The Pathway

Official News Journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention

 

 

Alcohol, Acts 29 and the Missouri Baptist Convention

“Straw Man”?

 

The following is a quote from a Baptist Press interview with newly elected MBC president Gerald Davidson just shortly after his election in October 2007.  In regard to alcohol, the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and the Missouri Baptist Convention, Davidson states: 

One of the issues that [the Project 1000 leaders] raised this year was the alcohol issue. They talked about an Acts 29 [network of church planters], and I don't know anything about the Acts 29 group, but people say that they are basically conservative but they believe in the use of alcohol. And truthfully, I know churches all over the state of Missouri but I don't know any churches that condone the use of alcohol. I don't know any pastors that condone the use of alcohol. I don't know any pastors or church staff members that drink. Now, there may be -- I'm sure probably there are -- but I don't know who they are.

But that's sort of a straw man, I think, for the Project 1000 or Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association to try to rally people around. It was basically a straw man because that's not a problem in Missouri.   

This BP article can be viewed here:  http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=26751

But here are a few of the facts: 

 

1.      Alcohol and Acts 29 became an issue in the MBC when the Executive Board loaned a new church plant in St. Louis, called The Journey, $200,000 in December 2005 without being informed of the churches’ bar-room “ministry.” 

 

2.      Alcohol was an issue when MBC president Ralph Sawyer, at the July 2006 Executive Board meeting, requested that the church plant workgroup of the Executive Board look into the growing concerns regarding Acts 29/The Journey and alcohol.  But nothing was found until the December 2006 Executive Board meeting, one year after the loan was made, even though the Journey’s bar-room “ministry” was in operation for months prior to the $200,000 loan. 

 

3.      The issue of alcohol, Acts 29 and the emerging church were becoming a greater concern among some as they realized  that the $200,000 loan to the Journey was “to help facilitate a center for church planting” in St. Louis. (http://www.mbcpathway.com/article32441.htm)  Then, when our former Executive Director hailed the Journey as a church plant model and it’s pastor, Darrin Patrick, as a modern-day Caleb in his address to the messengers at the 2006 MBC annual meeting, it was becoming increasingly clear for many where Missouri Baptists were being led. 

 

4.      By late 2006, alcohol and Acts 29 had become a significant issue.  The facts about Acts 29, the Journey and it’s bar-room outreach “ministry” had begun to surface.  The fact that the Journey’s bar-room meeting was kept quiet for a full year after the $200,000 loan is amazing.  But it wasn’t until the December 2006 Executive Board meeting that the alcohol/bar-room meeting issues began to surface publicly.  It was then that Baptist Press broke the story on a national level.  (See the Baptist Press articles below)  About a month later, the Journey was featured on the front page of the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch in an article titled “Beer and the Bible.”  The Journey was then featured on national television on the Today Show and then appeared on MSNBC. 

 

5.      Throughout 2007, alcohol became an even stronger issue as the facts about Acts 29 president Mark Driscoll began to surface.  He states in his book, “Radical Reformission,” in a chapter titled, “The Sin of Light Beer,” that as he was studying the Scriptures for a sermon on Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine,” that his “Bible study convicted me of my sin of abstinence from alcohol.”  He then began to drink alcohol that day “in repentance.”  (pg. 145)  Driscoll further states, speaking of Jesus, that “God has come to earth, and he kicks things off as a bartender.” (pg. 30) 

 

6.      Now, we have discovered that there are more Acts 29 churches in Missouri than any other state in the U.S., except for the state of Washington, home of Acts 29 president Mark Driscoll.  But the significance of Acts 29 in Missouri, is that all but one of the 11 Acts 29 churches are affiliated with the MBC or their local association.  (The names of two Acts 29 churches in Missouri were removed from the Acts 29 website in mid to late 2007.  Currently, there are nine Acts 29 churches listed on their website which can be viewed here:  www.acts29network.org/all-churches/.  The Two churches that no longer appear on the Acts 29 website are:  Ron Cathcart’s 2 Rivers Church and Fellowship in O’Fallon.)  

 

7.      We have now also discovered that four of the 11 Acts 29 churches in Missouri hold bar-room-type meeting where alcohol consumption is viewed as acceptable.  They are:  The Journey (Theology at the Bottleworks); The Refuge (Theology on Main); Karis Church (Theology at the Forge); and Mystery Church (Theology on Tap).  Only The Mystery Church is not officially affiliated with the MBC or a local association.   

 

8.      Should Missouri Baptists not be concerned that there is such strong support for Acts 29 among the “Save Our Convention” (SOC) leaders, especially considering they swept the elections in 2007?  (see below) 

 

9.      Should Missouri Baptists not be concerned that at the 2007 annual meeting of the MBC, 42% of the messengers attending that convention voted against a resolution opposing alcohol? http://www.mbcpathway.com/article103443c596903.htm  When ballots were raised, the vote was so close that MBC president Mike Green called for a ballot vote.  The resolution was identical to the alcohol resolution passed by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006.   Click here to view the resolution.   http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1156  

 

10.  Should Missouri Baptists not be concerned that on November 3, 2007, the Post Dispatch reported that while interim executive director David Tolliver was preaching (against alcohol) at Tan-Tar-a, Missouri’s Acts 29 guys were at Darrin Patrick’s borrowed lakeside house drinking beer, watching football and talking shop? 

  

Is there any evidence for the statements above?

 

First and foremost, we need to ask the question: What is the official position of Acts 29 on Alcohol?  According to the Acts 29 website, alcohol is a “secondary issue” pertaining to “Christian liberty.”  However, the Acts 29 statement on Alcohol does says this:  “…we have no position on alcohol other than that people should have their conscience captive to the word of God, submit to the leadership of their church or denomination, and do everything for God’s glory.”  With this in mind, it needs to be stated clearly that the position of the SBC regarding alcohol has never changed.  Since 1886, Southern Baptists have passed 57 resolutions opposing the manufacturing, distribution, consumption and advertising of alcohol.  Southern Baptists have never wavered in their opposition to alcohol.    

 

            (To view the Acts 29 statement on alcohol, click here: http://www.acts29network.org/about/doctrine   At the bottom of the page, click on “Acts 29 and Alcohol Statement.”  That will take you to their statement in a PDF file.)  

 

To document the 57 resolutions against alcohol at the SBC level, click here:  http://www.sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc06/newsroom/newspage.asp?ID=58  http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=24491

           

           

 

Acts 29 “Boot Camp” & “Resurgence” Welcome Packets

 

Acts 29 holds boot camps around the country for training church planters.  Notice the open promotion of alcohol in the Acts 29 Boot Camp Welcome Packets under the section listing local restaurants.  “Resurgence” is a ministry of Mark Driscoll (http://www.theresurgence.com/md_blog) and that welcome packet is nearly identical to the Acts 29 boot camp welcome packet.  Each of the following “welcome packets” are from 2007.   

Acts 29 Boot Camp Seattle 2007

Welcome Packet

March 21-23rd, 2007

The following excerpts are taken from under the heading “Restaurants  

Bad Albert’s Tap & Grill

5100 Ballard Ave NW (98107)

206.782.9623

Lots of beer, better than typical pub-grub menus, not better atmosphere than typical one room pub. Street parking in “old” Ballard.

Open: 11am – 2:00am    Price Info: $10 & under depending if your drinking.

 

Lockspot Cafe

3005 NW 54th St. (98107)

206.789.4865     

Best fish and chips anywhere.  Next to the famous Ballard Locks.  Can be smoky, good for take-out.  Full bar available.

Open: 11am – 10:00am    Price Info: $15 & under

 

Mike’s Chili Parlor

1447 NW Ballard Ave (98107) – across from Mars Hill!

206.782.2808

Meat, beans and beer – what more can you ask for

Open: 11am – 2:00am    Price Info: $10 & under depending if your drinking.

 

Download this Boot Camp Welcome Packet here: 

http://uploads.acts29network.org/media/Welcome%20Packet_FINAL.doc

 

Acts 29 Boot Camp Releigh 2007

Welcome Packet

This Boot Camp was hosted by Vintage 21 Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Immediately following the Acts 29 Boot Camp, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted the Convergent Conference, which included Acts 29 president Mark Driscoll and former Acts 29 board member Ed Stetzer (who then worked for NAMB but now works for Lifeway Research.) 

Excerpts taken from under the heading “Restaurants   

The Raleigh Times

A favorite hangout of Vintage21 staff, this restaurant got it’s name from the old newpaper that once occupied the space.  Good food and great beer selection. 

Phone: (919) 833-0999

Directions:  Take a left out of the front door of Vintage21, and turn left again onto Hargett Street.  Walk .4 miles, it’s on the right after you cross Fayetteville Street, 14 E. Hargett Street.  (.4 mile walk)

Tir Na Nog Irish Pub & Restaurant

Like most Irish Pubs, this place is laid-back.  Good beer, decent food, fun atmosphere.  Good place to laugh loud and relax in a large group. 

Directions:  Take a left out of the front door of Vintage21, and turn left on Hargett Street.  Go .5 miles and turn right on Blount Street.  Tir Na Nog will be on your right, 218 S. Blount Street.  (.5 mile walk)

Phone:  (919) 833-7795      

 

Hibernian Restaurant & Irish Pub

Good beer and food.  Not good for large groups, but has decent-sized booths and several rooms to choose from. 

Phone:  (919)833-2255

Directions:  Take a right out of the front door of Vintage21, and turn left on Morgan.  Take your first right on Glenwood, the Hibernian is .3 miles down on your left, 311 Glenwood Avenue.  (.5 mile walk)

 

518 West Italian Cafe

A bit pricey, but great food, beer and wine.  They specialize in seasonal pastas and wood fired pizzas. 

Phone:  (919) 829-2518

Directions:  Take a right out the front door of Vintage21.  Go .3 miles and take a left onto Jones Street.  It’s past the train tracks on the corner, 518 W Jones St.

 

Mitch’s Tavern

Good for large groups.  Decent-priced food, and good atmosphere.  An official Vintage21 hangout, this is where we hold “Theology on Tap”.  Also where the bar scene in Bull Durham was filmed, dubbing our fair city “Raleighwood”. 

Phone:  (919) 821-7771

Directions:  Take right out of the front door of Vintage21.  Left on Morgan, Right on Glenwood, Left on Hillsborough, 1.3 miles down on the right. 

Good Place to grab a beer: 

 

Mitch’s Tavern

The official Vintage21 Hangout

2426 Hillsborough St

Raleigh, NC  27607

(919) 821-7771

 

Raleigh Times Bar  (Downtown)

Pints aren’t cheap but pitchers are a good price.  Good for large groups. 

14 E Hargett St

Raleigh, NC 27601

(919) 833-0999

 

Hibernian Restaurant and Pub

Great Irish Pub, with a genuine Irish feel. 

311 Glenwood Ave,

Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 833-2258

Note:  This Acts 29 Boot Camp Welcome Packet is no longer available online.   

 

Resurgence

March 23 – 24th,  2007

Welcome Packet

 

Excerpts taken from under the heading “Restaurants  

 

Bad Albert’s Tap & Grill

5100 Ballard Ave NW (98107)

206.782.9623

Lots of beer, better than typical pub-grub menus, not better atmosphere than typical one

room pub. Street parking in “old” Ballard.

