Acts 29 was founded in 1998 by Mark Driscoll and David Nicholas. Beginning September 17, 2007 with the Raleigh Boot Camp, Acts 29 began using Great Commission Ministries as its mission agency for fundraising and leadership training. Matt Chandler was appointed as the president of Acts 29 Network in 2012. Chandler announced plans to keep the network's objectives intact while reorganizing to address the global scope of the organization. He also, at the time, intended to keep Driscoll on the Board of Directors. The offices and leadership of Acts 29 moved from Mars Hill Church in Seattle to The Village Church in Texas in March 2012.
On August 2014, Acts 29 removed Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from its membership. According to the Acts 29 Board, this was due to "the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him."
As of July 10, 2016, Acts 29's board consisted of these members: Matt Chandler | Board Member and President | Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, TX
Steve Timmis | Board Member & Executive Director | Lead Pastor at The Crowded House in Sheffield, England
Brian Howard | Board Member and Board Chair
Doug Logan | Board Member and Board Vice Chair | Lead Pastor at Epiphany Fellowship of Camden in Camden, NJ
Bruce Wesley | Board Member and Board Secretary | Lead Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in League City, TX
Brian Walck | Board Member and Board Treasurer
Dwayne Bond | Board Member | Lead Pastor at Wellspring Church in Charlotte, NC
Gareth Paul | Board Member
Ryan Kwon | Board Member | Lead Pastor at Resonate Church in Fremont, CA
On 13 April 2016, Darrin Patrick was removed from his position at The Journey for misconduct and was required to step down from all external leadership positions. He is no longer listed as a member of the Acts 29 Board of Directors.
Acts 29 is a diverse, global family of church planting churches that originated in North America and now has representation in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Latin and South America, Africa, and Asia.
Acts 29 has been described as part of the emerging church. However Darrin Patrick, Former Vice President of Acts 29 has pointed out "bad things" in the emerging church such as "the fascination with deconstructing almost everything while building almost nothing," and "ugly things" such as "conversing about God's Word [the Bible] to the neglect of obeying it, deviating from historical orthodoxy and the lack of clarity regarding issues of theology and sexuality."
In 2012, Matt Chandler became the President of Acts 29 and outlined four values for the future of Acts 29. As he states, "these aren’t complex and seem to me to be no-brainers, even though it might take years before some of them are a reality. I will be and am currently putting my efforts and influence to work in these directions."
- Plant Churches that Plant Churches
- Be Known for Holiness and Humility
- Become a Radically Diverse Crowd
- Be Serious about Evangelism and Conversions
The full brief on "The Four Values For Acts 29" can be found on their website.
In August 2016, Acts 29 included 600 churches on six continents The stated mission of Acts 29 is to band together churches, which, for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, plant new churches and replant dead and dying churches around the world. Acts 29 makes no claim to be a model or a style, stating "[W]e have churches with live preaching and others with video-delivered sermons. We have independent church plants, replants, and existing churches that want to focus on planting new churches out of their existing congregations. Simply, we seek to be a movement of church-planting churches." A number of Acts 29 churches belong to a denomination as well. For example, Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, North Carolina is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America, while The Village Church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Acts 29 claims to stand in the tradition of historic evangelical confessionalism, stating, "while we believe it is vital that the Elders of each of our churches determine where they stand on doctrines of second importance, we do wish to make known our convictions on the following five theologically-driven core values."
- Gospel centrality in all of life.
- The sovereignty of God in saving sinners.
- The empowering presence of the Holy Spirit for all of life and ministry.
- The fundamental moral and spiritual equality of male and female and to men as responsible servant-leaders in the home and church.
- The local church as the primary means by which God chooses to establish his kingdom on earth.
The full definition of the distinctives can be found here.
In early 2014, Acts 29 member Sam Storms gave a lecture on the Acts 29's Distinctives in which he explains why they are important. In it he states [timestamp (3:32)], "We have no desire to be different for being different sake. That's not the purpose of these distinctives. We don't want to just stand out in a crowd and take a position that is contrary to others. We have no impulse or instinct to do that in Acts 29. We really do believe that these distinctives make a difference in how we live and how we minister... I'm not suggesting for a moment that in calling them 'distinctives' that other Christians don't believe them. I hope and pray that most do. We're not unique in our emphasis on these points, but we do emphasize them — that's the point! We unite around them, we strive for them... If you're wondering, 'Who are these people? What do they stand for? What matters to them?' The answer is found in these distinctives."
Additionally, Acts 29 holds to the Lausanne Covenant Statement of Faith.
Steve Lemke of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary cited interactions with Acts 29 instead of local Baptist churches on the part of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro, Kentucky as a reason they were denied acceptance into the Daviess–McLean Baptist Association, saying, "those who want to be accepted should make themselves acceptable." Roger Moran, a former member of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee and head of the Missouri Baptist Layman’s Association has criticized Acts 29 on matters of doctrine, vulgarity and drinking. In his view, Acts 29 and other emerging church movements have become a "dangerous and deceptive infiltration of Baptist life". Christian Piatt of the Huffington Post has criticized the network for disguising the traditional evangelical agenda of conformity and conversion behind the veneer of the new missional church movement. He also criticizes the emphasis on male leadership.
Acts 29 churches have faced criticism for their handling of church discipline issues. Matt Chandler's church in Dallas offered a general apology after a female member was disciplined for annulling her to marriage to a man who admitted to viewing child pornography. No elders or leaders were removed from their office but the church said in an email the action taken against the woman was "unbefitting" of a church leader.
Mark Driscoll's church in Seattle - the original Acts 29 church, now defunct - faced a federal racketeering lawsuit from former members. That lawsuit was dismissed after the plaintiffs said they did not have the money to continue the suit. The plaintiffs’ online fundraising campaign on GoFundMe had raised $34,660 — about half of its goal. Acts 29 cut ties with Driscoll in 2014.
An Acts 29 church in Columbia, SC, Riverside Community Church, was sued in Richland County circuit court after its leadership ex-communicated a member for not allowing the pastor to talk to the member's professional therapist.