26 Jun 2012

Acts 29 Vision Update: Matt Chandler 2012

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Blog | Pastor Duane Smets

The Resolved Church is part of an organization called the Acts 29 Network. Acts 29 is an evangelical, reformed, gospel-centered church planting group of like minded men and churches who have banded together in order that the mission of Jesus might be fulfilled. This year the network installed a new president, Matt Chandler.

Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church in Dallas Texas, which God has used to bring hundreds to Christ. Matt is married with three kids, recently beat a bout with brain cancer, is one of the most downloaded preachers on iTunes and just came out with his first book The Explicit Gospel. At our yearly lead pastors retreat Matt outlined his vision for our network. It’s my joy to share it with you…

Four Hopes For The Acts 29 Network
by Matt Chandler

I want to publicly state what my hopes are for the Acts 29 Network. My hopes aren’t complex and seem to me to be no-brainers, even though it might take years before some of them are a reality. I will be and am currently putting my efforts and influence to work in these directions. Today and for the first one I’ll state the obvious:

Hope #1 – I want us to plant churches that plant churches.

There are endless good and biblical things that we could set our energies and zeal on but that’s not why A29 was created. My hope is not that we would simply plant churches but that we would plant churches that plant churches that plant churches. That from the very beginning of an Acts 29 plant, the pastor and the people would have a vision and plan for planting another church. The DNA of all A29 churches should be a deep and driving desire to see gospel saturated, biblically faithful, missionally engaged churches planted everywhere possible in all types of locations.

We are a network of churches that are theologically aligned and philosophically diverse. I pray that the Spirit would keep us all deeply dedicated to the word of God and walking in a glad submission to the Spirit, but A29 must not become a theological club where churches and plants get involved because of theological alignment without the desire to plant other like-minded churches. There are places for that, but we are a church planting network. May the Spirit draw men who share this passion and shine his face on us as we seek to see millions of people who are far from him reconciled to him through Jesus.

Hope #2 – Be Known for Holiness and Humility.

If you ask about the Acts 29 Network you will get answers that range from how the network will save evangelicalism to how it will be the downfall of western civilization. It’s been my experience that this is true about most organizations. Organizations are either rejoiced in or criticized. I don’t know of any organization that is universally praised and only a few that are universally condemned.

As I have traveled and been asked questions about Acts 29, most people are encouraged by what the Lord is doing through the men and the churches they lead, but there are those who would consider some of us to be juveniles or a harsh type of theology police. The thing about these perceptions is that although there have definitely been situations and circumstances that I wish some of our guys (including me) would have been more mature about and some situations I wished we had handled differently, my knowledge of the network as a whole is that it is filled with some of the most godly, sacrificial, mature men in the world: men who would gladly lay down any and all of their liberties if it would serve the cause of Christ in greater ways, men who don’t seek conflict but aren’t afraid of it, and men who treasure Christ and the gospel above all.

For every story of one of our guys handling what we believe to be biblically correct in a way that isn’t winsome or gracious or waving the flag of personal liberties instead of the gospel I can point you to dozens and dozens who love Jesus deeply and are quietly training, coaching, and planting churches that will train, coach, and plant churches. We will continue to have our flaws and blind spots like all networks do, but my deep and abiding hope is that regardless of what is said of us — even by our enemies — it will have to be said that we are men who deeply and desperately love the Kingdom of God and are walking in holiness and humility. I’ll invite you to join me in praying this way.

Hope #3 – Become a Radically Diverse Crowd

One of the great joys I’ve had as a pastor and a leader is learning from other pastors and leaders. That learning has taken place in a multitude of ways. I’ve learned from men who differ from me in theology and practice and I’ve learned from those who differ in philosophy and culture. The friends the Lord has graciously gifted to me over these past 10 years are staggering and I’m grateful for each and every one of them. No where have I learned more than when I am with men of a different ethnicity who share the same doctrinal understandings that I do. When I have sat down and had a meal or a cup of coffee with Eric Mason in Philadelphia, Doug Logan in Camden, Bryan Loritts in Memphis, Bryan Carter in Dallas, Leonce Crump in Atlanta or Lorenzo Elizando in Oak Cliff, I find the Spirit of God churning my heart to see more of his glory in and through a bold ethnic harmony that reveals God’s glory and the power of the gospel in a visual and captivating way. My third hope for Acts 29 is that we might boldly and unapologetically become a radically diverse crowd over the next few years.

Why? Ethnic harmony/diversity is core to being explicitly Christian. The scriptures would teach that there are two races, the race of the first Adam and the race of the second. It’s only in Christ that we are able to find our core identity. Our different cultures carry history, traditions and legacies but the gospel transcends all that and makes us a new people, a family. We continue to value what is good and right in our cultures but submit gladly to the new family as adopted sons and co-heirs of Christ.

The cross of Calvary isn’t theoretical — it changes how we view ourselves and others. It alone can heal wounds and create brotherly affections and direction. It destroys the walls of hostility. Producing homogenous churches can be done with relative ease and a total lack of dependence on the Spirit. That’s not what I’m hopeful for. The production of diverse churches and ultimately a diverse network, that is not simply an assembly of multi-raced but assimilated people’s, can only be done through God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what my heart is hungry for. I’m praying the Spirit of God would guide our steps as we seek to better display his love for all man.

Hope #4 – Be Serious about Evangelism and Conversions.

“I need to tell you about Jesus, when do you want to do that?” I was late into my sixteenth year of life when Jeff asked me that question. He was fearless on the football field and in his faith and we were standing in the locker room after practice. It took me by surprise and yet there was something irresistible about the question to me. I had no idea what the effectual call of God was but I was caught up in it like a moth in a hurricane and couldn’t have escaped if I had wanted to. A little over a year later on June 17th the Holy Spirit poured warm water on my frozen soul and I came to life.

I still haven’t recovered from that moment. I live in an almost constant amazement that He saved me. To top off that mercy, I have seen Him do the same thing to hundreds of others. Watching the dead come to life and in several of these births being used by God as a tool to awaken a soul has created an insatiable desire to see more and more people come to know Jesus. My fourth hope for the Acts 29 network is that we would be serious about evangelism and praying for conversions.

I don’t just mean preaching sermons that are evangelistic, I hope for much, much more than that.
My hope is that:
• Our pastors would model personal evangelism by sharing the gospel as boldly in their neighborhood as they do in their pulpit.
• That we would long and yearn for salvations and would walk in a godly frustration when we don’t see them.
• That we would believe in the sufficiency of the scriptures and in the power of the Spirit to open the eyes of the most hardened of people in our cities.
• That we would train the men and women in our churches to see their neighbors, co-workers, and friends as an opportunity to love supremely by praying for and sharing the best news in the universe with them.
• That we would love the work of God in salvation so much that it would lead us to the ends of the earth heralding the Gospel until all that will know, know.

In all of this I hope that we will keep our scriptural understanding of what salvation is, where it comes from and how it happens. In just a cursory reading of Christian history you’ll find that God-belittling, atonement-denying, concession-making, castrated Christianity has almost always come through the doorway of “evangelism.” May the Spirit protect and guide us and may He draw many to Jesus in our churches and in all churches!

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