Open: 11am – 2:00am Price Info: $10 & under depending if your drinking.

 

Lockspot Cafe

3005 NW 54th St. (98107)

206.789.4865

Best fish and chips anywhere. Next to the famous Ballard Locks. Can be smoky, good for take-out. Full bar available.

Open: 11am – 10:00am Price Info: $15 & under

 

Mike’s Chili Parlor

1447 NW Ballard Ave (98107) – across from Mars Hill!

206.782.2808

Meat, beans and beer – what more can you ask for?

Open: 11am – 2:00am Price Info: $10 & under depending on if your drinking.

 

Barking Dog Alehouse

705 NW 70th St. (98117)

206.782.2974

Almost gourmet bar food. Burgers, sandwiches, pizza, pasta and salads A plethora of local microbrews on tap and even more Belgian imports by the bottle.

Open: 11:00AM -11:00PM Price info $10-$25 per meal.

 

 

Download this Welcome Packet here: 

http://theresurgence.com/files/images/resurgence_march_2007_welcome_packet.pdf

 

 

Baptist Press Articles dealing with the

Acts 29 Church Planting Network:

 

Mo. Baptist board forms investigating committee

Posted on Dec 15, 2006 | by Norm Miller

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=24624

(This was the first time Acts 29 was exposed in Baptist Press)

 

The following is the portion of this BP article dealing with Acts 29: 

 

During the board’s committee reports, Bill Edwards, chairman of the board’s church planting sub-committee and also pastor of Path of Life Community Church in Wright City, reported to the full board several encouraging statistics, but also noted the sub-committee discussed issues regarding churches and pastors who “personally used or promoted drinking as a part of their outreach.”

Specifically at issue was The Journey, a four-year old MBC church that had received a $200,000 loan, and whose staff regularly sponsor and lead a discussion group in the bar portion of a St. Louis micro-brewery. The meeting is called “Theology at the Bottleworks.” According to The Journey Pastor Darrin Patrick, who spoke with Baptist Press in an interview following the MBC board meeting, the discussion group is an effort to engage the local culture of young people and others.

Edwards, however, expressed concerns to all MBC board members, many of whom take issue with information appearing on The Journey’s website, where verbiage describing the “Bottleworks” meeting invites people to “Grab a brew, give your view…”

Other concerns include a website statement on the bio of Journey’s Mission Pastor Jonathan MacIntosh who writes that he enjoys drinks with his wife “at the almost secret bar beneath Brennan's in the Central West End,” and a picture associated with an essay by Patrick that shows a small group of people raising glasses of beer in an apparent toast.

“I did not know that was there, and it all will be removed immediately,” Patrick told Baptist Press, saying, “I’m embarrassed that this is still on the website.”

Patrick explained that The Journey contracts with a secular web design company to which he attributed the “grab a brew” verbiage.

“Any issues regarding alcohol and The Journey are a concern to me and do warrant my attention,” Patrick added. The Journey’s official position on alcohol is, said Patrick: “We do not personally encourage nor corporately promote the use of alcohol.

“The last thing I want to do is hurt the cause of Southern Baptists. We are on the same team, theologically,” he said. “It’s methods that the church usually fights about.

“We just want to preach the Bible and reach people for Christ. That’s what we’re about.” Since 2002, The Journey has grown from 30 people to more than 1,200 in worship.

Responding to concerns raised by Edwards, board member Kerry Messer, member of First Baptist Church in Crystal City said he was all for engaging the culture, but that when Christians do so, “We need to be seen with clarity that we are not conforming to the world, and that we are light-bearers.”

In an earlier church planting sub-committee meeting chaired by Edwards, he asked MBC Director of Church Planting Jerry Field whether The Journey is considered an MBC church plant. Field said it was not, adding that the MBC doesn’t plant churches but identifies those who do and seeks to assist them. Edwards later told Baptist Press that it wouldn’t make much difference to Missouri Baptists exactly which MBC committee was most closely associated with The Journey, but that they would still be concerned that the MBC had loaned $200,000 to a church that had alcohol-related issues attached to it.

Regarding the purpose of the loan, an article appearing in the January 3, 2006, edition of The Pathway, the official news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention, states: “In an effort to help facilitate a center for church planting, the Executive Board approved with opposition a New Work Fund loan of $200,000 for The Journey, a St. Louis church that is purchasing the former Holy Innocents Catholic Church.”

Edwards told Baptist Press that the alcohol-related issues include The Journey’s association with Acts 29, an association of emergent churches of which Patrick is vice-president, and which, according to Patrick, holds a much more liberal view of alcohol use than does The Journey.

Edwards asked Field whether The Journey was fulfilling its part of the loan agreement to contribute 10 percent of the church’s budget to MBC’s Cooperative Program. Field said no, but that The Journey and MBC officials had worked out a three-year plan for The Journey to meet that obligation.

According to the Acts 29 website, The Journey is a member of Acts 29, and Acts 29 membership requires that their churches give 10 percent of all internal tithes and offerings to Acts 29. However, the site also states Acts 29’s willingness to work out terms for churches committed financially to other organizations.

Edwards asked Field if all MBC church plants -- which are required to give 10 percent of undesignated offerings to the MBC Cooperative Program – were fulfilling their CP obligations. Field said 10 were not. Edwards then asked for a list of those churches and was told he could have it.
 

 

 

Alcohol, Acts 29 and the SBC

Posted on Mar 20, 2007 | by Norm Miller

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=25221

 

The following is an excerpt from this BP article: 

 

The pastor of an Acts 29 church in San Diego (non-SBC), for example, claims on the Internet: “Beer is one of our core values. We enjoy it and like to drink it.” Although the statement appears meant for humor, it seems to show a casualness of attitude about alcohol consumption.

Another Acts 29 church (also non-SBC) -- the Seattle-area Damascus Road Church -- sponsors a men’s poker night for which gamblers are encouraged to bring beer. The website also states: “There is just something about having food on your plate and a drink in your hand that makes fellowship that much easier. Whether the food is healthy or fattening, or the drink is coffee or beer, we desire to follow Christ's example.”

The alcohol issue goes straight to the top at Acts 29, whose president, Mark Driscoll -- who is pastor of the Seattle-area Mars Hill Church -- wrote in his book, “Radical Reformission,” that abstinence from alcohol is a sin. In a chapter titled “The Sin of Light Beer,” Driscoll explains that he came to this conclusion while preparing a sermon on the Lord’s miracle at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine.

According to information published on the church’s website, Mars Hill sponsored a New Year’s Eve party that included a champagne bar. Mars Hill’s website also advertises “beer-brewing lessons ... whenever a large group of (Mars Hill) men get together.”

Driscoll is controversial also for once having the reputation of the “cussing pastor.” However, as he recounted on his blog, he finally listened to a friend who helped him realize he was becoming known for “good theology, a bad temper, and a foul mouth,” and he repented, starting with a public apology.

Patrick’s SBC connections include the North American Mission Board. He co-chaired NAMB’s Young Leaders Task Force with Ed Stetzer, a NAMB employee who is on the board of Acts 29. The task force last met over a year ago.

 

Missouri board votes to de-fund Acts 29

Posted on Dec 14, 2007 | by Staff

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=27039

 

The following is an excerpt from this BP article: 

The Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention met Dec. 10 [2007] in part to discuss their concerns about alcohol use and alcohol-based evangelism strategies within the greater Missouri Baptist family. They concluded by taking significant action on the issue.

In an historic move members of the board voted by a nearly 3-1 margin to cut off state convention Cooperative Program support to Acts 29 Network churches/church plants in Missouri. The vote does not impact MBC churches who, on their own, are assisting Acts 29 churches.

The controversy over Acts 29 began when one church, The Journey, started holding regular discussion sessions in a bar where some participants drank alcohol. The "Theology at the Bottleworks" (the name of the bar) sessions were the focus of a handful of secular media reports, including one on NBC's "Today" show. Acts 29 is a nationwide non-denominational organization that receives funding from multiple denominations.

Another Excerpt: 

Davidson argued that only a handful of board members were informed enough about the Acts 29 Network to be able to vote on any motion that was critical of it. He said on two separate occasions that his knowledge was lacking.

Another Excerpt: 

And at the end of his report about Southwest Baptist University, President C. Pat Taylor pleaded with board members to "preach, and teach our youth, that alcohol is an evil thing" to counter what he said is "a soft attitude toward it" by non-drinking students.

 

St. Louis Post Dispatch Articles:

Beer and the Bible
It works for one growing St. Louis church. But it’s got the Missouri Baptists hopping mad. 

By TIM TOWNSEND of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Published January 28, 2007

(This article appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch)

The following is an excerpt from this Post Dispatch article: 

It was a conversation perfectly suited to the setting. Beer-stained wooden tables and the smell of hops complemented a free-flowing, spirited debate among hip young people in scruffy beards and T-shirts.

In 2007, this is church.

Theology at the Bottleworks is run by a wildly successful congregation of young St. Louisans called The Journey. The Schlafly program is part of the church’s outreach ministry. And it works.

Every month, dozens show up at the brewpub to drink beer and talk about issues ranging from racism in St. Louis to modern-art controversies to the debate about embryonic stem cell research. First-timers are invited to check out the church on Sunday, and Journey leaders say many have. Theology at the Bottleworks is just one of The Journey’s ministries, but it has helped the church grow from 30 members in late 2002 to 1,300 today.

The Rev. Darrin Patrick, The Journey’s founder and lead pastor, said its nontraditional approach is aimed at those who are not likely to attend church.

"We want to go where people are," he said. "We don’t expect them to come to us."

For nearly two years, the beer ministry has brought new members to the church. Now it’s being called unbiblical. The Journey defines itself as an interdenominational church, but it has a working relationship with the Missouri Baptist Convention. That confederation of Baptist churches is the state arm of the largest Protestant denomination in the country, the theologically and socially conservative Southern Baptist Convention.

In 2005, The Journey borrowed $200,000 from the Baptist organization to help buy and renovate a former Catholic church in St. Louis. In December, Baptist leaders began questioning the church’s methods of attracting worshippers, specifically its use of alcohol.

At last year’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, members overwhelmingly reaffirmed their traditional stance on alcohol by passing a resolution that expressed "our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing and consuming of alcoholic beverages." Baptists within the denomination who oppose such a strict view of alcohol use argue that the Southern Baptist position is based on denominational tradition, not Scripture.

The Journey is part of what sociologists of religion call the emerging church movement.

The following is another excerpt from the Post Dispatch article: 

Executive director, the Rev. David Clippard, singled out the church in front of 1,200 Baptist leaders as an ideal model. Clippard noted The Journey’s median age of 29 and its explosive growth, raining praise on Patrick.

This article is no longer available at the Post Dispatch website, but can be viewed at the Columbia Tribune website:  http://www.columbiatribune.com/2007/Mar/20070311Feat004.asp

 

 

 

Below is an excerpt from a Post Dispatch article that appeared just

after the 2007 annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention. 

Below is an excerpt of the Post Dispatch article

 

As Tolliver was speaking, another group of pastors gathered at a lake house a couple of miles away, drinking Red Stripe and Fat Tire beer, watching football and talking shop: the influence of music in their worship services, their inner-city social justice efforts, the challenge of having so many new babies
in their congregations.

