My friend David Bahnsen, a member of the ACT 3 board, hosted a lovely dinner last evening in Orange County. With all the fires and mayhem here I wondered if those who committed to the dinner would actually come. Every single confirmed person showed. About 20 of us enjoyed a great meal together and then David introduced me to his friends. I spoke for about 45 minutes, telling my story and how I came to where I am today as the president of ACT 3. I told the guests that I hoped to write more in 2008—articles, blogs and books—and that I wanted to promote ACT 3 Forums that would allow genuine Christian ecumenism to take place in public events that would foster our missional emphasis for the whole Church. I have in mind to host dialogs between Muslims and Christians, Christians East and Christians West, Emergent and Non-Emergent Christians, etc. These events would be video taped and made accessible to multitudes of people. I also want to host several smaller meetings where dialog can take place around important biblical subjects, like our upcoming ACT 3 Biblical Forum on November 1-3 with Norman Shepherd teaching on justification and the covenant. In addition I will continue my work with the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. and my adjunct teaching in apologetics and missional church at Wheaton College.
David finished the evening by explaining to our guests why we needed them to help us do this work. He said our budgetary requirements are not large yet they are often unmet until the end of each year. We make it, but often by the skin of our teeth. This is very common with missions that have budgets of less than $500,000 annually. (Ours is less sthan $250,000 annually.) It straps us day-to-day and makes it particularly hard to plan events and print material, etc.
Michael Craven, a dear friend, wrote to me this morning about his own mission, The Center for Christ and Culture in Dallas. Michael is now launching CCC as a new organization. He serves on the ACT 3 board and I also serve with him on his new board. In his first appeal for help he asked his friends to give the new work $1.00 a day to help him. I realize that if 100 readers gave ACT 3 $1.00 per day (or $30 a month) via our Web site donation feature we would change our entire operation overnight. It would free us to concentrate on our work without having to labor for new gifts, and year-end gifts, so directly. Would you become one of these faithful, $30.00 a month, donors? A small sacrifice, in this case, could make a very big difference for us.
In closing last night I cited the life and witness of William Wilberforce. In his book, A Pracatical View of Real Christianity, the great Christian statesman concluded:
Let true Christians then . . . boldly assert the cause of Christ in an age when so many, who bear the name of Christians, are ashamed of Him; and let them consider . . . performing a still more extensive service to society at large; not by busy interference in politics, in which it cannot but be confessed there is much uncertainity; but rather by that sure radical benefit of restoring the influence of Religion, and of raising the standard or morality.
Wilberforce believed, as I do, that what was needed was an improvement in our love to God and to man. Getting Christians engaged in partisan politics is easy these days. Getting them interested in true religion is another matter. True Christians, he argued, must "discharge a debt of gratitude." I agree. This has been called everything from "the debtor’s ethic" to "Christian manipulaton." It is nothing of the kind. We do have a debt and out of love we ought to discharge it as God shows us how we can specifically love him and our fellow man much more deeply and practically.
Thanks for all that you do, who support this work, to help me love God through the work of ACT 3. This is a delightful work for me and one I hope more of you will share in as God moves you to do so.