In 2007, I was ordained and my wife and I were sent out from our home church in Elkton, MD. Together with about ten other families, we formed the launch team to plant Living Hope Church in Southern York County. This June, we’ll celebrate 14 years of God’s gracious work among us. God is good, the Gospel is spreading, and the church is at work!
It was not until 2017 that the elders formally joined the Acts 29 Network. Why did we decide 10 years after starting LHC to do that? The church was moving along; we were healthy and growing. We had never been a part of a denomination or church network, so why join something after 10 years?
First things first. What is the Acts 29 Network? The vision of Acts 29 is to be a diverse, global community of healthy, multiplying churches. Right now there are over 680 churches in nearly 50 different countries. There is a lot of diversity in the network, with different regions, ethnicities, languages, denominations, and styles. Each church elder team remains autonomous, and each region of the world has its own network leadership, but we are joined together by a common call to plant churches. The network commits to teach clear biblical theology, to actively engage the culture, and to pursue innovation in our mission. The network supports churches and new plants through Assessment, Coaching, Training, and Support. There are only 28 chapters in the book of Acts, but God’s story continues!
All Acts 29 churches hold to The Lausanne Covenant Statement of Faith. Additionally, churches in the network confess and walk out five Theological Distinctives – convictions that Living Hope also holds near and dear:
- Gospel Centrality: The good news of Jesus Christ is the only hope for the world, it is the center of each local church, and it drives our mission.
- Sovereignty of God: It is only by the gracious and sovereign will of God that anyone can come to faith and find new life in Christ.
- Empowering Presence of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit indwells and empowers each believer for the Christian life and Kingdom ministry.
- Equality of Men & Women and Male Leadership: God created humanity, male and female in his image, and we are therefore equal in dignity and value. In reflection of Christ, men are called to serve as leaders in the home and church.
- Local Church Mission: The local church is God’s primary missionary entity on earth, called to spread the Gospel, make disciples, and plant churches.
So, back to the question of why Living Hope Church joined Acts 29 in 2017. As we approached our ten year anniversary, the elders began looking ahead to the next ten years. What was God calling us to do and be? How did we need to be strengthened? We identified five ways that connecting to a network could strengthen us for the future:
- Encouragement & Accountability: Through large conferences and small cohorts, Acts 29 has enabled the pastors and elders to invest in relationships with other like-minded leaders in Central PA and beyond. We meet throughout the year with pastors from Liberti Church in Harrisburg, One City Church in Lancaster, and City Church in Williamsport.
- Ministry Collaboration: As we connect with local churches, we have the opportunity to share resources and partner together. In Central PA, we are collaborating to train new church planters, and we are planning a joint men’s retreat in October of 2021.
- Conflict Mediation: Since day one, our Church Charter has included outside entities to consult in the event of irreconcilable differences and the need for mediation. Through our Acts 29 partnership, we now have access to trusted leaders with a shared philosophy of ministry. Thank God we haven’t needed this yet…but it’s there if we do!
- Church Planting: Our connection with the network gives us a strategic way to be involved and invested in church planting around the globe. We are committed to give 2% of all that we receive to support the network and another 8% to go directly to supporting new church plants. Additionally, through our partnership with Acts 29 we have developed and launched a Church Planting Residency to train and send-out church-planters right here from Living Hope Church! We were excited to have Ed Mejia join us in January of 2021 as our first resident!
- Long-Term Identity: Our hope is that God will be at work in Living Hope long after the current pastors are here. Our partnership with the Acts 29 Network helps solidify our core doctrines, values, and ministry philosophy into the future.
We believe that Jesus Christ and the good news of salvation in him is the only hope for our world. And so, Living Hope is committed to make disciples and plant churches. But this is not just our call; it is the call of every faithful church all over the world. That is why we partner with Acts 29.