The young men are part of Acts 29, a network of more than 100 emerging churches across the country that have a conservative theology but a more liberal take on some aspects of the culture than do traditional Southern Baptists. The group's focus is on starting more new churches. The Journey in south St. Louis is one such church, and there are others across the state — in St. Charles, Eureka, Hannibal, Columbia and Ozark.

Below is the full text of the above quoted article since it is no longer available online. 

Booze battle rips further at fabric of the Missouri Baptist Convention

By Tim Townsend
S
aturday, Nov. 03 2007


These days, if you're talking about the Missouri Baptist Convention, you're talking about booze. And that was the case at the group's annual meeting this week in Osage Beach.

It's been a tough year for Missouri Baptists, who number about 600,000. The group is the state arm of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

In April, the Missouri Baptist Convention fired its executive director, the Rev. David Clippard, and has yet to name a permanent replacement. It also has continued a wearying legal battle against five of its own agencies that broke away from the convention in 2000 and 2001. An internal struggle over a conservative movement that tilted the state church far to the right has bruised egos and turned friend into foe.


And, in the last year, some convention leaders have rejected a group of younger church pastors who have a view of alcohol use that contradicts the traditional Southern Baptist position of total abstinence.

The church's interim executive director, the Rev. David Tolliver, began the business meeting at the Tan-Tar-A Resort Monday night with an address that focused on reconciliation, healing and mercy. But before he got into all that, he addressed the alcohol issue.

"I understand that the Bible does not say, never says, 'Thou shalt not drink,'" said Tolliver. "It is also true to say that the Bible does not specifically refer to drinking as a sin. However, … the only Christian position in this 21st century Show-Me state environment that we live in is total abstinence!"

As Tolliver was speaking, another group of pastors gathered at a lake house a couple of miles away, drinking Red Stripe and Fat Tire beer, watching football and talking shop: the influence of music in their worship services, their inner-city social justice efforts, the challenge of having so many new babies in their congregations.

The young men are part of Acts 29, a network of more than 100 emerging churches across the country that have a conservative theology but a more liberal take on some aspects of the culture than do traditional Southern Baptists. The group's focus is on starting more new churches. The Journey in south St. Louis is one such church, and there are others across the state — in St. Charles, Eureka, Hannibal, Columbia and Ozark.

The battle over alcohol spilled into the main ballroom of the Tan-Tar-A resort earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the Rev. Rodney Albert, pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church near Columbia and a rising star among the conservative leadership of the convention, addressed the alcohol issue. Albert, a captivating preacher in the hellfire-and-brimstone tradition, had been elected to give the meeting's
prestigious Annual Sermon.  "2007 was the year Missouri Baptists became soft on alcohol abstention," he thundered to loud applause. "We must fight the alcohol fight and keep it out of
the convention."

One of those fighting hardest is Roger Moran, leader of the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association. He is credited as the architect of the convention's conservative resurgence that began a decade ago.

After Albert's sermon, the Rev. Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey, approached Moran and challenged him to a public debate about the emerging church, moderated by Tolliver, that could be broadcast on the Internet. Moran did not immediately agree to the debate but later said that he and Patrick will meet privately to iron out the details.

The use of alcohol may be one of those top-down issues in Missouri Baptist life. It seemed, over the three days of the meeting, that nearly every Baptist leader who took the microphone decried the use of alcohol.

But on Wednesday, after Moran demanded that the convention adopt a resolution called "Alcohol Use in America," which would keep those who drink alcohol from being "elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee" in the organization, a debate broke out.

Some delegates called Moran's resolution unnecessary (the state convention has already adopted 11 positions on alcohol use) and divisive. Others tearfully recounted family histories fraught with alcoholism and drug use and said another alcohol resolution wasn't just appropriate, it was crucial.

A vote of hands was too close to call, but in the end, Moran's resolution passed with 58 percent of the 863 votes cast.

Not all Moran's efforts this week were so close. Each year the convention elects four officer positions — president, two vice presidents and secretary. This year, each of the four candidates backed by Moran's ultraconservative Project 1000 — including Moran himself for vice president — lost by wide margins.

Earlier this year, the Rev. Gerald Davidson, a legendary retired pastor of First Baptist Church of Arnold, and a former president of the convention, told the Post-Dispatch that the battle between conservatives was tearing the organization apart.

"It comes down to a handful of people who call the shots and appoint the president and run the show … and that's very harmful to the convention," said Davidson in April. "Project 1000 needs to back up, loosen its grip and get out of the way. We don't need a political force controlling the convention."

After his victory was announced, the man who was elected as the convention's new president told the Post-Dispatch he hoped his year at the helm would be about healing. "It's not a position I was seeking, and in a lot of ways it's not a position I wanted," he said. "But I heard God's call, and I think we can get a lot done without all this bickering and fighting."

The Rev. Gerald Davidson began his second term as president of the Missouri Baptist Convention Wednesday.

 

Below is the link to the Point/Counterpoint on Acts 29 and the Emerging Church movement that appeared in the Pathway.  The two articles were written by Roger Moran and Dr. Mark DeVine from Midwestern Seminary: 

Moran:  http://www.mbcpathway.com/article97073c485613.htm

DeVine:  http://www.mbcpathway.com/article97070c485612.htm

 

Below is the link to the Pathway article that contains the full text of the Speech made by SBC Executive Committee member Roger Moran at the February 2007 meeting in Nashville.  The speech was made before the full SBC Executive Committee. 

http://www.mbcpathway.com/article70353.htm

Below is the full text of Moran’s speech: 

One of the most dangerous and deceptive movements to infiltrate the ranks of Southern Baptist life has been the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement.

Not since the stealth tactics of the CBF have we seen a movement operate so successfully below the radar of rank and file Southern Baptists.

Marked by their fascination with alcohol, their commitment to theological ambiguity and their embrace of religious rituals steeped in eastern mysticism, this movement has made its greatest inroads in the area of “church planting.” And we are now beginning to see the evidence of what’s to come.

In my home state, the Missouri Baptist Convention is on the brink of a near civil war – and at the heart of our struggle has been the blatant dishonesty of those who are determined that Missouri Baptists will embrace this new postmodern approach to ministry.

The most recent evidence of the clash in Missouri came on January 28th when on the front page of the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch there appeared this article, titled: “Beer and the Bible -- It works for one growing St. Louis church but its got Missouri Baptists hopping mad.”

The story is about one of our new churches in St. Louis called the Journey, which received a $200,000 loan from the Missouri Baptist Convention and has what the Post Dispatch called a “beer ministry” in a local downtown bar. Another so-called ministry is the churches’ “film night,” where secular movies are viewed and discussed – movies that are often rated “R.”

What makes this all the more significant is that the Journey was exalted by the top leadership of the Missouri Baptist Convention as a model for church planting and its pastor is hailed as a modern-day “Caleb.”

And while this may sound like a local church issue or a state convention issue – it is not. It is a critically important issue facing the entire Southern Baptist Convention. Let me explain why.

The pastor of the Journey Church is Darrin Patrick and he serves together with Ed Stetzer from the North American Mission Board as co-chair of NAMB’s Young Leaders Task Force.

Interestingly, these two men also serve together on the board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network (Patrick actually serves as vice president and Stetzer as a board member).

The president of Acts 29 is Mark Driscoll, best known by his peers as ‘Mark the cussing pastor.” Driscoll, who claims to be theologically conservative, pastors the non-denominational Mars Hill Church in Seattle Wa, where this past New Year’s Eve, his church hosted a “Red Hot Bash.” Those who attended were encouraged to dress “red hot,” and those planning to drink were advised to bring their ID’s.

I mention Driscoll because he is scheduled to appear in chapel at one of our seminaries, and one of our cherished professors from another seminary will be preaching at Driscoll’s church later this year.

These ‘young leaders’ [Patrick, Stetzer and Driscoll] are being hailed as the great church planters in America and through what they call their ‘Acts 29 boot camp’ they are training young church planters across the SBC. But the question we need to ask is: Exactly what kind of churches are they planting? Let me give you a glimpse.

The pastor of one particular Acts 29 church plant in the Northwest United States stated in an interview with the San Diego Reader.com that: ‘Beer is one of our core values. We enjoy it and like to drink it.’ The article continues with an increasingly common argument among young emergents: “We want to go where people are. We don’t expect people to come to us. In [Pacific Beach], people are at the bars, parties, and drinking beer, so this is where we go.”

But it actually gets much more serious. One of our new pro-alcohol emerging church plants in Springfield, Mo., recently offered to those making a contribution to their church a copy of a book by Brian McLaren, the undisputed leader of the far-left wing of the Emerging Church Movement. McLaren is best known for his statements calling for a 5 to 10 year ‘moratorium’ on any ‘pronouncements’ against homosexuality and his statement rejecting the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

On the website of this new church plant in Missouri, the pastor bashes the name ‘Christian’ stating that he doesn’t want to become ‘known as a bad tipper, judgmental jerk, or a nationalist warmonger.’ He concludes by stating:

By that token, I believe Jesus would be a terrible Christian. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he chose never to show up in church on Sunday, or had a beer at a frat party, or frequented a gay bookstore. And you know what the Christians would say? ‘This man doesn’t honor the Sabbath’ or ‘This man hangs out with sinners.’

In Missouri, most of our people have no idea what emerging or emergent means. But they do understand the implications of ‘CBF.’ And what I have found is that the left and right wings of the Emerging Church Movement and the left and right wings of the CBF are near mirrored images of each other.

In fact, leaders within the CBF are now saying that the emerging/emergent movement is a great fit for CBF – and the CBF is currently building relationships with the emergent movement. CBF is now developing four web pages on their website devoted to the emerging/emergent movement.

One CBF leader, a church planter from Atlanta named Jake Meyers, has noted the best way to describe the emerging church movement is ‘beer, candles and theologian Soren Kierkegaard.’ (More clearly stated: Beer; ancient and mystical rituals; and an openness to theological liberalism.

Interestingly, this CBF leader (Jake Meyers) serves on the coordinating group of Emergent Village, the far-left wing of the Emerging Church Movement where Brian McLaren serves as chairman of the board. According to Emergent Village, they have everything from a Texas Baptist pastor to a New England lesbian Episcopal priest.

Also serving on the board of Emergent Village is Chris Seay, an emerging church planter from Houston, Texas who was one of the featured speakers at the Younger Leaders Summit in Nashville, hosted by LifeWay’s Jimmy Draper in 2005 [and in 2006 was led by NAMB’s Ed Stetzer.]

And while I am certainly perplexed as to why a board member of Emergent Village was a featured speaker at our Younger Leaders Summit, I am equally concerned about the particular group of younger leaders we seem to be pursuing for leadership positions in the SBC.

For within this group of young SBC leaders are those who strongly oppose the SBC’s long standing position on alcohol; and those who now want us to move toward embracing the charismatic practice of speaking in tongues; and those who are now telling us that CBF really wasn’t that much of a problem; and those who are now calling for a ‘revolution’ to move the SBC back to what they call the “center.”

Dr. Mohler has stated that: ‘The Emergent Movement represents a significant challenge to biblical Christianity.’

And he’s absolutely right, but the greater immediate challenge may be to convince certain SBC leaders to stop lending the credibility of the SBC and its institutions to a movement that is dripping with error – and thus sending out an uncertain sound.

