it is a confirmed piece of news from an EC board member.Don’t misunderstand, this does not mean that churches cannot be in partnership with Acts 29, just that if they are so aligned then they will not be able to receive MBC church planting funds. Never mind the fact that Acts 29 church plants in Missouri are thriving.I do wonder if the EB will be consistent and pass a reciprocal measure that keeps Cooperative Program dollars from coming into MBC coffers via such “polluted churches”. [Very interesting point; is the severance of funds mutual, or one sided?]
Darrin Patrick’s response on a blog regarding the initial News Story run by the St. Louis Post Dispatch (and an accurate assessment of what is true regarding the church):
“It is really unfortunate that the reporter chose the title Beer and the Bible. He promised to make the article about our church, not the controversy. The content of the story is decent and toward that promise, but the title is distracting and will be disruptive to what we are trying to do in our state convention. The Journey’s policy on alcohol is that we do not personally encourage nor do we corporately promote alcohol as a church. The article could be read to sound like we have grown as a church because of our “beer ministry.” Totally ridiculous. We have a current event discussion once a month in a bar. Far from a “beer ministry”
Please pray for unity in our state convention so that we can stay focused on planting churches that reach people in culture.”
Timmy Brister (whose post is worth reading; link below)
“It is not enough to shake our heads and move on as though we think this situation is isolated to Missouri and Acts 29 churches. As we have seen, one state’s precedence becomes another state’s principle, and if they will do this to Acts 29 churches, what makes us think they will not do it to Founders or IX Marks churches? It is times like this that I wish some of our SBC leaders would step into the ring, even if they happen to disagree with the alcohol issue.”
Scott Thomas’ (Director of Acts 29) post on Dec. Newsletter (December 2007) – here
Steve McCoy’s post (January 2007) – here
Christianity Today article (July 2007) - here
Mark Devine’s post/article (April 2007) – here
Acts 29 Statement on Alcohol – here
Timmy Brister’s post – here
I read something that disturbed me earlier this week.
The headline (what disturbed me): The Executive Board of the MBC has voted to block funding for Acts 29 church plants, according to Scott Lamb.
The comment (which I am agreeing with) – “Brilliant. Anyone who would block funding for a church plant that looked like Darrin Patrick’s gospel-centered and biblically-faithful Journey Church in St. Louis isn’t biblically-faithful. It’s really that simple. [From Reformissionary blog. I’ll have some quotes and links following in another post for anyone interested in the story in more depth.]
As I read Steve’s post, I admit that I was mad…frustrated…but not sad. It seems that this kind of thing is fairly normal – groups and denominations squabbling over minor details, and failing to uphold the common denominators and mission we have as the church, representing God and influencing the world.
Been there. Done that. What else have you got?
So when I read that the Missouri Baptist Convention is withdrawing all funding to Acts 29 church because of their “open handed” position towards alcohol (as opposed to having a clear cut policy for prohibition), my first reaction is one of animosity, not ambivalence. I’m really not shocked or surprised.
Are you? Read Matt. 23:23-24 then give me your answer.
No my first response is not of amazement at such a reality. Perish the thought that anything different might be possible! My first reaction is one of anger, and I am tempted to just stay there and let it fester.
But as I entertain that thought, I have to ask myself why am I really angry? When I ask this, I see my self peeling back a layer of my thoughts to see that really I am so angry because I’m scarred. I’m scarred because deep down what I’m really wondering is:
Is there any safe place?
Is there any place in the future for someone who wants to plant a church, with a goal towards living out their life of faith in the midst of the world around them (i.e. missional), within the already established denominations and groups of the evangelical world? Maybe I’m too worried about the “already established denominations and groups,” but that is my spiritual heritage. I don’t know how not to be concerned about this.
You have to pick your battles.
Scott Lamb writes: “This polarizes the issue of Acts 29 to the point that it is hard to be able to give any critique or praise of the movement at all. To be sure, there are some of both that any movement rightfully deserves. However, a misguided motion like this just makes the battle lines get laid down in all the wrong places.” (from 12.11.07 post; click here).
