JohnPhotoI am the second of two sons, born and reared up in Lebanon, Tennessee. After attending Castle Heights Military Academy in my hometown I attended the University of Alabama for two years. I then transferred to Wheaton College (IL) and received both my B.A. (1971) and M.A. degrees (1973) at Wheaton. I did further study at Northern Seminary (IL) and completed a D. Min degree (1979) at Luther Rice Seminary (Atlanta). I was a pastor for twenty years. In 1981, while pastoring in Wheaton, I launched a monthly gathering for church leaders. This meeting drew men and women from across a wide spectrum of churches and backgrounds. This first group led me to establish four Chicago area groups, resulting in a growing social and spiritual network. Over time I was regularly interacting with leaders from all denominations over a wide variety of subjects. As a result I served diverse congregations as a consultant and spiritual advisor. This journey led to the birth of ACT3 Network in 1991. In 1992 I left the pastorate and was commissioned by pastors and lay leaders to direct this new mission. Having planted one church, and replanted another, I left twenty years of pastoral service on May 1, 1992.

In the decade of the 1990s my ministry grew dramatically. An office was opened and several staff joined me. A writing and conference ministry spread. But deep inside my heart and soul John 17:20-24 had profoundly gripped me with a vision I could not turn aside by trying. (This story is told in my book, Your Church is To Small, Zondervan, 2010). Eventually I called this reality missional-ecumenism, which refers to partnering together in Christ’s mission through relationships that lead us into a new obedience to our Lord’s command in John 13:34-35: “You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Around 2001 this mission I began in 1991 was significantly re-calibrated around my vision of unity. The new name for this mission became ACT3, which is an acronym for Advancing the Christian Tradition in the Third Millennium. (This name was adopted in 2006.) Today the ACT3 Network empowers leaders and churches to engage in missional partnerships within the whole body of Christ. In an age when a new generation is desperately seeking for vital expressions of Christian unity I am now persuaded that this unity can be found in truly knowing Christ, who is himself “the way, the truth and the life.”