The seriousness of the emerging/emergent movement and the degree to which it has infiltrated the SBC warrants a full and thorough investigation. And I would argue that the investigation needs to start at the North American Mission Board, and most specifically in the area of church planting.

As we refer this motion to LifeWay, I would ask that the Executive Committee express our deep and serious concern about the emerging/emergent movement and request that LifeWay honor this request for a full and thorough investigation.”

 

Specific Acts 29 Churches and Alcohol

The Journey is an Acts 29 church in St. Louis that hosts “Theology at the Bottleworks.”  The Journey’s pastor, Darrin Patrick, is vice president of Acts 29 and was formerly co-chair of NAMB’s Young Leaders Task Force.  The Journey received a $200,000 loan from the MBC to “to help facilitate a center for church planting” in St. Louis.”   (http://www.mbcpathway.com/article32441.htm

 

Serious controversy arose when it was discovered that the Journey had a bar-room “ministry” called “Theology at the Bottleworks” held at a micro-brewery where alcohol is consumed.  The Journey has advertised its monthly meeting on the church website stating: “Grab a brew, give your view and lend an ear to others.”  The Journey would later advertise the bar-room meeting [May 2007] on its website stating: This large and lively discussion combines cold beer and hot conversation on the important topics of the day.”

 

The Journey’s website states:

Theology at the Bottleworks
In older, simpler times, a pub or "public house" was often the focal point of the community, playing a similar role to the local church, where people gathered to openly discuss significant issues of the day. Theology at the Bottleworks starts at 7pm on the third Wednesday of each month at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood (http://www.schlafly.com). Please join us for good discussion as we seek to tackle spiritual, political, and philosophical themes in an open environment.
 

The following appeared on the Journey’s website advertising the May 2007 Theology at the Bottleworks meeting: 

THEOLOGY AT BOTTLEWORKS -- WEDNESDAY, MAY 16
This large and lively discussion combines cold beer and hot conversation on the important topics of the day. This month’s topic is The American Legal System: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. We’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our legal system. Is it equitable and just? Do you get the justice you deserve, or that you can afford? Is our system as good as it gets? Grab a brew, give your view and lend an ear to others’. Free and open to anyone. For more information, e-mail midrash@journeyon.net. 7:00 p.m. MORE INFO

The Journey also hosts a “Film Night,” where secular uncut “R”-rated movies are viewed and discussed.  The Journey’s website states: 

 

Film Night
Movies form the common language of our culture; their stories unite us and often help us find meaning behind our own experiences. At Film Night we watch significant films and then have a thoughtful group discussion about their cinematic, cultural and spiritual value, and influence. 

Theology at the Bottleworks and Film Night quotes can be seen here: 

http://www.journeyon.net/art--culture/midrash/ 

 

Below is an article from Christianity Today regarding the Journey. 

http://ctlibrary.com/46516

 

The St. Louis Post Dispatch article titled “Beer and the Bible” can be viewed here at Religion News Blog: 

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/17886/beer-and-the-bible 

In regard to the Journey’s $200,000 loan in 2005 from the MBC, the Pathway reported the following:  “It is recommended that churches receiving these loans immediately give 10 percent of undesignated budget receipts to the Cooperative Program, but an exception was made so that The Journey could achieve this level in 2009. The Journey agreed to give three percent in 2006, four percent in 2007 and six percent in 2008. The Journey also received a guarantee that the first 18 months of the loan would be interest free.

However, in 2006, the Journey only gave a one-time gift of $3500 to CP, far below the 3% agreed to and in 2007, the Journey gave $0. 

The Refuge Church is an Acts 29 church in St. Charles, Missouri that hosts “Theology on Main.”  The Refuge was planted by the Journey and is made up in part of “St. Charles dwellers of the Journey.”  The pastor is Trey Herweck, an intern from the Journey.  The Refuge began meeting in the facilities of First Baptist Church of Harvester.  (David McAlpin, pastor of FBC Harvester is one of the 11 “Save Our Convention” leaders whose son, Stephen, also serves as an intern at the Journey.   http://www.journeyon.net/stephen-mcalpin/ )  This church plant launched in January 2006.  The Refuge hosts “Theology on Main” at Trailhead Brewing Company in downtown St. Charles.  The event was later moved from the brewery to Frankie Tacco’s Pizzeria.  The event is advertised on the church website stating:  “have a drink, grab a slice and share your views.” 

By January 2007, the Refuge announced that it was planning to follow the lead of its mother church by also starting “movie nights.”  By July 2007, the church calendar stated that a film would be viewed at the “St. Charles 18 Cinema – Discussion following at Trailhead [Brewing Company] on Main.” 

“Theology on Main” can be viewed here:  http://www.seekrefuge.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=87&Itemid=324

 

Karis is an Acts 29 church in Columbia, Missouri that hosts “Theology at the Forge.”  Karis Church, formerly called Grace Church, hosts “Theology at the Tavern” but later changed the location and changed the name to “Theology at the Forge.” http://theologyatthetavern.org/index.php/?page_id=2    Like many other Acts 29 churches, Karis also hosts a film night ministry called “Movie and Mindmaps.” http://moviesandmindmaps.org/index.php/?m=200708

In an article appearing in the Columbia Tribune, the paper notes that “Karis’ vision comes from Acts 29.” Titled “Tolerance and teachings,” the article quotes Karis pastor Kevin Larson regarding the issue of alcohol: “’The Bible doesn’t teach that you should abstain from alcohol,’ Larson said, adding the Baptist perspective on abstinence comes from a traditional legalistic mind-set. ‘That’s not the way we’re going to do it, ever.’"

Below is a caption that appeared in the Tribune article above a picture of the “Theology at the Forge” meeting: 

From left, Rob Gaskin, 25, Brandon Wright, 26, Brooke Danielson, 25, and Aarik Danielson, 26, listen to discussion on the pros and cons of shopping at locally owned stores versus corporations at “Theology at the Forge,” a church-sanctioned event at a local bar. The church’s tolerance of alcohol — not drunkenness — has brought criticism from the Missouri Baptist Convention, with which it has a relationship, and caused it to lose sponsorship from Hallsville Baptist Church.

As so often is the case, the Tribune article goes on to note that Pastor Larson doesn’t personally drink alcohol.  In fact, at a recent "Theology at the Forge," (a "cultural engagement" activity where current events topics are discussed in a bar-room atmosphere), “only three people drank a single beer each.”

The full article from the Columbia Tribune can be viewed here: 

http://www.columbiatribune.com/2007/Nov/20071110Feat001.asp

Karis was one of the MBC-funded church plants that lost its funding when the MBC Executive Board voted not to fund Acts 29 church plants. 

In a January 25, 2006 blog post, Larson defends his support of Acts 29.  He writes:  “...try to find a flaw in Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church.  People there (and in most Acts 29 churches) are getting way more Bible than in 98% of SBC churches across America.”   

 

Mystery Church is the fourth Acts 29 church in Missouri that hosts a “Theology on Tap” event.  However, Mystery is the only Acts 29 church in Missouri that has no official affiliation with the MBC or an MBC association.  

http://mysterychurch.com/2007/  (Go to “Theology on Tap” under “Culture.”  

 

The Resolved Church is an Acts 29 church in San Diego, California that hosts a “Theology on Tap” and film night event. 

 

Under “Theology on Tap,” the church website states: 

During the reformation era of Christianity the pub used to be the place where people would get together to drink beer and talk about God. We are attempting to carry on that tradition. Normally we meet at a local pizza and beer joint every other week on Tuesday nights. Anyone is welcome to come.

The Resolved also hosts a “film and theology night.”  “Theology on Tap” and “Film and Theology” can both be viewed at this link.  Click on “Community.”  http://theresolved.com/community.htm  

This link will take you to the “Theology on Tap” site. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=193464571

http://www.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=1084

http://www.sdreader.com/published/2005-06-23/sheep.html  (“Beer is one of our core values.”) 

The following is an excerpt from an article appearing in the San Diego Reader.com.  The article is written by Drew Goodmanson, co-pastor of another Acts 29 church in California called Kaleo Church.  Kaleo Church is the “mother church” of Resolved Church.    

"Beer is one of our core values. We enjoy it and like to drink it. Drinking is part of our culture and a great way to spend time with others," said Pastor Justin Bragg of The Resolved church. "The American church has perpetuated this separatist movement that we shouldn't mix with nonbelievers. We want to go where people are. We don't expect people to come to us. In [Pacific Beach], people are at the bars, parties, and drinking beer, so this is where we go." The Resolved church plans to have a Theology on Tap night for people to meet over a few pitchers of beer to talk about God. "We definitely hold to scripture, so we don't get drunk when we go, but we believe we need to be in the world, not of the world," said Bragg. "It's messy and I know we will make errors along the way, but our confidence is in Christ, and we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us." Pastor Duane Smets added, "We see it as being missional that we are just hanging out with other people.

 

This article can be viewed at the link below: 

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2005/jun/23/resolved-pacific-beach/

In response to the above article, The Resolved’s pastor, Duane Smets writes: 

“Yes, we like to drink beer, but no, we are not alcoholics and we don’t get drunk in order to preach better sermons or to make people think christianity is cool.” 

This quote can be viewed here:  http://www.goodmanson.com/2005-07/31/the-resolved-church-sd-reader-article-repercussions/ 

According to The Resolved pastor Duane Smets, Kaleo Church is also an Acts 29 church, whose pastor, David Fairchild, is an Acts 29 board member and an Acts 29 regional director http://www.linkedin.com/in/pastorfairchild) Kaleo is the Resolved Churches’ “mother church.” http://www.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=1084&page=7&pp=7

Kaleo’s website states: 

Duane Matthew Smets currently serves at Kaleo Church. Smets holds a Masters in Theology from Talbot School of Theology. In addition, Duane has over five years of pastoral and evangelistic experience formerly being an internationally licensed minister in the Foursquare denomination. Currently, Duane is in the process of preparing to plant a church. Read more of his musing at theresolved.

This quote can be viewed here:  http://api.monkcms.com/stats/V/A/4397/0/836/ekk_/http://www.kaleochurch.com/article/adbusters-magazine

 

1.21 Church is an Acts 29 in North Carolina that hosts a “Theology on Tap” event. 

On the 1.21 Church website it asks the question:  “You worship in a bar?”  The church website states: 

1.21 Church meets each week for corporate worship at Foothills Brewing on 4th Street. For directions, click here. We are extremely grateful for the owners of Foothills for allowing us to use their awesome restaurant to worship God. Take a minute and check out their website.

This quote can be viewed here:  http://www.121church.org/sunday.asp

According to 1.21 Church website, beer isn’t available for the Sunday morning service, but “the taps are flowing” at other services throughout the week. 

 

1.21 Church's Sunday morning services are at 9:30am at Foothills Brewing, located at 638 W. 4th Street. Foothills is closed for business during the Sunday morning worship, therefore no beer is available for the attendees at that service. However, 1.21 Church has several less formal meetings during the week when the taps are flowing. For more details go to www.121church.org.

This quote can be viewed here: http://www.121church.org/feeds/showFeed.asp?feed=121ChurchNotices.xml&name=Notices&t=t

 

Formerly called “Theology on Tap,” 1.21 Church now calls their bar-room meeting “Jesus and Beer.” 

