The Mission of ACT3
ACT3 Network began in 1991 under the leadership of its founder and president, Dr. John H. Armstrong. ACT3 has served thousands of churches, missions and leaders for twenty years as John has taught and developed leaders in the US and abroad.
ACT3 Network now exists “to empower leaders and churches for unity in Christ’s mission.” This means that we have three core convictions about Christ’s mission. First, Jesus has given us a “new commandment . . . love one another” (John 13:34-35). Second, Jesus has prayed that we become “one” (John 17:20-23). Third, Jesus has revealed that we are to go (as his people not just privately) into the world as people “sent” people as the Father sent the Son into the world (John 20:21). These three convictions form the narrative of mission. We love so that we experience the unity of the Spirit. Through this love we go into the world as the Father’s sent ones.
Our fundamental premise is that the church in America does not understand spiritual intimacy with the triune God, reconciled life together in visible unity, and being Christ’s mission. Most Christians believe that mission is an activity the church does as one of its programs. But mission is who the church is, not what it does. We must be Christ’s mission before we can do his mission. We have settled for church programs that are designed to do mission “inside our congregations” and missed being Christ’s mission outside the church where we work and live. Simply put, the church does not know how to follow Jesus from the congregation back into the world. We are inviting the world to come to us; to our services, programs, dinners and events. But the issue is not their coming. It is our going. If Jesus says that we are “the salt of the earth” then how do we get the salt of our shared faith out of the saltshaker? Unless the leaders of the church grasp this vision and then equip God’s people they will not go. History proves this point. Christians need a whole new vision of the world and how to live in a post-Christendom culture. This cultural moment is a time of “exile” much like what we read about in Jeremiah 29. We can no longer afford to live as if the church was central to the culture. We are losing significant numbers of our own young adults (20s and 30s) every single day. But there is true hope to be found in these losses if we learn how to respond missionally to this decline. ACT3 Network exists to help Christian leaders change our personal and corporate way of thinking about spiritual growth connected with the unity of Jesus in mission (cf. John 17:20-24). We show people how to live for Jesus in this unique moment of mass, fast-paced change by teaching, mentoring and supporting what we call missional-ecumenism.
In the coming years ACT3 Network will accomplish this mission, by God’s grace, through several means. First, we will produce and publish resources to help people understand core dynamics about church and mission. Second, we will incarnate Christ’s love in human relationships with leaders in order to help them understand and practice mission more effectively.
Finally, we will lead ACT3 Cohort groups of 10-20 Christian leaders in cities. The ancient word Cohort was used to name one of the ten divisions in a Roman legion. Over time the word came to mean a dedicated group of companions or associates. Our cohort groups will be made up of pastors, educators, missionaries and lay leaders who commit themselves to a nine-month intensive experience that involves learning by doing, not simply by listening. Our future will be intimately linked with this discipleship method because we believe one God-called leader who is properly trained can touch multitudes. Many leaders trained will touch even more. Simply put, this is a process of multiplication, not addition. It is with this type of thinking that we have created the cohort model. You learn by being together with Jesus and his called people, not simply by personal study and private time. We must train both minds and hearts.
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