[of empower] originated in the civil rights movement, which sought political empowerment
for its followers. The word was then taken up by the women’s movement, and its appeal has not flagged.” Now the word empower
has been adopted by conservatives as well as radical social reformers. It has even migrated out of the political arena into other fields, including the idea of empowering leadership in the church. Though I recognize the danger of this being a buzzword I also think it is a dynamic and modern expression
that says more than the word equip, which sounds like a synonym for “teach” to many modern hearers. ACT3 does teach but we do much, much more. We work alongside of leaders and churches consulting, advising, serving and helping. All of this is part of empowering.
Finally, we made one more subtle, but also very important addition to our mission statement. We now say that “we empower leaders and churches for unity in Christ’s mission.” Previously, we did not have the word “churches” and now we do. This actually clarifies our primary focus – to bring about renewal in the visible church in America and beyond. We believe in the church. When more and more Christians are dropping out of the church, often for compelling and heart-rending reasons, we still believe in the church because the church belongs to Christ, whether or not the form or appearance meets with our approval or not. We agree that the church is deeply impacted by its own captivity to culture in America. But faithful presence (a rich term coined by sociologist James Davison Hunter) requires us to never write off the church since it belongs to Christ. This is true even in forms of the church that are compromised and weak. We do not believe the way forward (in most instances) is to create new schisms or to deny past divisions. We need to honestly face the sectarian impulse of much of Western Christianity and then respond to it with a compelling vision of unity in Christ’s mission, not our ideology. This is at the very heart of the ACT3 story and vision. It displeases on the right and the left, ideologically, but it is our vision and we intend to empower people to grasp it and live it out.
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