A return to the days of the early reformers like Martin Luther, Jesus & Beer is an opportunity to talk about God, life, and spirituality over a pint in a comfortable atmosphere. Seekers, doubters, and followers are all invited to join in on these discussions. This is simply a place for people to gather and seek the truth about life and God together.

Questions are provided but feel free to bring your own topics to discuss. Come prepared to participate and to be challenged. Have a good time and drink responsibly. Help others enter the conversation and respect one another's opinions.

Jesus & Beer meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, 7:30 - 9:00 pm at
Foothills Brewing.

 

The above quote can be viewed here:  http://www.121church.org/jesusAndBeer.asp

 

The following quote announces the start of 1.21 Churches’ new gathering, “Theology on Tap,” now called “Jesus and Beer.”  It also includes their understanding of what it means to “belong” to a “church family.

 

In fact, in January, we're starting a new hang out time called "Theology on Tap" at Foothills, where we'll talk about whatever hard questions people have, while drinking a pint.

So yes, gays, lesbians, and feminists and any others are all welcome at 1.21 Church. Like we say on our
website, unlike many churches, we don't require people to believe what we believe before they can belong to our church family. But we are a church built on strong theological positions, and we try to be clear from the start what those positions are, and how they're backed by _script_ure.

(Posted by David Cole, Arts Pastor, 1.21 Church  121church.org)

 

The above quotes can be viewed here:  http://2007.ncmusic.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=0&func=view&id=35595&catid=6

 

 

 

Vintage 21is an Acts 29 church in North Carolina that hosts a “Theology on Tap” event. 

The Vintage 21 Church website states that its “Theology on Tap” event is held at Mitch’s Tavern.  The Acts 29 Boot Camp Welcome Packet (Raleigh, North Carolina) notes that Mitch’s Tavern is “The official Vintage21 Hangout.”    

 

A return to the days of Martin Luther, Theology on Tap is an opportunity to talk about God, life, and spirituality over a pint in a comfortable atmosphere. Seekers, doubters, and followers are all invited to join in on these discussions. This is simply a place for people to gather and seek the truth about life and God together.

Questions are provided but feel free to bring your own topics to discuss. Come prepared to participate and to be challenged. Have a good time and drink responsibly. Help others enter the conversation and respect one another's opinions.

Theology on Tap meets on the third Tuesday of each month, 8:30 pm at Mitch's, a local tavern on Hillsborough St. Go up the stairs and into the back room.

The above quotes can be viewed here:

http://www.vintage21.com/events/theology_on_tap/

An article appearing in the News and Observer writes the following about Vintage21:

The discussion in the back room of Mitch's Tavern on Hillsborough Street is animated as a bunch of 20-somethings sit behind rustic tables nursing bottles of Newcastle beer. They don't pay much mind to the dim lights or the drone of bass-heavy rock music coming from the other room. They're talking about Jesus.

For these young people, many of whom attend a downtown church named Vintage21, the setting and the subject go together naturally. They like a nice, cold beer and, at the same time, they love Jesus.

It's a balance churches such as Vintage21 are encouraging. The 5-year-old congregation is part of a new Christian movement called "emerging" churches, whose underlying premise is that young people need to be reached differently. One way is by engaging popular culture.

As Nate Williams, the executive pastor, sums it up, "Not everything in culture is bad. We uphold those things that are good and beautiful."

At Vintage21, that means monthly "theology on tap" discussions at Mitch's Tavern. It also means embracing the arts. Most of the worship music is written by staff musicians, and the Web site and brochures are produced by an in-house design team.

The church, which moved into a section of the old Jillian's nightclub on West Street in downtown Raleigh earlier this month, wants to be a part of the downtown arts scene. It has plans to open its sanctuary to visiting bands and to partake in First Friday gallery walks.

The formula -- a cutting edge venue and a sophisticated aesthetic -- appears to be working. Vintage21 draws nearly 700 people to its three Sunday services, said Jones, and the average age is 27.

"The national trend is for 20-somethings to leave the church," said Tyler Jones, 32, the lead pastor. "We're seeing the opposite."

Even more alarming is the number of SBC seminary professors that are willing to ignore the deep rooted problems within those we are calling the “emerging church.”  Remember that Southeastern Seminary hosted the Convergence Conference in conjunction with the Acts 29 Boot Camp hosted by Vintage21 Church.  Remember also that the Point/Counter Point that appeared in Pathway in defense of the emerging church movement and Acts 29 was written by Dr. Mark DeVine, an SBC seminary professor.  The article continues: 

In a sign of how orthodox Vintage21 is, church leaders are warmly received at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, even though the church is nondenominational. Next month, prior to a conference that Southeastern is hosting on emerging churches, Vintage21 will host a "boot camp" for people interested in starting similar churches.

"Overall, I applaud what's going on at Vintage21," said John Hammett, a professor of theology at Southeastern who studies emerging churches. "It's a healthy church."

Although drinking beer is controversial among many in the evangelical community -- and Hammett said it might not be the wisest choice given the widespread abuse of alcohol -- there is a growing desire to give emerging churches some leeway so long as they remain steadfast on the fundamentals.

Vintage21 does that. Like many evangelical churches, it does not allow women to serve as elders and views homosexuality as a sin. Lead pastor Jones said barring women from serving as elders brought a "tidal wave" of controversy, but he said he thought it was in keeping with the Bible. "We want Scripture to read us, not vice versa," Jones said.

The above quotes can be viewed here:  http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1050969/theology_on_tap_emerging_church_vintage21_appeals_to_young_adults/index.html

Tony Cartledge, the former/moderate editor of the North Carolina state Baptist paper (Biblical Recorder) raises similar concerns about some of our conservative brethren.  Lip service to the fundamentals of the faith is apparently all that is necessary in contemporary SBC life. 

He writes: 

The question is, when Jesus comes, will he be drinking a beer?

I confess to having a hard time getting comfortable with the whole idea of "theology on tap" -- the movement among many emerging churches to host discussion groups in bars where participants (including the church leaders) have a beer while engaging in conversation about God.

I have no problem with the idea of going where the people are or with hosting a discussion group in a bar or even (to a lesser degree) with participants imbibing a bit in their natural habitat.

What I can't get used to is the image of the pastor downing a Budweiser while discussing baptism.

While many emergent congregations tend to be moderate-to-liberal in theology, I find it surprising that some extremely conservative folk have endorsed the concept of beer-based evangelism, at least when so-said evangelists hold to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible in other areas.

For example a recent news article about a non-denominational Raleigh church called Vintage 21 revealed that at least one professor from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is a great fan. Though he says the inclusion of beer drinking might not be the wisest choice, given widespread alcohol abuse, theology professor John Hammett told the News & Observer "Overall, I applaud what's going on at Vintage21," and described it as "a healthy church."

The church is acceptable, apparently, because it practices a very conservative approach to biblical interpretation on matters such as the place of women, and won't allow women to serve in the highest leadership positions.

Lucky for them the Bible doesn't mention beer by name, though it has a lot to say about the dangers of drunkenness.

Southeastern, in fact, is planning to join Vintage 21 -- part of the non-denominational Acts 29 network -- in co-sponsoring a "boot camp" for others who want to plant similar churches.

The thing I cannot fathom is the approach that a church can be so culture-friendly that its leaders will sit down with a beer to discuss theology, but won't allow women to sit at the table of church leadership.

The above quotes can be viewed here:

http://www.tonycartledge.com/2007/09/fundamental-love-of-beer.html

 

Tony Cartledge is now a contributing editor for the CBF-funded Baptists Today publication. 

http://www.biblicalrecorder.org/content/news/2007/04_23_2007/ne230407baptists.shtml

 

 

 

Terra Nova is an Acts 29 church in New York that hosts an event called  “Theology @ the Taproom.” 

 

According to the church website, “Theology at the Taproom” is held at Brown’s Brewing Company: 

 

Every church needs a place where those who are looking for an opportunity to study deeper, harder theology can do so in the context of community. In the tradition of the great reformers of Christian history, theology @ the taproom gathers at 6PM on the third Monday of every month at Brown’s Brewing Company’s signature pub conveniently located next door to Terra Nova’s office and education space.

Theology @ The Taproom is a unique place for study within the Capital Region’s faith community. Because of this you will find quite a few people from other churches taking part. This is not only accepted but also encouraged as multiple perspectives make the conversation livelier. So, no matter where you worship on Sundays, you are welcome to join in on the study.

Here’s how it works: Each September and January a new study begins using a classic time tested text of theology. Attendees read roughly 75 pages each month ahead of time and arrive ready for intense discussion over dinner and well crafted microbrews. THEOLOGY @ the TAPROOM meets in upper level "Trojan Room" at Brown's. For information on the next study send a note to theology@terranovachurch.org.

Visit Brown's Brewing on the Web @
brownsbrewing.com.

 

The above quotes can be viewed here: http://www.terranovachurch.org/theologytaproom.php

It is also important to note that Ed Marcelle is pastor of Terra Nova Church in Troy, New York and an Acts 29 Regional Coordinator.  (The following link documents that Marcelle is an Acts 29 Regional Coordinator:  http://www.theresurgence.com/heidelberg_project_2007-07-19_lords_day_28

 

 

Sojourn Church is an Acts 29 church in Alabama that meets in a brewery and hosts an event called “Theology Pub.” 

In an article on the church website titled: “Church in a brewery,” Sojourn pastor David Thew writes: Church in a brewery? Isn’t that an oxymoron?  No, it is God giving us greater opportunity to make disciples in Metro Huntsville.”  The article continues:   

Don Alan Hankins is the brew master and co-owner of Olde Towne Brewing Company. Don Alan became a disciple of Christ/born again Christian in October 2005. He now brews great beer to the glory of God. 

The article continues: 

Why would a church want to meet downtown in a brewery? This question will be a catalyst for other blogs. However, let me give you the short answer. Many people that Christ died for will not enter a traditional church building, but are intrigued by a church in a brewery. There are many pre-disciples in Metro Huntsville that will come, will hear the incredible news of Christ, and WILL become new disciples.

Folks are talking about it. Many are intrigued. Some are incensed. We do it to contextualize the gospel, without compromising the gospel, to take the gospel to as many people as we can. May God help us to do this in our “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).”

I believe that if Jesus showed up in Huntsville today, this is one of the places He would engage people. Do not miss the chance to worship Christ in a brewery!

David Thew
Sojourn Founding Pastor

The full text of this article can be viewed here:  http://sojournhuntsville.org/blogs/davidthew/2006/07/17/church_in_a_brewery

In another article appearing on the Sojourn website, titled, “Is It About the Beer?,” pastor Drew Thew writes, “I like beer.”  The full text of this article is following.  (Notice pastor Thew states below: “Most of the above quotes are from Drinking With Calvin and Luther, by Jim West.”  Just a side note, Dr. Jim West is a member of the Jesus Seminar.  http://www.theology.edu/journal/contribut.htm)       

I like beer. It is an organic drink that has ancient roots. I enjoy trying beers from breweries and microbreweries around the globe. I especially like Huntsville’s own, Olde Towne beer. Don Alan Hankins is quite the brew master.

So how can a pastor like beer? Well, there is a heritage of pastors and theologians who enjoyed beer, wine and other drinks. John Calvin is quoted to say, “if we study… why he has created the various kinds of food, we shall find that it was his intention not only to provide for our needs, but likewise for our pleasure and our delight… For, if this were not true, the Psalmist would not enumerate among the divine blessings, ‘the wine that makes glad the heart of man, and the oil that makes his face to shine.’”

