In 2007 about 40 adults planted Redeemer Fellowship with a passion and vision for being and reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ. We believed that the mission of the church is to "make disciples as disciples" through Christ-centered worship, gospel-grounded community, and a distinctively Christian presence in the city. 7 years later we have seen the Lord raise the spiritually dead, restore the wandering, and sanctify his people. Our church has grown in spiritual depth as well as in number. By the grace of God we have sent out three church planters from our congregation and have been blessed to partner with other missionaries who are not members of our church. I can honestly say Redeemer Fellowship is the work of God and his people. I did not plant this church, his people did. And we did not grow the church, Jesus did.
One of the wisest decision we made was in 2008 when we applied for membership in the Acts 29 Network. Some of you know and love Acts 29, others have a bad impression of the network, and still others haven't heard of us. What is Acts 29? The Acts 29 Network is a diverse, global, network of church-planting churches characterized by theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation.
We wanted to be a part of Acts 29 because of shared convictions and the need/desire to be among brothers and sisters who could help us live out our calling to be the people of God in St. Charles, IL. Though Redeemer Fellowship was the only A29 church in the Chicago area in 2008 we were blessed to receive solid coaching and teaching from other A29 churches in North America. Over the years our area has seen many other Acts 29 churches planted (including three from Redeemer) and we now have 10 or so established churches and church plants in just the Chicagoland area. These churches have come to be a great help and encouragement to us at Redeemer and me personally.
Globally there are over 500 Acts 29 churches. In 2013 Acts 29 churches gave over 20 million dollars to church planting (to both A29 and other kinds of church plants). Together we trained and sent out 174 planters from our churches.
Last month Jen and I joined over 500 of our Acts 29 brothers and their wives in Miami for our annual retreat. This was a refreshing time of worship, teaching, rest, and fellowship. There are a few things I noticed while at the retreat that I wanted to share with everyone.
There is Transparency
There is great transparency in the network these days. We receive budget and expenditures, clear and helpful statistics, and the leadership invites questions from the rest of the network in a town-hall style meeting that lasts a few hours. I am thankful for the candid, honest, and clear communication from our leadership.
There is Longing and Pursuit of Holiness and Humility
From the pulpit and in personal conversations we are encouraged to seek spiritual maturity (godliness), admitting that this will be the lifelong aim more than an eventual arrival. I can honestly tell you that the people I know in the network are sincere, passionate, gospel-focused men who care deeply about honoring God in lives of godliness.
There is No Celebrity Culture
Even though a few of the pastors have large platforms and are nationally/globally recognizable leaders, they are present and participating with the whole group. These leaders are not walled off, but are a real part of the network. These men are not only approachable, but they seek out opportunities to meet and fellowship with everyone else.