Acts 29 Chicago Boot Camp

Day Two – Small Groups with Pastors/Church Planters
*I am not posting my notes on this because it was for pastors & planters that were there, but here are some observations.

In 27 years of living I have never been challenged like I was today. It was great to sit around a table for 8hrs and just open up about ministry, personal life, theology and pastoring. Day two alone is worth the price of admission.

The day was filled with testimonies from pastors, church planters, A29 leadership, etc. Enjoyed & needed this very much.

Personally, I was stretched today by accountability, questions, love & a kick in the butt.

Pastorally, hearing other 20-30 something church planters confess that they are going thru the same trials I am helped so much. It is difficult to place into words what a “band of brothers” really means to church planters,those in the church who have never been a pastor will not understand the pressure, sleepless nights, budgets, backstabbings, lack of loyalty, second guessing by everyone & their grandma, and the list could go on…the point is that being in a room with 12 other couples who are all planting churches in Michigan is uplifting.

Practically, I love crossway books and I love to read. Being able to get into my hands new books, old books and hear old pastors (james Macdonald) young pastors (Kevin Cowling) is amazing.

Doctrinally, over the last two days I have shared lunch with hundreds of church planters who do not divide over secondary issuers…why? because they are secondary issues! It was awesome to sit next to guys that are more strict and less strict and that not matter…what mattered was Jesus and making the gospel known. Think about this for a minute and ask yourself about the last conference you were at bro, you know you heard what I heard…personal garbage. A29 was nothing like that.

Assessment, to join A29 is a hard process and one that I am grateful for. Not just any schmuck can join. You have to be assessed by other church planters and they are strict and say no a lot. I love this! A network/fundy college anyone can join is why there is such a turnover rate in ministry today. Sadly, too many are told by big name pastors that they should be in the ministry. The ministry is a calling by God, not a pushing by man. The assessment process is one of personal, family, pastoral, doctrinal, accountability, orthodoxy, orthoproxy, etc.

Final thoughts, I will be going thru the assessment process and will prayerfully continue my relationship with others in A29. The reason for posting all this is because I know I am being watched by God and by fellow classmates, pastors I preached for and by countless fundies.

  • My prayer is that you see that the church is bigger than your little circle you call the church.
  • My prayer is that you will love Jesus and not tradition, men and rules.
  • My prayer is that you will long for a passion for Christ and not service and man’s applause.
  • My prayer is that you will ask questions of those who tell you what the Bible means but don’t really do what the Bible says.
  • My prayer is that though I have been shunned by friends, family and a long list of pharisees, you will see that I have not made the changes I have made lightly, but rather after 5 years of wrestling with them.
  • My prayer is that you will see that I left fundyism, I left the inner circle, I left what many want so bad…affirmation and human applause.
  • My prayer is that you see my heart and know that I love Jesus.
  • My prayer is that you will lay down your pitchfork for just a second, put down your KJV fundy rhetoric for just a moment, and ask God why you have that disposition and what Bible verse says you can *only use your fundy music, *only use a english version by a Church of England pagan king, *hate brothers in Christ because they are different (Rick Warren), and the list could go on.

To end this two day blog, I want you to read a passage by Paul that has been paraphrased and referred to me by a friend and then edited by me, then you can pick up your pitchfork if you must and begin the stoning, I am used to it and consider any Facebook blasts, hate filled emails, and slanderous sermons preached against me a compliment to the change God has made in me and I do not boast in them, but rather pray to God that you will see past me and see the cross.

Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have as good as anyone:

Dedicated as a baby in a fundamentalist church, son of an Independent Baptist preacher, grandson of an Independent Baptist preacher, a fundamentalist of fundamentalists; as to the rules of conduct, I kept them to the letter (as far as anybody knew); as to zeal, a graduate of a fundamentalist college, a fundamentalist pastor, song leader and Sunday School teacher and uncompromising judge of those I deemed too liberal; as to standards in my music, dress, and language I was blameless.