I am not a fan of crappy, watered-down beer. Martin Luther said, “The selling of bad beer is a crime against Christian love.” He also said, “Beer is made by man, wine by God.” George Whitfield once wrote, “Give thanks to that friendly brewer for the keg of rum he sent us.” One sign in Olde Towne’s office quotes Benjamin Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” (Most of the above quotes are from Drinking With Calvin and Luther, by Jim West. Another good resource is, God Gave Wine, by Kenneth L. Gentry.)

God had a perfect design for Adam and Eve. Basically, God told them to (1) Enjoy Me, (2) Enjoy each other, and (3) Enjoy My creation. They blew it by not believing and obeying Him. Adam’s sin destroyed the ability to truly enjoy God, enjoy relationships and enjoy creation. But the second Adam, Jesus Christ, died so that these relationships could be redeemed (bought back). Through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead we are now able to (1) Enjoy God, (2) Enjoy His Bride – the Church, (3) Enjoy His Mission – reaching predisciples, the helpless and the hurting, and (4) Enjoy His Creation.

Drinking a beer to the glory of God falls in category 4. So does sex, power, money, food, materials, work and others. The redemption of God frees us to bring the abused gifts of God (sin) back into alignment of God’s design. Therefore, you can choose to abuse any of gifts (sin). Or, you can choose to bring God glory by the righteous and God-designed use of that gift.

God chose to reveal the sacrament of communion through wine. He did not make a mistake. We have been told to remember Him through this sacrament until He comes again. Regarding this someone was quoted to say, “Others drink to forget. Christians drink to remember.” Call the abuse of His gifts evil. Just be careful to not call any of God’s gifts evil.

I respect and support anyone who feels led or has chosen to abstain from beverage alcohol. Abstain to the glory of God. John the Baptist did. However, I do not respect any thought or movement that uses extra-biblical preference as a bully pulpit for all to abstain. If you choose to consume alcohol, remember that there are times when you should abstain out of discipline, safety, respect, and deference to others. Do all things with love in mind.

I close with this Scripture: “So whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER you do, do ALL for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (emphasis mine)

Cheers!
David Thew
Sojourn Founding Pastor

www.churchinabrewery.com

The above article can be viewed here:  http://sojournhuntsville.org/blogs/davidthew/2006/12/02/is_it_about_the_beer

On another website of Sojourn Church (www.churchinabrewery.com) it states this: 

Dear website visitor,

On July 5th, 2007 our Sunday morning meeting place burned to the ground. The Olde Town Brewing Company caught fire around 2:30 am that morning. Hours later the building and its contents were destroyed.

 

 

Aestus is an Acts 29 church in the state of Washington that hosts an event called “Monthly Men’s Shop Talk.” 

 

According to the church website, this event is held at the Whistle Stop Ale House, which lists an extensive list of available beers, wines and drinks “a bit stronger.”  The church website states:    

·         Monthly Men's Shop Talk: The 4th Tuesday evening of every month at 7:00, we will get together to hammer out theology and life together. This won't be some boring academic lecture (yuck!) but a chance to grab a beverage of your choice and tackle some important issues about God, Jesus, the Bible, life, family, politics, mission, and everything else.

o        November 27th, 7-9pm

Location: Whistle Stop Ale House in Renton, 7-9pm.

--Contact Brian Hope for more information at info@aestus.org

 

The Aestus Church website is:  http://aestus.org/events.html

The Whistle Stop Ale House website is:  http://www.whistlestopalehouse.com/ 

 

 

 

Damascus Road Church is an Acts 29 church in the state of Washington and sponsors a “Men’s Poker Night” and “Men’s Bible and Brew” night. 

On the website of Damascus Road Church, on a web page promoting a “Men’s Bible Study,” which the church has also referred to as “Men’s Bible & Brew,” it reveals an attitude about Scripture among these young emerging men that we don’t hear much about.  It states: 

In an effort to help us live out our responsibilities as men, we will schedule bi-monthly MEN'S BIBLE STUDIES.  They will take place on Tuesday evenings from about 7-9pm.  Now, I know what you're thinking.  You probably look forward to a men's bible studies like you look forward to root canal work. 

 

The article continues with the following: 

 FOOD & DRINK:  There is just something about having food on your plate and a drink in your hand that makes fellowship that much easier.  Whether the food is healthy or fattening, or the drink is coffee or beer, we desire to follow Christ's example.  Jesus set us an example by living within a culture where eating together was meaningful in itself.  We believe that Jesus was the kind of man that ate and drank with His friends as He taught them God's truth.

While the current church website refers to this event as a “Men’s Bible Study,” the church calendar, during 2007, has referred to this Bible Study as “Men’s Bible & Brew.”  The church calendar also advertises a “Men’s Movie Night.” 

The above quotes can be viewed here:  http://www.damascusroadchurch.org/gather/men-of-the-road/mens-bible-studies/

 

Promoting the “Men’s Poker Night” event, the church website states: 

It's not about poker, it’s about relaxing, enjoying the company of some men, making grunting noises, and laughing at Junior High humor. If you're a man, and you have 10 bucks, here's your chance to prove your poker skills or lack there of. Depending on the number of men who show, we will have several $5 games in before the night is through. Bring your favorite soothing beverage (barley pop, soda, water, etc.) and bring something fattening to eat! For the same price as a movie, you can enjoy some laughs and, if you're lucky, go home with a little extra. Invite your buddies!

But...if it were about Poker, let's remember that poker is not necessarily gambling, it is a game of skill.  Gambling holds a ton of negative connotations and probably conjures up images of some dead-beat dad throwing his paycheck away at a craps table.  Do not be mistaken.  Poker did not make this man gamble to excess, sin did.  Poker becomes sin when it leads to overindulgence, as does food, internet use, or anything else perverted by the sin within us.  Again, Poker is a game of skill, a craft that can be enjoyed, studied, and/or mastered.

"I have great respect for the game of poker. I would never call poker gambling anymore. I would equate it much more with chess and other games of skill, games that require multi-level strategic, mathmatical or psychological skills. For those who play seriously there's no luck involved, at all. Entering that tournament that Matt and I played in Vegas was the equivalent of us entering Wimbledon. We were getting beaten soundly by far, far suprior players at a game of skill."  Edward Norton, after filming Rounders

The above quotes can be viewed here:  http://www.damascusroadchurch.org/gather/men-of-the-road/mens-poker-nights

Click here for an explanation from the pastor of Damascus Road Church regarding their Poker Night and use of alcohol.  http://damascusroadchurch.org/boards/comments.php?DiscussionID=41

 

The Journey Church in Jackson, Mississippi is an Acts 29 church that meets in a brewery.  http://www.explorethejourney.org/

The Journey meets in Hal and Mal’s Restaurant and Brewery.  In an article titled, “Can Churches and Bars Mix?,” posted on the website of WAPT, an ABC affiliate, it states:  

Do churches and alcohol, gambling, or R-rated movies mix?  Southern Baptist leaders are fighting hard against the trend, but some new churches said they need to reach out to people who have been shunned by the church.

It doesn't mean worship that condones drinking or drugs; it does mean ministers searching for messages and church members where other churches never look.

Hal and Mal's is famous for a beer after work, but on Sunday nights at 6 -- when the alcohol is locked up -- the back room of the bar is transformed into a different sort of watering hole, where members of The Journey Church said they meet to quench their thirst for Jesus Christ.

The full text of this article can be viewed here:  http://www.wapt.com/news/13298375/detail.html

 

 

 

Mars Hill is an Acts 29 church in the state of Washington:  “Beer-brewing lessons” for the men of the church. 

The pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle is Mark Driscoll, also referred to as “Mark the cussing pastor.”  Driscoll is president of Acts 29 and is a major force within the emerging church/church planting movements.  According to Christianity Today, Driscoll was named one of the most influential young preachers in America with over one million downloads of his sermons each year.  (http://www.theopedia.com/Mark_Driscoll)  Even among church planters within the MBC that are not “officially” Acts 29, Driscoll is a major influence.  MBC church planter and pastor of Urban Impact in Kansas City, Mike Brown, states:  “Next I would like to point out that I view Darrin Patrick [Acts 29 vice president] and Mark Driscoll as my mentors along with a few others.  I listen to more of their sermons than anyone else.  I listen to more of their teachings on leadership and church planting than anyone else.”  

Driscoll was one of the earliest leaders in the emerging church movement, but says he later distanced himself from the “emergent” wing of the movement because of their liberal theological positions.  He writes: 

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.            

 

The full text of this article can be viewed here: http://theresurgence.com/?q=node/5 

Stating that “I myself swim in the theologically conservative stream of the Emerging Church,” Driscoll claims to be “theologically conservative and culturally liberal.”  Regarding the use of alcohol, Driscoll writes: “My Bible study convicted me of my sin of abstinence from alcohol,” at which time he “repented” and immediately began to drink alcohol. Driscoll’s church website notes that the church has “beer-brewing lessons whenever a large group of [Mars Hill] men get together.” This would be in keeping with Driscoll’s view of Jesus, who, according to Driscoll, began His public ministry at a wedding, where He “kicks things off as a bartender.” 

On the Mars Hill Church website, in an article titled “Alcohol,” it states the following: 

At Mars Hill Church, we ask that everyone act according to their conscience when it comes to alcohol consumption. Because of past sin, some who have had problems with alcohol may need to abstain for fear of stumbling into old sinful habits. For those who enjoy alcohol with biblical moderation, we recommend using discernment when providing hospitality for others who may have conscience or addiction issues. Best of all, we look forward to the day when our Lord and Savior will prepare for us a redeemed feast with wine:

This quote can be viewed here:  http://www.marshillchurch.org/content/alcohol

There are many places to find Driscoll’s position that he is “theologically conservative and culturally liberal.”  Here is one:  http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2007/september/30.44.html

Mars Hill Church hosts an annual New Year’s Eve event called “Red Hot Bash.”  The 2007 event was advertised as follows: 

Ring in 2007 in Red Hot Style. This New Year’s Eve party features internationally known artist, Bobby Medina & his Red Hot Band. This 12 piece big band does it all, from Swing, to Latin to Motown and beyond and are widely considering one of the top dance bands in the Northwest. We’ll be transforming our auditorium into a Red Hot Spot, bringing in an enormous dance floor, refreshments, dessert, champagne, photos in an awesome backdrop designed for the event and all the noise-making party favors you could want. At midnight, countdown with 1000 other revelers with fireworks live from Seattle’s Space Needle on the big screens. This is going to be an unforgettable party. Get ready to sizzle!

Under the heading “ID’s,” it states:  “Bring your ID’s if you wish to enjoy the champagne bar, which opens at 11:30pm for toasting.”  The webpage also notes that the party begins at 10:00pm and goes until 1:30am. 

Under the heading “Attire,” it states:  “This is a swanky event on a day to celebrate.  Bonus points for anything RED hot!”  (The 2008 advertisement changed the last statement to:  “Bonus points for anything RED in color!”)   

