Give this piece a read. You’ll find plenty that makes you wonder if Coram Deo Church of Bremerton, WA is departing from Acts 29 or the Southern Baptist Convention.
Change a few names and the problems – as well as the lack of response – is all the same. Notice, in particular, entity leaders telling local churches that the church cannot know anything about the inner workings of the entity but are expected to keep funding the thing. Someone is publishing a playbook for evangelical “leaders.”
More from the piece:
We, like many other churches, have witnessed God’s incredible grace throughout this trying season. He has provided above and beyond all that we could imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
- We have seen people come to faith and have baptized over 50 people during COVID. (We are a church of 400 on Sundays.)
- We have been able to not only pay our bills, but we paid off our building during a pandemic!
- We hired an additional teaching Pastor who will be planting just north of us shortly.
- We have seen families grow in their love for the Lord in incredible ways.
At the same time:
- We were told by our Governor that we were not allowed to sing in worship.
- We have been investigated by our local authorities for not complying with their draconian demands.
- We have been chastised and attacked by other local churches and pastors.
- And most painfully, we have lost long-time members for our positions regarding gender, sexuality, and CRT.
And yet, our church has continued to grow in attendance, surpassing our pre-COVID Sunday numbers. God is good, and yet ministry has been incredibly painful. I know that our pain and experience are not unique.
It is in light of this experience that I am writing to you to express concerns that our elders have regarding the direction of Acts 29. As the year came to an end, we reviewed our annual covenant and watched the town hall meeting that was held in November. Each of our six elders had the same concern with the network: a lack of clarity. To be specific, we sensed a lack of clarity in the very areas that we believe are our greatest challenges, and therefore demand the greatest theological clarity. Those areas are CRT, gender roles in the church, LGBTQ ideology, and government overreach.
Over the past two years, these issues have come up time and time again. These are the issues that all of our churches are facing. The pressure to cave to LGBTQ ideology has never been greater. CRT is destroying and dividing churches. Never before in our lifetime have our churches been threatened by the State as they have over the past two years. The egalitarian movement is rapidly growing and many churches are giving in to cultural pressures. This is happening everywhere. Acts 29 churches are not immune to this.
As I sought to lead our elders through these challenges, I found myself hoping that Acts 29 would put out some helpful resources for dealing with this onslaught of issues. Certainly, the board would have something to say about Governors ordering churches not to sing. Certainly, the network will take a solid stand regarding human sexuality, gender, and roles in church leadership. I kept waiting to hear something, anything. But what I heard was silence.
Even worse, I saw our network promoting resources that were problematic at best, such as Jemar Tisby’s “How To Fight Racism” among others. Certainly, you are aware of how CRT is tearing apart both school boards and elder boards. There is not a more heated topic among Acts 29 pastors at this point. What is the board’s position on CRT? You can not avoid taking a position. If you say nothing, you communicate that CRT is not a pressing issue that requires us to address it, in which case you risk marginalizing those of us who believe CRT is utterly incompatible with our Christian worldview. If you stand against CRT, you risk marginalizing those who have embraced CRT, whose books Acts 29 currently promotes. Either way, you will risk marginalizing someone. We understand that. But right now, your ambiguity is doing real harm. This issue is dividing churches. It is dividing churches in our network. It is a sad and painful reality, but it is happening, and it will continue to happen until the board takes a stand.
Additionally, in a March 2021 meeting, Brian Howard announced a forthcoming revamped position paper on gender and church leadership. For some reason, (which to my knowledge was never shared), the old position paper was no longer adequate and needed to be replaced. I reached out to leaders about the status of a new position paper, but no one seemed to know that a new paper was coming. Then in November, it was announced that a new position paper would be unnecessary and that the old position paper that was submitted and adopted in 2017 was going to be removed. Why? In a moment of such gender confusion, in a moment when influential pastors, (such as Rick Warren), are ordaining female pastors, why remove a clarifying paper that faithfully and generously presented a biblical defense of complementarianism? Why remove this protection?
One more. And remember when J.D. Greear preached that “God whispers about homosexuality” and that his Christians should “count ourselves among the fiercest advocates for the preservation of [LGBTQ+ people’s] dignity and rights”?
Notice anyone on the Acts 29 Board who received this letter that is chummy with Greear?
December 13, 2022
To the Board of Acts 29:
Brian Howard, Matt Chandler, Hunter Beaumont, Donny Cho, and Vic Keller.
It’s the end of another year, and with all the churches in our network, we have been asked to renew our Acts 29 partnership. As elders, we do not take this commitment lightly. God has placed us in a position of leadership over our own church for which we are accountable (Hebrews 13:17). Whenever we enter a partnership, we do so not just as individuals, or as an elder team, but we do so on behalf of a local body of Christ. Consequently, we must consider our partnerships, especially those involving finances, with the utmost wisdom and discernment. It is with that in mind that we share the following with you.
In February of 2022, our elder team submitted a letter to the Acts 29 board sharing our concerns and respectfully asking for clarification from the board on some pressing theological and cultural issues. (We have included a copy of this letter for you.) To this day, no one from the board has personally or directly reached out to us in response to our questions or concerns. Even after sharing our frustrations with Dave Bruskas during a phone call in September, no one has responded.
Since then, other issues have surfaced that we would like to share with you.
As you already know, in a sermon that has since been seen by tens of thousands of people, Guy Mason of City on a Hill in Melbourne, Australia stated that “Christians can and must lean into the rights of those who identify as transgender.” Certainly, you have seen that sermon. That statement is deeply troubling. When I asked a question regarding this statement and the position of Acts 29 on our internal community site, I received no response. Nothing was said or shared by the leadership. A few months later, Mason preached at The Village with no mention, explanation, or defense of his previous statement. That was a statement in and of itself and many pastors in our network noticed it.
Again, Acts 29 and Southern Baptists elites are playing from the same playbook. Faithful churches are going to have to start doing the same.