Regular readers of this blog might actually wonder what I do from day-to-day. Do I sit in front of a screen and write articles, blogs and books? Well, yes and no. I do a lot of writing for sure. But I do even more work with people. I follow the "rule of thumb" I heard not too long ago from Bishop N. T. Wright who said that if he did blog he would spend one hour with real people for every hour he spent online. I spend far more hours with real people than with virtual realities and blogging. Do not misunderstand, I believe the Internet revolution is not only real but I believe it has the most amazing potential to stir the church unlike anything that has happened since the invention of movable type. I also believe that social sites like Facebook have immense value. I have reconnected with so many friends, and built so many relationships with new friends, that I have become a huge fan of this tool. But again, this all has to be managed like any other tool/resource in our lives. The blessings are huge and the dangers are likewise very real. If you are looking at a screen all day long, or all evening long, and not sharing your life and time with real people in an incarnational way then you are not living in a healthy context.
But what do I do with my time as president of ACT 3? Well, as noted above I write a great deal. I felt the call of God upon my life as a writer when I was only eight years old. I knew as a young teen that I would someday write as a major part of my life's work. It will not surprise some of you to know that I originally wanted to be a sport's journalist. I thought about a major paper or perhaps Sports Illustrated. (I was taught to dream big dreams!) When I arrived at the University of Alabama in 1967 this was the strongest orientation in my sense of vocation. But after spending time with Campus Crusade for Christ leaders and students I began to sense that the call that I thought I had experienced at age 14 was to become the actual call on my life—to preach the gospel as widely as possible. This was why I eventually transferred to Wheaton College in 1969 and this was how I began a lifetime work that has kept me here in the Chicago area ever since. After planting a church (and serving that new congregation for four years) I then returned to Wheaton to pastor a local church for sixteen years. In 1979 God began to stir me about reaching out to other leaders in friendship for the purpose of kingdom coalitions and fellowship. We called the groups that I began Whitefield Ministerial Fellowships. Some of you were in one of those groups more than thirty years ago. Those groups grew and my time was being taken up by helping pastors and churches. I was being asked to write more and to speak even more widely. Finally, in 1991, we began what today is called ACT 3. By early 1992 I sensed that my pastoral time was over and this new ministry was to engage me full-time. I have never looked back. I have been afforded amazing blessings as I have traveled all across the United States and overseas many times in the 1990s. I travel less overseas but I still get to speak and teach in every part of North America and sometimes beyond.
So what does a single day in my life look like? Well, in some ways today is what my life is really all about. After a morning in my study and in prayer and reading I will drive 85 miles to Rockford, Illinois. There I will have lunch with a group of mainline pastors who seek renewal and fellowship. I had some part in the beginning of this group through friendship with two PCUSA pastors in Rockford that support me and ACT 3 through their church. After that lunch meeting of two hours or less I will meet with a man named Bob Griffin who directs a renewal ministry to the churches and leaders of Rockford. Bob has been doing this for some years. I have known about him in the past but we will meet today for the first time. After this meeting, from 2 until 4 p.m., I will meet a married couple for dinner. I met this couple last year and they have been in dialog with me since. They are in a church transition phase and I am trying to be a friend and supporter to them in their journey. Then the three of us will head off to a 6:30 p.m. gathering of what I believe is a relatively new "house church." I will speak and interact with this fellowship for several hours and then drive home, getting back to Carol Stream after 10 p.m. (Yes, I will likely be both overjoyed and exhausted!) So I will fellowship with people from several ethnic backgrounds, leaders from a half dozen or more different denominational backgrounds, both lay and pastoral, as well as teach and share with a new house church. That is not a totally "typical" day for me but it is increasingly a fairly common one over the course of the last few years.
I am not even sure what to call all of this. I believe, if I understand Ephesians 4 at all, that I am gifted as both a prophet and a teacher. I have a strong sense of what is happening and what is about to happen. Sometimes God communicates with me in ways I cannot easily explain but I have learned to listen. I also have a deep desire to research things and then teach others in order to equip them to be kingdom people who are effective missionally. I do this by writing, teaching, preaching and mentoring. I do it over meals, in homes, in large churches, in tiny churches and in all kinds of social settings. If you followed me around for a day it might look like today and then it might look like a slower day at the office with a lot of email and phone calls. One way or the other the hardest part of this routine is to get enough time to read, think and really pray. As a pastor I had a more regular routine and this helped me a lot. As the leader of a growing mission that serves churches and people I have some routines and a lot of this-and-that. I am often required to scrap my plans and adjust, which I find invigorating personally.
If you read my comments today would you also pray for me today? If you support ACT 3 financially then thank-you for helping release me so that I can serve the catholic church as a servant of Christ. Every Christian tradition has people doing things like me but in my own context there is some confusion as to exactly how this should work. I am not confused at all about this calling but it is hard to explain to folks why this kind of ministry really matters. I suppose those who receive the ministry directly, especially when they really know me, are the same people who are most likely to pray for ACT 3 and support us. If you read this today, January 28, please do pray for me. This is a really busy day and I want to be effective in all I say and do.
Soli Deo Gloria.