I read a story like this and I am faced with the seemingly uphill battle of convincing those who should be most for missionally minded churches, that they are actually a good thing, and not a threat to the establishment, just because they look, feel and maybe do things differently then what’s been done before. I’m staring down the eye of the reality before me, where sometime over my Christmas break from seminary, I’ll have to two conversations with people in my denomination regarding my choice of where I’m attending church while in seminary, because it isn’t our denomination’s church. Yet, its the place where my family and I have connected with God and with His people the most, and its a place where God’s kingdom is advancing and people are coming into a right relationship with God, and churches are being planted.
Yeah, its called the Journey. The same church that “sparked” the controversy between Acts 29 and the MBC.
I wonder if when Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles,” (John 16:33a), he was referring to the seemingly endless infighting that’s going on? As a guy who wants to enter into ministry, I’m faced weekly with the reality that there are so many fights to be had, but only so much energy.
A time to throw down, not lie down!
So when I’m faced with my fear of there being no place in the future for guys like me, I need to remind myself the rest of the story. That yes in this world we will have troubles, “but take heart, for I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33b). So if I’m going to throw down, its going to be on the side of Jesus, whose ultimate fight is to build His church, against the gates of hell, and even against the straining infighting of those who should know what is of greater importance in the eyes our redeeming and reigning King. But this fight is one of faith, not of hands and strength.
Its a fight to believe in the promises of God.
Its a fight to believe that He is our provision in our times of need.
Its a fight to trust in His goodness, mercy and grace, when we’re anxious and scared.
Its a fight of faith to believe what King Jesus says:
“And I tell you, your are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:33)
Here is the content for the Covenant Seminary’s Francis Schaeffer Institute Lecture Series (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) on the Emerging Church. This was a series of talks given by Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey and V.President of the Acts 29 Network. Darrin is a guy who neither absolutely praises or bashes the Emerging Church movement. Instead, he gives a really good inside picture of it, while also standing somewhat outside of it and gives it a good critical assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re out there and you’re the least bit curious, or cautious, of anything that bears the label “emerging”, then listen to these lectures.
Audio Content (page – you can download the lectures individually)
Written Content (abridged notes from the talks)
I have a great privilege to go to The Journey church here in St. Louis. One of the things I am most thankful for at the church is the solid, dynamic, idol-exposing, sin-shattering and gospel-driven preaching that comes through each week, no matter who is preaching. The past couple of weeks we have gone through a series on Transformation, with some great thoughts on identifying Near and Far Idols. Below I’ve linked two posts from the church’s website that I would highly encourage you all to read at some point.
Looks good. Great topic worth some great discussion. I’m particularly looking forward to the interaction on this topic among the speakers, especially the thoughts of John Piper and Mark Driscoll (You can check out Piper’s recent comments about “contextualizing the gospel” here).
I know that Driscoll and his crew are usually really good about posting their content on the web for free, but I was kicking myself in the shins for missing the last conference (Reform and Resurge ’06), so if I can make the finances work for the plane ticket and registration (which is only $99), then I’m going to bounce out there to Seattle and juggle my studies those weeks, because I think it will be worth it.
Here’s some brief info on the conference with a link to the schedule and more info over at The Resurgence site.
Nation Resurgence Conference 2008: Text & Context
Understanding the text of Scripture and the context in which we live are essential in preaching the gospel today. This is true whether you are a preaching pastor or a Christian that wants to reach your co-worker/neighbor. Joining us for the Resurgence Conference will be Dr. John Piper, author and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN; Mark Driscoll, author and pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA; Matt Chandler from The Village Church in Dallas, TX; as well as Jim Gilmore author and business consultant with expertise on studying the culture and trends of today. This conference will also combine the Acts 29 Network Church Planting Boot Camp which will be open for attendees of the National Resurgence Conference. Cost is $99 per individual.