Yesterday, I said that "the evidence is clear that the church in America is in spiritual, moral and numerical decline. Since the Second Great Awakening (1800-1830) we have not seen decreases like those we now see in the American Church. The church seems to have become a dysfunctional family with little or no impact. God’s solution is found in the prayer that Jesus prayed in John 17." This analysis is at the heart of the case I am making for you to help me bring about a change that is long overdue.
Admittedly, our imperfect state requires we “make every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit.” God knows that given our selfish, prideful roots it isn’t easy to actually do this. His call to making disciples in the unity of the Spirit falls on each of us, and is the core of the ACT 3 mission for the renewal of the visible church. Our unity in mission can only be empowered and fulfilled in a church—in a people—who will obediently restore their relationship with God, and learn again to love Him with heart, soul and mind. His call to love one another can only be effective out of an overflowing love for God, “so the world will (come to) know (the Savior).” (Jn.17:23) This is God’s sole prescription for any positive impact we would hope to have on culture.
My personal vision and commitment: Rightly understood, God has called his church to a dynamic, active relationship, not to a religion. In the history of all human experience nothing compares to this relationship. The whole of Scripture shares his unfolding plan to restore our relationship with God and all his people. He created us in his image and intervened at great cost to save us. The living God literally indwells his people as we follow Jesus into the world. As familiar as this story line may be, it is NOT how the church is actually living. But in the midst of today’s spiritual confusion God has given us a wake up call on an international scale, through the current political and economic turmoil. Amid this reality, our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ who, in the Father and in believers, is at work in this world. (Jn.17:26) I have thus committed every talent and resource at my disposal for the rest of my life to this endeavor. I entreat you who love Christ and his mission to join with me on this hope-filled journey. With this hope clearly in mind, let me describe for you the five-fold plan for the ACT 3 Mission.
Your Church Is Too Small (April, 2010): My new book expresses the culmination of a lifetime of study and experience. This seminal work on missional-ecumenism–unity focused upon Christ in our mission–represents both a wakeup call and an action manual, both for discipleship and for evangelism. It provides the theological framework for the rest of my life’s ministry, and will be leveraged throughout the ACT 3 ministry.
The other written venues such as ACT 3 Weekly, Viewpoint and my daily blogs will continue to complement the truths outlined in this book, and will help our growing audience understand and apply its core insights.
Speaking & Teaching
Seminars and Creative Conferences: Missional-ecumenism will also be the main theme in conferences, seminars and other speaking engagements in the years ahead.
Webinars: One- and two-hour presentations will be made available to groups of various sizes. These sessions will cover material similar to public speaking engagements, will include more application and interaction, and will encourage direct accountability links.
Other E-based Options. Seminars and conferences will be reformatted wherever practical to be delivered via the ACT 3 Web site as pods or modules. You Tube broadcasts and video-blasts will also become a significant part of our witness.
Mentoring, Life Coaching, Discipling: The Scriptural model for life change is clear: God intends for us to live our life together, to serve one another in practical ways, and to be a body of people strengthened by one-on-one ministry of discipleship (today better understood as mentoring or life coaching). A significant aspect of my ministry is to sow deeply into the lives of a few, thus developing younger Christian leaders in all vocations. (2 Tim. 2:2) The goal is that they in turn will foster new and complementary leaders and ministries that result in a new model of ministry for this post-Christian age.
Building Missional Networks – Peer to Peer
Social Networking: The Internet has become ubiquitous during this era of incredible technological change. What is only recently apparent is just how powerful this tool has become for connecting people at much deeper levels—e.g. Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, etc. Working with others in the next few years, I hope to develop mechanisms which connect people in ways that foster growth through missional-ecumenism and accountability.
The Scripture tells how God intervened in human history to restore relationship with us. We in turn have stories of our own as He teaches and uses us to reach out with other Christians in corporate partnership. We propose to gather and post these personal stories, in both electronic and oral/video forms, to demonstrate the life-changing power God applies through a church in love with him and united in his mission.
