Tag: acts 29

Video on “Failure of the Missional Church”

Acts 29 Quarterly – Omaha, NE from Core Community on Vimeo.

This video is from the Acts 29 Quarterly event in Omaha, NE where I spoke on “The Failure of the Missional Church.” I explain Syncretistic Missional Ecclesiology (SME), the fusion of missional church values with institutional church structures, and how to move out of SME. We examine three things:

1) OUR PAST: How our inherited form of institutional church affects us.
2) OUR PRESENT: How we can transition away from its shortcomings.
3) OUR FUTURE: How to cultivate an intuitively missional church.

When Prayer Becomes Easy

This a guest blog by Acts 29 pastor, Robert Livingston, who pastors Source Church. Check out how they post corporate prayers and answers to prayer here.

I have never had a difficult time talking with my wife.  I think one of the first things I found attractive about her was how easy it was to talk for hours upon hours and never get bored.  And because of God’s goodness, even after almost 12 years of marriage we still spend most mornings together drinking coffee and talking.  Conversation with her is just so easy.  Talking keeps us close to each other.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes our talks are difficult as we work through struggles or bicker with each other – but we do talk.

What about talking with God?  It’s called prayer and if you ask most Christians about their prayers you will usually get a garbled, apologetic response that concludes with, “I need to work harder at making time to pray.”  For some reason talking with God is hard for most of us to do.

But there is a time when prayer becomes easy.  For example: when my wife and I lost track of our 5 year old daughter in a sea of people at Disney World late one evening; or the time we got news that a family member had been struck in a head-on collision and was barely hanging on to life.  Prayer was instinctive.  Prayer was the easiest thing in the world in the moments surrounding those events.

Genesis 4 describes the first time in the bible when people begin to pray.  A man had a son named “Enosh” which literally means “frailty”.  I suspect that his son was born premature, or undersized and in light of the violent world he was born into, his dad began to pray.  When frailty or weakness becomes obvious, prayer becomes easy.

I have one of those jobs that exposes my frailty on a regular basis – I am a church planter/pastor.  Daily I am faced with tasks and conversations that require more than my education, charm, experience, or limited money can accommodate.  I am simply outmatched, and I think God is behind it all.  The good news of God is that I can talk with Him and share these burdens and find strength.  By talking with God I find so much more than help – I find the joy of truly knowing Him.  The bad news is that I forget that or stubbornly refuse to go to Him for help.

Prayer becomes easy, enjoyable, necessary, & satisfying when we become aware of our frailty and emptiness.

BUILD: a gospel formed man

I’m honored to be speaking at the BUILD: the construction of a gospel formed man October 22-23. Register here. I’ll be speaking on Gospel Identity & Missional Community. Joining me will be all these fine men:


Main Session #1:  Jonathan Dodson, Lead Pastor of Austin City Life (Austin, TX)

Main Session #2:  Joe Thorn, Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship (Saint Charles, IL)
Main Session #3:  Dr. Bob Smart, Lead Pastor of Christ Church PCA (Normal, IL)

Music led by Stephen Miller, Worship Leader of The Journey (St. Louis, MO)


Jon Bricker, Lead Pastor // Charis Community Church // “Viewing Marriage through a Gospel Lens”
Tom Cheshire, Pastor of Discipleship // Delta Church // “Father Factor:  God the Father, Your Father, and You”
Jonathan Dodson, Lead Pastor // Austin City Life // “The Church as a Missional Community”
Kevin Galloway, Lead Pastor // Countryside Church // “Leading Your Family with the Gospel”
Ryan Huguley, Lead Pastor // Redemption Bible Church // “Gospel Movement:  Pushing Through Passivity”
David Keithley, Pastor of Youth/Family // Christ Church PCA // “Gospel Implications for Adolescent Culture”
Robert Livingston, Lead Pastor // The Source Church // “Gospel-Driven Prayer”
Jeff McCord, Pastor of Ministries // Christ Church PCA // “Reconciliation & the Gospel:  Hope for People in Conflict”
Jerry McCorkle, Executive Director // Spread Truth Ministries // “Sharing God’s Story”
Duane Otto, Pastor at Large // Ithaka Fellowship // “A Rooted Hope: The Gospel & Creation”
Joe Thorn, Lead Pastor // Redeemer Fellowship // “Practicing Our Theology”

Open But Cautious Church Planting

If we’re honest, many of us treat the Holy Spirit more like a silent partner than the third person of the

Trinity. We are so cautious of the Spirit that we eliminate him from our leadership. Instead of relying on the Holy Spirit, church planters often rely on one of two directions to plant churches: apostolic moxie or academic models and methods. When we lean on either of these, we lean away from the Spirit-led center of church leadership.