In regard to the “beer-brewing lessons,” an article on the Mars Hill Church webpage titled, “Mars Hill sure knows how to party, dated January 5th, 2007, states the following: 

 

Others have asked “Does Mars Hill know how to enjoy a good brew (coffee or beer)?”  That has also been answered with extra-strength java generously available at all church services and beer-brewing lessons whenever a large group of MH men get together. 

(This article is no longer available online.)  The website for the 2008 Red Hot Bash can be viewed here:  http://www.redhotbash.com/

Driscoll also writes that some of his “sermons on sex were R-rated,” and notes that he gives “warnings to parents and sometimes saw whole visiting youth groups walk out blushing halfway through the sermon.”

According to Driscoll, his church also has a film and theology event that shows “an occasional unedited R-rated movie.”  According to the Mars Hill website, the church hosts an event called “Film and Theology.”  The website states:  “If cinema is a modern day pulpit, Film & Theology uses it to identify Jesus’ presence (and lack thereof) in the religion that is pop culture.”  It concludes by stating:  “Film & Theology events include viewing a film in its entirety on a big screen with great sound, followed by exposition and discussion of the film's cinematic and philosophical elements.”

(These quotes can be viewed here  http://www.marshillchurch.org/content/FilmTheology)

Regarding “Mark the cussing pastor,” below is Driscoll’s own account of how that label came about.  The following is an interview with Driscoll by former Acts 29 board member Ed Stetzer, currently at Lifeway Research and formerly at NAMB.  Stetzer was David Clippard’s “go to man at NAMB and was a featured speaker at various MBC events.

( http://www.mbcpathway.com/2006archives/article43839.htm)  Stetzer has openly called for Southern Baptists to embrace the “theologically conservative” wing of the emerging church movement -- most specifically, Acts 29. 

Mark the Cussing Pastor
This infamous phrase is like the high school photo in the yearbook that you hope no one sees. In 1997 as the church was just getting started, a man came up from Oregon having heard what we were doing and was considering moving to Seattle to be a part of Mars Hill Church. Donald Miller was just getting started and had not published a book yet. At that point our church was very small and visitors stuck out. I took Don out to dinner to try to entice him to come back to our church. We went to a pizza place afterward and talked about the church. He really wanted to stay in Portland if a church like Mars Hill existed there. A friend of mine Rick McKinley did start a church in Portland and Don became a member there. For the first few years his book, Blue Like Jazz didn't sell many copies. He didn't even talk to me about the book but I must have said something over dinner that led him to label me as the cussing pastor. So over a decade later at a casual dinner my brand was immovably affixed. Don is a friend of mine but I just wish an off-comment at a meal isn't my defining moment.

What gets me into trouble is my humor. It is what keeps me sane. I have a stressful life and I fear that I will be the guy that shows up at work unknowingly with his underwear outside of his pants. The pressure and stress is great. I receive death threats. Our church has gone from 1,200 to 6,000 in four years. It is very intense. I have had no one else to lean on. So for me, telling jokes and being light hearted is my way of coping with stress. But sometimes when I get overly stressed, my mouth and anger gets me into trouble. My tone, my attitude and my mouth are indicators of how closely I walk with Jesus. I have come to realize that I speak for more than just Mark Driscoll. I speak for Jesus. I know I can't be this foul-mouthed, gunslinger for Jesus. I still think strong language and a prophetic edge is appropriate. But shock-jock language isn't.

The full text of the Stetzer/Driscoll interview can be viewed here: 

http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/interview-with-mark-driscoll-by-dr-ed-stetzer/

 

 

 

The following are three Acts 29 Regional Coordinators: 

1.       Jonathan McIntosh is Acts 29’s Midwest Regional Coordinator and Missions and Teaching Pastor at The JourneySt. Louis, MO.  

http://www.acts29network.org/sermon/the-importance-of-preaching-across-3-streams

The following is an excerpt from Baptist Press:  http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=24624

Other concerns [about the Journey] include a website statement on the bio of Journey’s Mission Pastor Jonathan MacIntosh who writes that he enjoys drinks with his wife “at the almost secret bar beneath Brennan's in the Central West End,” and a picture associated with an essay by Patrick that shows a small group of people raising glasses of beer in an apparent toast.

 

2.       Jeff Vanderstelt is pastor of Soma, an Acts 29 church in Tacoma, WA and northwest regional coordinator for Acts 29.

http://www.churchcloud.com/acts29/event/2008-02-25-boot-camp--seattle

The following is an excerpt from the Soma Church Website: http://tacoma.somacommunities.org/family/men

Part of the work of God that Soma feels called to in Tacoma is to call and develop boys to become men who love Jesus and fulfill their God given responsibility to their families and communities.

The men of Soma invest our lives in each other and the Mission of God. We regularly get together to hang out, disciple and encourage one another. Sometimes we head off for a long weekend to grow and learn what it means to be biblical men. Often we just play a little Texas Hold ‘Em and drink a few micro-brews.

Jeff Vanderstelt will also be one of the speakers at Willow Creek’s 2008, three-day Student Ministries Conference called “Shift.”  The featured speaker is Brian McLaren, an icon for the far-left wing of the emerging church movement and leader of:  Emergent Village; Jim Wallis’ Sojourners; and Tony Campolo’s “Red Letter Christians” organization.  (More to come on this later.)

3.       Ed Marcelle is pastor of Terra Nova Church in Troy, New York and the Acts 29 Northeast Regional Coordinator.  (See Terra Nova Church above about their Theology at the Taproom.)

                                        

 

Acts 29 Influence among MBC Church Planters who are not officially affiliated with the group:  Urban Impact in Kansas City

 

While there are only 11 Acts 29 churches in Missouri, other church planters have been significantly influenced by the Acts 29 approach to “ministry.”  One such example might be Urban Impact, pastored by MBC church planter Mike Brown. 

While Brown is not listed as an Acts 29 church planter, he did attend an Acts 29 Boot Camp and went through the assessment process.  Up until February 2007, his church website stated:  “Some Baptist believe any alcohol consumption to be sin, however we do not agree with this, but teach that it is acceptable in moderation.”  By March of 2007, the alcohol language was removed. 

The day after the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran a front page article (Jan. 28, 2007) about the Journey Church in St. Louis, Brown made the following statement on a blog regarding the bar-room “ministry” at the Journey – a ministry that a committee of the MBC Executive Board (the Church Plant Workgroup) looked into and was told there was no alcohol issues at the Journey or among MBC church planters.  That committee, at the request of MBC president Ralph Sawyer, met August 15, 2006 and issued their report stating:

Discussions also included concern over a church in the “St. Louis area, which recently received MBC funds for a building program [The Journey], where some members have been suspected of drunkenness.  In light of the lack of evidence present when we met, and considering the favorable reports we received from their Associate Director of Missions, Darren Casper [a member of the Journey] and others, this concern was dismissed for the time being. 

While the MBC Executive Board would remain completely unaware of the alcohol issues at the Journey and among other Acts 29/MBC church plants until the December 2006 Executive Board meeting, Urban Impact pastor and MBC-funded church planter Mike Brown writes the day after the St. Louis Post Dispatch article exposed the Journey’s bar-room ministry: 

 

Hey all,

as a pastor of a new church plant in missouri, and further more new to the mbc. i have been a little disturbed by this story. it seems to me like nothing more than a witch hunt. i think this has more to do with david Clifford [Clippard], then Darrin Patrick. this ministry that the journey is doing is not new. it has been known about the entire time. but now all the sudden it is a big deal! darrin is reaching people, and more than that changing lives. i hope i can be half the pastor he is. and look up to him very much. i fully support the journey on this issue. keep up the good work darrin

This article can be viewed here:   http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:22fl3O1alGYJ:www.stevekmccoy.com/reformissionary/2007/01/beer_darrin_pat.html+%22Mike+Brown%22+%22darrin+patrick%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

 

On a discussion group called the “Missouri Baptist List,” Mike Brown makes the following statement on April 30, 2007 in defense of Acts 29: 

 

I began a inner city ministry in a apartment building in the winter of 2004.  At the time I did not even know of Acts 29 or the SBC.  As luck would have it a friend of mine in Dallas Texas invited me to come down and visit a church that was both SBC and Acts 29. 

 

This church started in 2002 with 160 people.  It was a old and dying Southern Baptist Church.  A young Acts 29 pastor came over from Prestonwood Baptist.  Now that church runs somewhere in the 4500 range. 

 

Now I know that their growth was all about Jesus.  But the methods they used were basically Acts 29. 

 

After visiting the church, I was invited to come for a Acts 29 Boot Camp (which would be a few months later).  I went home researched them out.  And started a online assessment process (very detailed). 

 

I flew back to Dallas in September of 2005 to attend there boot camp.  At that boot camp the featured speaker was Ed Stetzer, Mark Driscoll, and Darrin Patrick.  I was given a face to face interview and had to answer some tough questions.  There are very thourgh. 

 

I point all this out to show that I have first hand knowledge of Acts 29.    

 

Next I would like to point out that I view Darrin Patrick and Mark Driscoll as my mentors along with a few others. 

 

I listen to more of their sermons than anyone else.  I listen to more of their teachings on leadership and church planting than anyone else.

 

 

Quotes from Ron Cathcart’s sermon on Alcohol

  

Ron Cathcart is pastor of Two Rivers Church in Wentzville, MO, an Acts 29 church planted by Cathcart in 1999 and was listed on the Acts 29 website as one of Missouri’s 11 Acts 29 churches.  (In mid 2007, Two Rivers’ name was removed from the Acts 29 website.  Later in the year, Fellowship Church in O’Fallon was also removed from the list.  The last “hardcopy” list of Acts 29 churches available to MBLA listing Two Rivers as an Acts 29 church is February 22, 2007.) 

However, Cathcart was one of the featured speaker at the Acts 29 Regional Quarterly meeting held at the Journey Church in St. Louis on November 6, 2007, just days after his father-in-law, Gerald Davidson, was elected president of the MBC.  On October 1, 2005, Cathcart was hired by former MBC Executive Director David Clippard as a church plant strategist for the MBC. (http://www.mbcpathway.com/article29239.htm)  Cathcart’s Two Rivers Church is the mother church of an Acts 29 church plant in St. Charles called Matthias’ Lot. (http://www.mbcpathway.com/article32012.htm)  After leaving the MBC, Cathcart went back to serve as pastor of Two Rivers. 

In a sermon preached just after the Post Dispatch featured the Journey Church on the front page of the Sunday edition in an article entitled:  “Beer and the Bible,” Cathcart stated to his congregation that his “personal policy” regarding alcohol is “total abstinence.”  However, he went on to state that “the Bible does not prohibit drinking.”  He further stated:  “Now if you don’t come to that conclusion today [total abstinence], I’m not going to judge you.  But I do want you to be able to defend your decision Scripturally.”  He goes on to quote from 1 Timothy chapter three regarding the qualifications of a deacon.  He states:

Deacons likewise are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine and not pursuing dishonest gain.  There are so many Baptist deacons out there that don’t know that verse is in the Bible, because they’re hiding everywhere, when all the Bible really says is don’t drink a whole lot of wine.  They can quit sneaking around.  [Pause and laughing]  That’s a nervous laughter, because you know it’s true.  You know it’s true.

