Bridgeway is an independent, non-denominational church that is affiliated with Acts 29, a trans-denominational peer to peer network of missional church planting churches.
The purpose of Acts 29 is to assist called and qualified pastors as they pursue their church planting dreams through assessment, coaching, training, funding, and friendship by connecting them with like minded people. Acts 29 is not a model or a style. The movement has a variety of expressions of local church life: classical church plants with a preacher and a congregation, video-delivered sermons, missional community models, replants, and existing churches that have partnered with the movement. Acts 29 seeks to be a movement of church-planting networks—that is, decentralized and empowered networks to lead men of all different types of churches in order to make disciples of all people groups.
There are 28 chapters in the book of Acts. The name Acts 29 reflects the conviction that God is still at work through his Spirit to continue what was begun in the first century. We are simply seeking to follow in the pattern of Spirit-led and Scripture-directed church planting and evangelistic ministry that began in Acts and has continued in every age through God’s faithful servants.
As a peer to peer network, there is no mandated philosophy of ministry in Acts 29. However, our missional perspective flows out of a very high view of Scripture on the one hand, and a total commitment to engage contemporary culture with the gospel on the other hand, using every effective means of communication. When it comes to the gospel we do not innovate. When it comes to culture, however, we seek continually to be innovative in our means of communication.
Bridgeway has chosen to affiliate with Acts 29 in order to more effectively fulfill our calling to make disciples by planting church planting churches. Affiliation with Acts 29 provides us with the incentive and encouragement to be more deliberate and focused in the fulfillment of this goal. The commitment of Acts 29 to church planting is made clear in the following statement by the former president of Acts 29, Scott Thomas:
“We believe church planting is the best way to take the gospel to the community it desires to serve. We believe new churches are the best means for Spirit-led followers of Jesus to make disciples of all people groups (Matthew28:19-20). We believe church planting is the central process of evangelism in the book of Acts, but also that doing so can spread the gospel to every people or group, large or small, in every corner of the world. Throughout the book of Acts we read narratives of the gospel being planted in city after city. The book ends abruptly in Acts 28. Our mission with Acts 29 therefore is to carry on the discipleship making, church planting in the culture where God has sovereignly placed us (Acts 17:26-27).”
Affiliation with Acts 29 enables Bridgeway to partner more effectively with other churches that share our spiritual values and theological convictions. It also provides us with the benefit of cooperating with others who have a proven track record in church planting rather than being altogether isolated and on our own. There is wisdom, we believe, in partnering with others and drawing from their experience and maturity.
Partnering with Acts 29 also makes possible the joy and benefit of joining hand and heart with other believers in the work of the kingdom rather than continuing to exist in complete independence from other believers. The knowledge that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, joined with thousands of others in the spread of the gospel, the planting of gospel-centered churches, and the pursuit of God’s glory, serves as a great encouragement to our people.
By affiliating with Acts 29 we experience the great advantage of being exposed regularly to the insights and constructive counsel of others in the body of Christ who may have knowledge and experience in areas where we are deficient. The good thing about Acts 29 is that it enables us to profit from this without committing Bridgeway to any legal, financial, or moral obligation outside of our own body. We glean from the best in the evangelical world without any governmental or authoritative involvement by them in the affairs of Bridgeway.
The assessment process by which Acts 29 church planters are selected is rigorous and biblical. This brings us the assurance that all our financial giving to spread the gospel through church planting will be to churches and individuals in whom we have confidence that they are theologically sound and adequately prepared for ministry. Scott Thomas notes:
“Our church planters are assessed on the basis of their qualification as elders, according to Scripture and their character as examined in an extensive review of their life and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16). This includes a thorough examination of a man’s leadership in his home. A man’s family is his first congregation and his wife and children are his first disciples. We are looking for men who have been transformed by the gospel and are captured by the grace of Jesus and are following His mission to make disciples.”
By affiliating with Acts 29 we are able to direct young men from our own congregation into training programs and other forms of preparation for ministry that will better equip them for church planting. History has demonstrated that one of the primary struggles of new church plants is obtaining adequate funding. There is simply no way to escape the need for money to do what is necessary to successfully plant a church. Thus, anyone whom we release to plant, who chooses to do so through the Acts 29 network, will immediately be potential recipients of financial assistance from a wide range of other churches.
Affiliation provides a means by which we can connect with the broader body of Christ. As an independent, non-denominational church we were always in jeopardy of becoming isolated and inbred in such a way that we lost touch with and failed to enjoy the blessings of community with those operating in other arenas of Christian ministry.
It’s important to know what affiliation with Acts 29 does not mean for Bridgeway. It does not mean, for example, that those we send out as church planters must plant an Acts 29 church. They may well choose to plant independently or to affiliate with another body of believers.
Affiliation with Acts 29 does not mean that Bridgeway cannot devote funding to churches or ministries other than those involved with Acts 29. We remain entirely free to direct our giving to any individual or church as the Lord should lead. Here is how Scott Thomas addressed this issue:
“Every local church’s eldership assumes responsibility for their multiplying of men and churches. They direct funds to whomever they determine best expresses this advancement of the gospel in their context. Some Acts 29 churches direct their funds through their denominational affiliation and others choose their funding independently. We support whatever method they choose as long as they are multiplying churches.”
Affiliation with Acts 29 does not mean we are in any way whatsoever under the governmental oversight or under the spiritual authority of a body other than the Board of Elders of Bridgeway. Acts 29 will never involve itself in our affairs or decision making process. We remain entirely autonomous when it comes to the government and direction of our body.
Affiliation with Acts 29 does not require that Bridgeway send any money to a central office or to any individual. However, like most Acts 29 churches we voluntarily contribute 1% of our income to the Foundation Fund that serves to support special needs of pastors and churches in crisis. Our primary financial commitment is to the support of Acts 29 church plants as we feel led by God. We can still support whatever churches or individuals or ministries that may not be affiliated with Acts 29.
For more information about Acts 29 we encourage you to visit the website at www.acts29network.org.