Why I Love Acts 29 & Why I’m Leaving

Iscreen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-22-20-amn March of 2017 I will have been a part of the Acts 29 Network for ten years. By “part of,” I mean that back in March, 2007, I was first assessed by a group of pastors in A29 while attending an Acts 29 Boot Camp at Mars Hill Church, Seattle. The assessment was used by God to help me focus on two things: first, a reminder that church planting required that I place a high priority on close fellowship with my wife; and second, an exhortation to have a clear plan of where I was going and what I was called to do.

Because of the work which God was leading me to do–plant a church in southern New Jersey, as part of the New Jersey Presbytery of the PCA–this input proved to be critical, and so I pursued a relationship with Acts 29 for a few different reasons. Continue reading

In Defense of Suburban Living (part 3)

The suburbs are really little cities, and in my last essay, I explained how my town really is an idea with at least three elements. The first is its historic element; in my case, my town, Old Sewell, was once a little town, with a mayor, I’d guess, and a unique identity.

No longer. Old Sewell is now just a few streets with what was once a downtown, but now only has a few shops, and nothing more. It has been engulfed in the larger municipality known as Mantua Township.

But rising out of the ashes of Old Sewell is the Mighty Sewell Post Office, which has lent the name of Sewell to lots of other little towns in the municipality of Washington Township due to a dispute over naming rights that goes back more than a hundred years. This is the second element of the “idea of Sewell.”

The last element gets to the point of the series, namely: making a defense of suburban living.

It is this truth: as far as I’ve been able to tell, Sewell is made of what most people would call neighborhoods, subdivisions, or developments. There are between twenty to fifty of these, depending on how you count them.

But where others see neighborhoods, I see cities. In fact, I call them little cities. Continue reading

In Defense of Suburban Living (part 2)

The suburbs as an idea have taken a beating over the years. Which is ironic; in a society where sin and transgression have all but been eliminated from our cultural lexicon, we certainly haven’t eliminated the Ten Commandments, we’ve just altered them a bit.

Here are five that come to mind: 1) Thou shalt not hurt little children; 2) Thou shalt not poison the environment; 3) Believe whatever you want (as long as it doesn’t affect me); 4) Thou shalt worry and fuss about baby animals (but not about little human beings called fetuses); and of course: 5) Thou shalt not live in the suburbs.

Last time I posted on this subject, I made the point that density, proximity to work and employment, and dependence upon the automobile don’t by themselves make a place bad, or disadvantageous. They are factors of city, but not necessarily negative ones. Continue reading

Dear Bill: Baptism and Secondary Things

Dear Bill,

You’ve asked to me and asked me why I called “baptism” a “secondary matter.” I’d like to try and explain myself a little better than I did the first time we talked, so that’s why I’m taking time to write out my thoughts in the form of a letter.

First of all, “secondary matters” for Christians do not mean unimportant matters. Rather, they refer to things over which Christians may and do often disagree but which do not rise to the level of primary issues of orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy doesn’t mean beards and incense, by the way. It is what defines a Christian. Secondary matters are what distinguish Christians from one another.

I used to teach Biology; secondary matters are what makes a species. Primary matters are what make a genus. In Christianity, primary matters refer to the vital heart and center of the Gospel.

For example, did Jesus really rise from the Dead? Was He really fully man and fully God? Was he born of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Will we stand before God in judgment?

Secondary matters are not at the vital heart and center of the Gospel, but they are still convictions about what is “biblical” and “unbiblical.” The difference is that, at the end of the day, we can agree to disagree over these biblical convictions.

Some examples of such secondary matters include: Continue reading