I mentioned several days ago that we had an ACT 3 annual board retreat May 4-6. One of the items we discussed was what the people who market call "branding." Now I am not a market person at all. If anything I am nervous about it but I also know it is important in the wider picture of things and that I have over-reacted against the positive insight of marketing.
Having said this I heard a pastor recently describe his own involvement in Rotary. He said the Rotary asked the question: "What do people think of when they hear about Rotary Club?" The answer, he told us, was "Polio." I did not know this about Rotary so I guess I did not know what made it a distinctive service organization. He also told us that there were only four countries where polio was still a major challenge to children: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Nigeria. For Rotarian this spells PAIN and they want to remove this last hurdle of pain as a movement. What a great goal and purpose.
As we met in our board meeting we asked: "What is ACT 3 known for as a mission?" We listed many things we hear people say about us but we also realized that there is no simple, single answer that we have communicated to people we meet. We have a story but we have not told it as clearly as we should. The "ethos" of ACT 3 is not clear to most who run into the work we do in various ways.
We are still working on this point but in a single sentence I will tell you that what I want people to think of when they hear ACT 3, and of John Armstrong, is that we are a catalyst for unity in Christ's mission. We seek to stimulate and change the present reality of the visible church by calling it to obey the clear teaching of Jesus in John 17:20-23 and we seek to do this by reminding all Christians and churches that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is indeed "great." Jesus' commission has been given to us and our unity will clearly bring about the fulfillment of this commission in the world.
Webster says "A catalyst is a person or thing acting as a stimulus in bringing about or hastening a result." We are a mission that exists to bring about "unity in Christ's mission."