The ministry of ACT 3 began in 1991. Four brothers met in my living room in Carol Stream to agree on forming a new non-profit ministry that would aim to positively impact the lives of church leaders. (One of those brothers is still on our board, one is still very close to me personally but lives out-of-state in retirement. One is quite elderly and no longer serving and one is with the Lord.) The original vision grew out of a ministry that had begun in 1981 called the Whitefield Ministerial Fellowship. That ministry had been directed exclusively at pastors. I first envisioned it in 1980, as a thirty-one year old pastor who wanted to serve the many friends in the pastoral ministry that I had made over the previous several years while I was pastoring in Wheaton. I made friends easily and saw a way to encourage and serve my growing list of friends in the ministry. It really was that simple. I led a monthly Whitefield Fellowship (except in the summer months) concurrently with my pastoral labors in a Baptist church that I had served as pastor since April, 1976. By early 1992 I realized that this new ministry drew me more strongly in this direction than my pastoral ministry did in Wheaton so I walked away from pastoring in order to devote all my energy and effort to this growing vision and work. When we incorporated the ministry in 1991 I actually did not see this as a first step toward a new full-time mission that I would lead. (It is often odd how these things unfold in our lives. We take one step and then we take another when we see it but we never saw it coming at all.)
When we began the ministry of ACT 3 it was called Reformation & Revival Ministries at first. This was because of our twin focus upon reforming and renewing. We later changed the name to ACT 3 (2006) because we felt these two terms were not clearly understood nor friendly to our growing ecumenical vision. We were often required to define what we did, and did not, mean by both of those words. With the name ACT 3 we could explain ourselves with an acronym and then the fuller explanation would grow out of first-hand experience with the mission. We have never once regretted this change.
When we began back in 1991 the singular focus at the time was to publish a quarterly journal for Christian leaders. This journal ranged from 200-275 pages, thus around 1,000 pages per year. We published that quarterly journal for fifteen-plus years. It finally went out of print in early 2007 for the same reason that many such journals went out of print: (1) Our rising costs and the continual loss of money had drained us. (2) The time and the effort to produce it overwhelmed us by making it much more than one or two people could handle. (3) Finally, the impact of the Internet on print publications took a toll on our subscriptions and readership.
I have almost never mentioned this, and I am not exactly sure why, but all the content from all of these journals is still available and it is free. A brother in the UK, Rob Bradshaw, has devoted himself to making theological content available via a web site. I gave Rob the right to put every single issue of the journal online several years ago. You can access this material easily and without any charge. I hope some of you will find the articles, book reviews, and a host of practical resources, through this link. I hope that it will become a new treasure of practical theology for your growth in God’s grace. Personally, I am amazed to ponder all the work that went into directing, editing, writing and publishing this journal when almost the entire effort was carried out by Anita and me personally. We had several people help us with copy editing over the years but the major share of this work was done by the two of us. It was a labor of love but I have no regrets about giving it up when we did. It was time to let this part of our vision go. I did shed more than a few tears when it came to an end. I still believe there are some real treasures to be found in these back issues. See for yourself.