Building Missional Networks – Ministry to Ministry
Partnerships and Alliances: It would be hypocritical to preach and teach about God’s plan for His children to corporately advance His mission, and then do this work privately. I will seek partnerships with every individual or ministry sharing our goals. I am eager to share our resources, to leverage the competencies of others for this larger mission, and to freely give away all that we can. This is already expressed through my mentoring and teaching at Wheaton Graduate School, and in my work with the Center for Christ & Culture in Dallas, Texas. In whatever priorities ACT 3 pursues, I will always seek anyone else we can work with in sharing our vision and mission. Our passion is to build bridges, to build a sufficient base that this mission and vision will last beyond my years, to the honor and glory of God.
Call to Engagement. The church has come to a proverbial fork in the road, a crisis moment in history, and in less tha
n a generation it will look
very different if allowed to continue along its current path. But in following God’s prescription to live together in love for one another, unified by a common mission to go beyond the walls of our church buildings, and living as our Lord did with compassion for those on the margins of society, the body may well be healed. ACT 3 aspires to equip leaders for unity in this mission, the mission of Christ and His Kingdom. I serve the Lord whole-heartedly to that end.
As I ask for your support, I also expect you to responsibly ask what difference any of this will really make in the end. A dear friend recently told me that people give to physical things that they can see growing. But ACT 3 will have no new buildings, no endowments and no programs to point to if we are to be truly faithful to our calling. There will only be changed lives. Doesn’t it strike you as ironic that this was the only outcome that Christ’s ministry yielded? I suggest that this must be so because it is the only outcome that matters.
Here’s how you can partner with me and the mission of ACT 3:
1. Prayer Partnership: My health has been a continual challenge, and this ministry is clearly an ambitious undertaking. Too often our intention to pray is easily forgotten or relegated to a quick bullet point at the end of a long list of requests. But we ask for so much more from our friends. Our need is for the Holy Spirit to move many to contribute powerfully through prayer to a movement that renews, quickens, convicts and changes the people of God, that UNITES all believers in a shared mission of being and making disciples, so the world will know Christ has sent us. To that end, we ask that you will commit to partner with us in real intercession for me and for the ACT 3 Ministry.
2. Financial Partnership: As you consider investing in this Kingdom work, please seek to give regularly to ACT 3. Where appropriate, ask your church to add us to their mission budget. While our personal needs are modest, travel and technology costs, and funding for an effective communications campaign and for developing strong teaching tools all require stable support. With your faithful support we can pursue our mission in 2010 and beyond.
We need your gifts now. If we are to pursue the vision God has given to us we need your support right now. You can donate online at: www.act3online.com. You can send a check to: ACT 3, P. O. Box 88216, Carol Stream, IL 60188. We also need new regular donors in 2010.
3. Informed Partnership: Read Your Church is Too Small. (In fact, pre-order it from the various online sources which discount it wonderfully.) Attend one of our Webinars. Stay personally abreast of developments in the mission of ACT 3 through the ACT 3 Weekly (e-version), Viewpoint and the blogs. Bookmark www.act3online.com and www.johnharmstrong.com.
4. Active Partnership: Bring the message of missional-ecumenism directly into your life and ministry. Encourage others to do the same. Order and distribute copies of Your Church is Too Small. Seek to open doors for forums in churches, on college and seminary campuses, and in other places where transformation can take place. The power of this mission is in its message. Help us spread this John 17 message.
ACT 3 is a renewal ministry to churches and Christian leaders. In this life-long calling, John Armstrong has committed both his life and his gifting as teacher, mentor and writer to equipping Christian leaders to unify in true Kingdom ministry. We unapologetically ask that you stand with John and ACT 3, as together we help John launch the most important writing speaking, mentoring and networking effort of his life.
In anticipation of great things,
The ACT 3 Board of Directors
"Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established" (Proverbs 16:3).