This week I headed up to London for a day at the Acts 29 Western Europe conference: Inclusive Exclusivism. I was a bit nervous truth be told. It’s not an unfamiliar crowd but a little different. I was hoping no one would ask me what church I was from – confessing to being an Anglican didn’t seem right. What should I wear? I don’t own any check shirts or skinny jeans (they’re just tight in the wrong places) and I don’t have a tattoo.
I guess I was expecting everyone to be a Mark Driscoll clone. Expecting everyone to be young, restless and reformed… So I was pleasantly surprised… yes there were plenty of ‘missional’ stereotypes there (lots of iPads!) but it was warm, welcoming and gospel-centred.
Steve Timmis (Acts29WE director) describes it as…
“A distinctively gospel-centred network planting distinctively gospel-centred churches.”
This felt true. It didn’t feel like they were trying to clone Mars Hill in the UK. But were seeking to plant indigenous, culturally appropriate churches. Neither was there a big push for reformed / complementarian / charismatic or any other brand of theology. I wouldn’t have minded if there was and we’re aware of the theological convictions of Acts29, which on the whole I share. It was simply Gospel-Centred.
There wasn’t a denominational bias, and no pressing theological agenda, simply a desire to reach people where they are with the gospel.
I was around for two main talks JD Greear speaking on the uniqueness of Christ and Steve Timmis on ‘The Gospel’ both from Romans. Both were biblical, passionate and practical. Also was great to hear music from Soujourn and Mike Cosper speaking on Christ-like ‘stories’ in the arts.
Timmis made a particularly helpful point, as it seems ‘missional’ has become it’s own Christian sub-culture there is a need to rediscover words like ‘evangelism’, which is surely what being missional comes down to!
For those looking to be involved in church planting or simply looking to go to a good quality, heart-warming conference I’d highly recommend what’s going on at Acts29WE! It’s a great place to come and hear some different voices too – if I was to critique another conference I went to recently it would be that the voices were too similar (but I won’t do that!).
On a side note… a special thanks to Reuben Hunter who paid for my ticket. Probably the most generous church planter I know.