One of the most fruitful strategies that I believe God has given to the ACT3 Network is what we call a Unity Factor Forum. This event is a five-and-a-half hour gathering which allows participants from a given area to gather around the theme of John 17:21-24. My role is not to create something new, or to insert ACT3 into your ministry, but to gather Christians in an area and then help them to envision how partnering together might help them to have a much stronger witness than they’ve had when they have not worked together.
I began hosting Unity Factor Forums in January 2013. At first I lectured for about half of the time (three full presentations). We shared questions over a meal and a few others were asked to tell their story of unity in mission. After leading several of these, and after a faithful friend encouraged me to reshape the event and do less teaching in oder to allow more participation, I saw clearly how this was a far better approach. Now a Unity Factor Forum begins with my story and the prayer of Jesus in John 17. Then during the second hour we hear from three or four others who share their story of the same kind of calling and mission. Very often these story-tellers come from very different backgrounds. We have had missionaries, students, ministers, priests, monks, homemakers and teachers all share with us. The more varied these stories the better the event will be. I have recently video taped a few of these stories. You can see some at www.act3network.com.
I now attempt to conduct 6 to 10 Unity Factor Forums each year. We’ve done three of them this year and have two more planned for the fall. We are working on several more locations and dates this month. If you are interested in hosting a Unity Factor Forum in your city please let me know. The procedure is rather simple. ACT3 bears all expenses and handles the registrations, etc. All you do is secure a meeting site and work very hard to get people to attend. We generally have between 25-50 who will attend such an event. We meet on either a Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., or on a Sunday, from 3:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. If we meet on Saturday we share lunch together and if we meet on Sunday we share a light dinner. The meal is central to this time we share together since this is where we meet one another and tell “our story” to each other. It is also where the best questions rise to the surface and then get addressed.
If you live in the Chicago area, or within less than four hours drive time, it is fairly easy to plan an event for your city/area. If you are further away then I can still come to our city but we need more flexibility in order to plan a successful event since I will need to fly into the nearest city. We have found that churches and campus ministries which are connected to a college community work exceptionally well. Having said this I must add that any context can work. We have met in Catholic or Protestant space and we generally have a fruitful event if we have people from a variety of Christian traditions and experiences.
Please contact me at JohnA1949@act3network.com if you’re interested in hosting a Unity Factor Forum. We can come to your city if you really do want to impact Christians for unity in the mission of Christ’s kingdom.