Cathcart goes on to talk about Mark Driscoll, president of Acts 29.  He states: 

“I have a book in my hand here, it’s called Radical Refomission.  It’s written by a gentleman named Mark Driscoll.  Mark Driscoll planted this church, Mars Hill in Seattle a while back.  He’s an icon in the church planting world.  His church has grown from a small handful of people to 10,000 people. [actually about 6000] Started in his mid twenties, he’s in his 30’s now.  He’s articulate, he’s a genius.  He’s the head of this Acts 29 Church Planting Network, planting churches literally all around the globe.  All that being said, again, I’m not judging Mark Driscoll, I’m just trying to be honest about the discussion, because I’m in this discussion.  In this book, Radical Reformission, that pretty much every church planter and a lot of these young pastors are reading  -- a lot of guys that are starting the next generation of churches are following this – reading this. 

Cathcart goes on to discuss the three positions on alcohol as laid out by Mark Driscoll (“prohibitionist” – it’s wrong to drink and I don’t; “abstentionists” – it’s OK to drink, but I don’t; and “moderationists” – it’s OK to drink and I do).  Identifying himself as an “abstentionists” and Driscoll as a “moderationists,” Cathcart stops to make the following statement regarding his “personal policy” of “total abstinence” from alcohol.  This quote speaks volumes about the attitude regarding alcohol among those who have aligned themselves with Acts 29.  He states:   

You’all have no idea how dangerous what I’m doing right now is.  I’m going to end up on a website somewhere this week as the brunt of a bunch of jokes.  I promise you, I’m going to.  It’s gonna happen.  And Mark Driscoll is way smarter than I am.  Somebody’s gonna get this to him and I promise – I’m not calling Mark Driscoll out, I’m just sharing my views.  I love Mark Driscoll – love what he’s doing.  But I just got to share my heart.  So here it is, and if I’m the brunt of a bunch of jokes for my position, then so be it.  I’m willing to take that. 

In the above quote, Cathcart is acknowledging that his “abstentionist” position regarding alcohol is in the minority among Acts 29/young church planters.  As he quotes from “Radical Reformission,” Driscoll’s book where he speaks of his repentance from his “sin of abstinence” from alcohol, Cathcart states:  “And there’s way more church planters listening and reading [Mark Driscoll’s] stuff than are listening to my stuff.  But if any church planters out there hear this on the web -- even if it’s being used to make me the brunt of jokes, I hope you’ll listen to my heart and at least consider the position I’m laying out today.”  

Below are three links that still show Ron Cathcart’s church, 2 Rivers, as an Acts 29 church.

http://feedraider.com/item/644791/Reforming-My-Mind-MP3s/Acts-29-Network-Church-Directory-with-MP3-Sermons/

http://www.goodmanson.com/2006-07/02/acts-29-church-plants/

http://psalm305.blogspot.com/2007/01/acts-29-network-church-directory-with.html

Below is the link to the Acts 29 website regarding the Acts 29 Regional Quarterly meeting at the Journey where Cathcart was one of the featured speakers. 

http://www.acts29network.org/event/2007-11-06-regional--st-louis-mo

 

St. Louis Metro Baptist Association Starts Fund for Acts 29 / MBC Church Plants De-funded by the MBC Executive Board

And the Save Our Convention (SOC) Connection

In an article titled, “Show me the money,” the Acts 29 website states that: 

In response to the de-funded church planters in Missouri, the St Louis Metro Baptist Association, under the direction of Darren Casper has formed a Church Planting Fund called "Show Me Partnership." It is a way that people can assist those church planters whose funds from the Missouri Baptist Convention will be cut off January 1, 2008…

The article goes on to state:  “The St. Louis Metro Baptist Association started the fund with a donation of $10,000.  Some small churches in Missouri are chipping in, and others are needed to fill the gap.”  

Interestingly, Darren Casper, associate director of missions of the St. Louis Metro Association, is a member of the Journey Church in St. Louis.  The Director of Missions, Jim Breeden, is one of the 11 “Save Our Convention” (SOC) leaders who, in October 2007, stated that “for the last few months” he had been “attending and going through membership classes” at the Genesis Church, a new church plant in Eureka.  The Genesis is another Acts 29 church in the St. Louis Metro Association. 

David McAlpin, pastor of First Baptist Church, Harvester and also one of the 11 SOC leaders is a part of the St. Louis Metro Association.  McAlpin’s church helped the Journey start the Refuge in St. Charles, an Acts 29 church plant that also had a ministry in a brewery called “Theology on Main.”  The pastor of the Refuge, Trey Herweck, was an intern from the Journey.  McAlpin’s son, Stephen, is now serving as an intern at the Journey.  http://www.journeyon.net/stephen-mcalpin/

John Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Springfield and current Second Vice President of the MBC, has also stated that he is supportive of the Acts 29 group.  Yet, this should come as no surprise.  Acts 29 church planter and former Second Baptist staff member Lane Harrison, is now pastor of Lifepoint Church in Ozark, one of the eleven Acts 29 churches in Missouri.  Lifepoint is affiliated with the MBC (Harrison served as Singles Minister and served at Second Baptist from 1999 through 2005).  But of even greater concern is Second Baptist staff member Ryan Wiksell, who planted a new church in downtown Springfield called The Core Fellowship.  (Wiksell apparently left Second Baptist in December 2007)  In a speech made by Roger Moran before the SBC Executive Committee in February 2007, he made the following statement regarding this new church plant in Springfield: 

But it actually gets much more serious. One of our new pro-alcohol emerging church plants in Springfield, Mo., recently offered to those making a contribution to their church a copy of a book by Brian McLaren, the undisputed leader of the far-left wing of the Emerging Church Movement. McLaren is best known for his statements calling for a 5 to 10 year “moratorium” on any “pronouncements” against homosexuality and his statement rejecting the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

On the website of this new church plant in Missouri, the pastor bashes the name “Christian” stating that he doesn’t want to become “known as a bad tipper, judgmental jerk, or a nationalist warmonger.” He concludes by stating:  “By that token, I believe Jesus would be a terrible Christian. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he chose never to show up in church on Sunday, or had a beer at a frat party, or frequented a gay bookstore. And you know what the Christians would say? ‘This man doesn’t honor the Sabbath’ or ‘This man hangs out with sinners.’”

The full text of the article I quoted from, with an “update,” can be viewed here:  http://www.thecoredowntown.com/2006/11/sound-of-underground.html

 

In regard to the Core Fellowship’s position on alcohol, pastor Ryan Wiksell posted the following statement on January 29, 2007, one day after the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article about the Journey Church in St. Louis titled, “Beer and the Bible,” which appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition of the paper.  Wiksell titled his piece, “St. Louis Church Fighting Our Battles In Advance?”  The article goes on to state:  (This is exactly as it appeared on the church website)

Everyone needs to read this article…  Phil brought it to my attention and I think it is crucial that we’re aware of the alcohol controversy.  Although I’m sure that we, as leaders, would all be willing to forego alcohol consumption if necessary (most of us don’t drink as it is,) we have to be true to our commitment to raw scripture, and be wary of any attempts to ladle extra-biblical rules on top of people.  In addition, there are many opportunities to connect with people outside the church world through the responsible use of alcohol.  If we’re going to forfeit those opportunities, I think we’d need a pretty powerful reason.  I hope to get in touch with the pastor of this St. Louis church… see what advice he might have for us.  Here’s the article:

 

Wiksell then reprints the Post Dispatch article.  However, it is important to note that in recent months, much of the above quote was removed from the church website.  The part that remains can be viewed here: http://www.thecoredowntown.com/2007/01/st-louis-church-fighting-our-battles-in.html

 

Also, the links from the Core Fellowship’s website to Emergent Village (Brian McLaren’s group) and Sojourners (Jim Wallis’ group of which Brian McLaren serves as chairman of the board) have been removed in recent months.  (Hard copies are available.) 

 

In the Point/Counterpoint on Acts 29 and the Emerging Church that appeared in Pathway, Roger Moran  provided a glimpse into the left-wing of the movement: 

Providing a glimpse into the theological underpinning of the left-wing of the Emerging Church, McLaren writes in his book, Generous Orthodoxy: “… I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion,” arguing instead that we may just need to “help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts.” He further writes: “Ultimately, I hope that Jesus will save Buddhism, Islam, and every other religion, including the Christian religion, which often seems to need saving about as much as any other religion does.” 

McLaren also serves as chairman of the board of Sojourners, a group led by Jim Wallis. http://www.brianmclaren.net/biography.html   (For Emergent Village leadership, click here:  http://www.emergentvillage.com/about-information/leadership)   In a lengthy article released by the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association in the late 1990’s dealing with Wallis, we state: 

Wallis stated his own support for a Marxist world view in a 1979 article in Mission Trends: “As more Christians become influenced by liberation theology, finding themselves increasingly rejecting the values and institutions of capitalism, they will also be drawn to the Marxist analysis and praxis that is so central to the movement.  That more Christians will come to view the world through Marxist eyes is therefore predictable.  It will even be predictable among the so-called ‘young evangelicals’ who, for the most part, have a zeal for social change that is not yet matched by a developed socioeconomic analysis that will cause them to see the impossibility of making capitalism work for justice and peace.  Now that the ‘new socialist society’ is replacing the capitalist system in the minds of many as the hope for the future, growing numbers of Christians will join the movement and seek to provide a convincing religious rationale and justification for what is defined as historically inevitable.” ( Mission Trends No 4, 1979, “Liberation Theologies in North America,” pp. 54-55) 

 

In a letter to the editor (Pathway), Moran also responded to a pastor who said that he was “shocked” to learn that the church plant Moran had referred to (The Core Fellowship) before the SBC Executive Committee “has no affiliation” with the MBC or SBC.  Quoting predominately from the website and writings of the Core Fellowship pastor, Moran responded:    

 

1.    The Core Fellowship “did receive church-planting training from the Missouri Baptist Convention.”

2.    The Core Fellowship “receive[s] monthly financial support from an SBC church.” 

3.    The Core Fellowship’s pastor is on staff at “Second Baptist [Springfield], as a graphic designer and arts assistant.” 

4.    The Core Fellowship has its pastor’s office at Second Baptist Springfield. 

5.    The Core Fellowship has “a great relationship with Second Baptist” which has been “very generous with their help and their resources.” 

6.    The Core Fellowship “also borrow[s] a room at First Baptist where we hold our weekly ‘brunch gatherings.’”

7.    The Core Fellowship also notes on its website that they have “explored the idea of affiliating” with the MBC “which we are still considering.” 

 

It is also important to note that the Greene County Baptist Association sent out a letter in early February [2007], signed by DOM Mike Haynes, calling for the churches of the association to support The Core Fellowship.  The associational letter was accompanied by a fundraising letter from The Core Fellowship which promised to donors a copy of a book by Brian McLaren, chairman of the board of Emergent Village, the far-left wing of the emerging church movement. 

 

Moran’s concluding statement goes to the heart of the matter: 

My point to the SBC Executive Committee was simple:  This is just one example of the kind of church plants that are coming out of the Emerging Church Movement.  And if some of our prominent Missouri Baptists are knowingly or unknowingly supporting these kinds of church plants, it speaks volumes about where we are going.

 

 

Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association

Roger A. Moran, Research Director

PO Box 358, Winfield, MO  63389

Phone:  636-668-8055

Email:  salesbbt@centurytel.net

 

February 29, 2008

Updated:  March 8, 2008