Culture and the Church: New Ideologies: Acts 29 Church Planting Network

The Acts 29Open Link in New Window Church Planting Network is a group that is founded to plant churches with “both rock-solid theology and contextualizing the gospel.”  Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle is very involved with this church planting group.  They exist to plant churches that are both theologically sound and yet culturally relevant.  The website describes their mission well by stating “we won’t water down our theology to reach more people and we won’t attack the culture in the name of Christianity. We are planting churches that are missionaries in their respective communities sent by Christ with the gospel.”  This is a group of church planters that are focused on reaching the culture through planting churches focused on the mission of sharing the gospel to their surround communities of influence.  This is a group that in my opinion is being missional yet not diluting the gospel or minimizing scripture.  Let me post some beliefs from their website for discussion:

“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 3Open Link in New Window).
  • We believe that our local churches must be faithful to the continually changing context of the culture(s) in which they minister (1 Corinthians 9:19-23Open Link in New Window).
  • 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.”

The site goes on then to address what this movement of church planters is not.  This is discussed according to the website due to the fact that “Acts 29Open Link in New Window 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.”

The churches of the Acts 29Open Link in New Window Network are in my opinion truly seeking to live out the gospel in a radical way and to not shy away from preaching the gospel.  This is a movement that is in my opinion bringing culture and the church together in a way that is seeking to be both biblical and missional.

  • Great summary of a great network for guys to be connected to.