A Late Follow-Up on Acts 29 Boot Camp

I guess now is as good a time as any to write up my thoughts on the Acts 29 Boot Camp I attended on March 10, 2011. I've been slightly hesitant for two reasons. One, I'm sure some of the Acts 29 Network and some of my reformed friends will react with, "Why on earth would you attend?". Two, I'm sure some of my fellow Methodists will react with, "Why on earth would you attend?". Let me answer that second. The first thing I want to say is that I absolutely did not attend with the idea that I would write an undercover story to tell anyone what really goes on. If there is a "really" I don't know what it is and I probably wouldn't tell you about it - I'd talk to the men in charge because airing laundry isn't my thing.

So, why did I go? I'm not called to church planting and I've not the skills or qualifications for church planting. I love church planters and support them whole-heartedly. I want to help and support church planters as much as I can. I watch church planters pour a lot into ministry and I hurt with them if those plants shut down. As a United Methodist, I haven't seen a lot of church plants make it to viability and I'd like to see that change. I've been talking to a seminary buddy of mine about developing a support network for our tradition and so when an opportunity arose for me to observe and learn from a network that has a viability percentage that's directly opposite of ours, I couldn't wait to attend. I emailed them about the viability of church plants and they graciously replied to me. You want to know what it is? "98.4%. I'd have to double check, but for some reason I thought it was 3 years." That's cut and pasted right out of the email I received back. Wow. If you aren't floored by that, you aren't paying attention. I wanted to learn something from them because they clearly have a lot to teach.

What did I learn?

Did they flood attendees with tips and tricks about marketing and miracles? Nope.

The entire first day (the only day I attended) was about the church planter's character. I say this with all the loving sarcasm I can muster - Gee, what a concept. (My sarcastic contempt is for every book, blog, and article I've read that skips right over that component as though it's foundational and doesn't need to be covered.)

There was some righteous anger in some of the talks. I felt like that anger was from a place of deep hurt and sorrow because of some ministry failures within the network that resulted from a lack of character focus. As Scott Thomas, Acts 29 Network President, said, "Some of you are hiding your sins right now." Sam Storms, Matt Carter, and Bruce Wesley also spoke and didn't hold anything back, either. I reflected and prayed because even though I'm not planting a church, I could as easily fail for a number of reasons - particularly self-idolatry.

For me, in spite of the time being terribly lonely for an outsider introvert, it was a fantastic time of prayer, reflection, rebuke, and repentance. At the end of the evening, right before he spoke, Matt Chandler came out and exhorted us to turn our attention away from ideas, tips, and tricks and toward listening to the Holy Spirit. This isn't a direct quote, but he said that if we showed up and missed out on the Holy Spirit, our time was wasted.

My time was not wasted.

If you'd like to listen to the content, it is available here.