ACT3 Network actually began in 1981 when God led John H. Armstrong, then a 32-year old pastor in Wheaton, Illinois, to launch a monthly gathering for church leaders. This meeting drew leaders from across a wide spectrum of churches and backgrounds. As this informal fellowship grew, eventually leading to four Chicago area groups, a social and spiritual network was the result. John regularly found himself interacting with leaders over a wide variety of subjects. He then began to serve other congregations as a consultant and spiritual advisor. In 1991 ACT3 Network was formally organized, with four board members, to work and pray for reformation and revival. In 1992 John was commissioned by the elders of his local congregation to direct this new mission. Having planted one church, and replanted another, John left twenty years of pastoral service on May 1, 1992, and has served ACT3 Network since.
In the decade of the 1990s this ministry grew dramatically. An office was opened and several staff were added. A writing and conference ministry developed and spread. Deep inside of John’s heart John 17:20-24 had profoundly gripped him with a vision that he could not let go of even through he tried. (This story is told in his book, Your Church is To Small, Zondervan, 2010). John believed the way to new reformation and deep renewal in our generation was through doing Christ’s mission in relational unity. Eventually he called this dynamic reality missional-ecumenism, by which he meant partnering together in Christ’s mission in deeply personal relationships that lead to new obedience to our Lord’s command in John 13:34-35: “You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
By 2001, a mission which had informally begun in 1981, was significantly re-calibrated. A strong, clear emphasis was placed upon renewal through networking churches and leaders in a Spirit-given vision of unity based upon the teaching of our Lord in John 13-17. The name ACT3, which is an acronym for Advancing the Christian Tradition in the Third Millennium, was adopted in 2006.
Today the ACT3 Network empowers leaders and churches to engage in missional partnerships within the whole body of Christ. In a age when a new generation is desperately seeking for new expressions of Christian unity we believe this unity is found in truly knowing Christ, who is “the way, the truth and the life.” Praying and working for this kind of unity is the unique investment that God has entrusted to the ACT3 Network.
In June of 2017 the board of ACT3 decided to transform this mission into an intentional covenant community for missional-ecumenism. To this end ACT3 will become The Initiative in 2018. Our inaugural gathering will take place during the days of June 24-28, 2018. This meeting will be at Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin. Information about The Initiative, as well as information about this first meeting, is available at www.theinitiative.org.