Reliance on Apostolic Moxie

Moxie is that self-starting, self-motivating quality, often present among entrepreneurs, which enables them to push through the odds of failure with a determination for success. When moxie is linked up to apostolic gifting, you get a type-A church planter. Sin results when we possess moxie without humility—a determination to plant and lead the church without leaning on the wisdom of others. The planted church will likely be unhealthy. Why? The church is treated like a task to be executed, not a people to be shepherded. It was planted in dependence on yourself not dependence on the Spirit. It’s planting by making little of the Spirit and much of yourself. Church planting takes more humility than it does moxie. We need less moxie and more Spirit.

Discernment in Planting Location

Self-reliance in planters is often expressed in a of lack discernment. Instead of asking “What is the Spirit already doing in this city, town, and village?” moxie-driven planters barrel into town with a “vision from God” and in the process burn their family, polarize their community, and disregard their city. Planters that depend on the Spirit, however, learn to listen to others, to God, and to the city.

Reliance on Academic Models

There also are planters who, instead of relying on self-determination, rely on information. They diverge from the Spirit-led center by resting on academics or personal knowledge. Those who depend on models and methods are, perhaps, more submissive to God’s call, but slowly attach their significance and success as a planter to what they know and not to God’s calling. They think to themselves: “if I learn enough then I’ll be ready to plant.”

Discernment in Mission

You have a plan to reach your city. That plan does not include the Holy Spirit; it includes your research. You pull out your strategic plan and your church planting model and methods and say: “This is what God is doing in the city.” You over-think and out-plan the Holy Spirit. What we need is fewer books and more prayers.

The Spirit Leads through (and away from) Methods

Following the Spirit does not mean we abandon methods and planning. The Apostle Paul clearly had a strategy for planting churches in urban centers, spinning his disciples off to lead and plant in rural areas.

When I arrived in Austin I was armed with a prospectus and timeline. I was also ready to protect my wife, son and baby to be in the womb. As if all that wasn’t enough change, I soon  discovered a different church planting methodology. A friend told me I was more wired for Organic Church. I had previously blown off a lot of Neil Cole’s writings because of his weak church governance and polity. As I began to read Organic Church, however, I became convinced of the value of decentralized church and its fit for urban Austin. Indie church for an indie city.

As much as I like the word “organic”, I began to realize that it was not a process but a Person that was guiding me in all of this—the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who creates and directs the church, not models (organic or traditional). The Spirit should be free to change your expression of ministry, the way you plant Christ’s church.

The Spirit Leads through Suffering

Expect the Spirit to lead you into unplanned change in order to accomplish the mission of God. For example, Stephen’s stoning led to the Eastward expansion of the Church (Acts 7; 11:19). Paul’s planting strategy was directed westward, towards Rome. If we had stuck with methods, only half the globe would have heard the gospel, but the Spirit made sure that the church expanded eastward through the martyrdom of Stephen. The blood of the martyrs made church planting a global movement. It was unplanned change, suffering. How many of us have martyrdom written into our church planting timeline? How will you respond when suffering comes? Will you ask the Spirit for direction when it comes, or will you blow through in moxie or ignore it by taking methodological detours around the God-ordained suffering?


Planting churches isn’t meant to happen by might or by power but the Spirit of the Lord (Zech 4:6). We need planters that are less pridefully cautious and more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we open ourselves up the Spirit’s leading, remarkable things can happen on the mission of Christ!

See the audio and notes from the original Acts 29 talk: Spirit-led Ecclesiology

For more on the Spirit check out Winfield Bevins booklet.