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May 07, 2007

Comments

GL,
Given that it's an Acts 29 church, my guesses (about preaching, pastor, and congregants) are:
Preaching: expository, probably about a paragraph of text;
half-hour in length.
Pastor: mid to late 30s in age, male, a bit rough around the edges in appearance and seems to command attention. Dark hair, maybe black. Respectable even if he comes off a too 'cool' for his position.
Congregants: mostly new converts, young to mid-age; with some older evangelical burnouts looking for a more stimulating church experience; mostly single; definite presence of new urban fashion, but not pervasive.

The preaching was expositional with a lot of applications drawn from the text. It lasted about 45 minutes and used about one half of a chapter of a book they are going through.

The pastor was sharp, mid 30's and dressed like most of the congregants (casual). He was confident, understood the Scripture and came across authoritative but not cocky.

The music was a mix of hymns and songs written by the church. The music style was white urban rock (is that a category?). It was very worshipful. They didn't have a "Happy Clappy" feel to it. It was centered on Jesus.

The congregation was mixed in age but mostly young; lots of singles/college (50-50 to married. The socio-demographic was also mixed in a healthy way. There were a lot of people that were serving in many ways.

I don't know what you experienced but I experienced a God-centered, Spirit-filled, on mission, worshipful church that cares about both reaching their community and discipling their attendees.

Hmmm? Was there an abundance of codewords and a paucity of sacraments? No past, some present, and lots of future?

Imagine how unhip one feels, having to Google "Acts 29 Network." It's not like I live under a rock, either.

I'm overdue in answering the Q. Basically Barrett and Denny described what I experienced. I have heard lots of criticism in my circles (Reformed folks) of emerging churches and, to a lesser extent, Acts 29 networks churches. And guess what: few critics I've had conversation with have witnessed or participated in a worship service of these kinds of churches.

To be fair, I've done the same thing about other issues-- criticizing without actual knowledge, going on hearsay, or making too much out of a sliver of a data or documentation. The last kind is slippery-- the critic has actual data or documentation to "prove" his point, but without proper context and mitigating data/documentation paints a portrait that is-- as a whole-- inaccurate. I've done this and probably will do it unwittingly in the future in the midst of a debate. Ideally when people point this out I'll repent and re-work my analysis of the issue in question.

So,back to my quiz about my Acts 29 church experience, it's good to see that what I thought might happen-- critics speculating on inappropriate worship forms-- did not happen. The worship service I attended was a worship service. The Lord was exalted in His Word, in the preaching, in testimony and in song. (The sacraments were not enacted so I can't speak to that.)

The sermon was biblical of the topical sort, though the pastor did exposit briefly several texts that elucidated the topic (The Greatness of God). Overall I believe the Lord was honored by His people in this service of worship.

Glenn - we'd love to have you write an article about your experience for the Reformed News! We want to cover the broader "reformed" world and you represent a link between the older denominations and this encouraging new church planting network. Just let us know - refnews@gmail.com

I don't think Acts 29 churches consider themselves "emerging." See this link:

http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/seven-misrepresentations-of-acts-29/

Also, Mark Driscoll, the Acts 29 Network founder, has been quite critical of emerging churches. "In the mid-1990s I was part of what is now known as the Emerging Church and spent some time traveling the country to speak on the emerging church in the emerging culture on a team put together by Leadership Network called the Young Leader Network. But, I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me. Examples include referring to God as a chick, questioning God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell which is one hell of a mistake."
--Taken from his blog, http://theresurgence.com/?q=node/5

So I'm not sure they should be lumped together.

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