But whatever gain and prestige I had as a fundamentalist, I now count as loss for the sake of Christ.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing grace in Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of my worthless fundamentalist accolades and count them as garbage, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

I am not against you, I am for you.

Please learn to love Jesus and lift him higher! If its still about the cross, then prove it…

let the redeemed speak louder,

pastor jon


Today is day 1 of the Acts 29 Chicago Boot Camp. Over the next two days I will be writing down my notes and thoughts. I will be posting more here on this page as I go. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, etc. Keikilani and I are extremely looking forward to being around gospel-centered church planters. Over the

past 3 years I have read so much and watched/listened to (everything) from A29, Mars Hill, and the Resurgence. I am like a kid on Christmas morning today as I type this out awaiting for what God has in store for me, His child.

For those you don’t know, A29 is a network of Church planters that are gospel centered and all about Jesus. For more about A29, hit up their site here:

I will post here updates from the day and notes from the sermons & lectures, and at the bottom of the page I will post my thoughts.

Day 1 – Thursday

Thursday Morning: up and running @6am. Last night with no kids was refreshing and we are both up and have enjoyed our breakfast together. We read the Bible together and read some of Church Planter by Darrin Patrick as a refresher. Very much looking forward to the day.


First Session: James McDonald – Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel

Pattern of Ministry

264 baptisms 6 campuses 17 services on Easter video

His goal is to stir, rally, tell us what he needed at our stage.

Acts 13

The power of living for mission know the pattern

There is a pattern for fruitful ministry

If you don’t get the pattern down, you will not get it.

The ministry pattern


The gospel is a truth transaction and requires verbal communication.

We are communicators of truth, it is on our lips.


The ministry is not easy. This is hard.


If you continue thru the difficulty. Press on thru the tough times. Stay!

You will give up a lot for the church.


Standing on the troubles and saying I beat you!


Never let yourself doubt that God wants to have lots of fruit from your life.

The fire will test each mans work and God will get be glory.

1a) the pattern in Cyprus

Read acts 13:1-12

Awesome story of Paul preaching, being called, a magician boy is blinded, and a man of intelligence believes the teaching of the Lord.

I am not going to quit. Say it daily. Even when opposition comes.

Be a team. Let the best speaker speak. Doesn’t matter you speaks, it’s the message that’s important.

Jesus, the messiah promised, Wrongfully killed,

Acts 13:38- The gospel frees you from everything.

Contrast: how’s the religion thing working for ya? Religion doesnt free you.

Jesus is the Christian life and the power to live the Christian life.

The people after hearing Paul preach urge them to preach again next week.

The next sabbath the whole city shows up to hear it.

Opposition pattern

-Intellectual arguments / contradicting what you say/do “well I wouldn’t do that if I was the pastor!”

-revilement / anger, hurtful language & actions and name calling “your an idiot”

Pattern in Iconium

The power of the gospel is in the heralding. It’s not in the persuading, or the culture-knowledge, it’s in the message.

The Jews poisoned the minds of the people, but Paul stayed longer!

The people were divided and stoned paul. But they continued preaching city to city.

Second session -Kevin Cawley – Redeemer Fellowship

My passion for you today is that you hide yourself in the person of Christ.

Psalms 18

What it looks like to be a hidden man (hidden in Christ, hiding behind the cross, behind Christ)

Do you understand what it means to be a man/woman hidden in your God?

We must come to terms with it. We must hear this word, because we are experts at hiding. We hide in other things: technology, people, things, family, pride, etc,

Hiding was born immediately after the fall. Adam & eve hid themselves from God. Before the fall they didn’t need to hide. They were perfectly under the care of God.

God hides them in his sons death on the cross. We are hidden in Christ because Christ covers our sin. We are no longer hidden in animal skins, no longer need to hide from God, but rather to understand that we must hide in Christ.

The futility of ourselves trying to hide ourselves alone is vastly understated & vastly mis-understood.

Psalms 62

What does it look like to hide in Christ when the wheels fall off?

Throw all your weight on Jesus because he can hold you. Everything else will let you down and fail you.

What hidden in Christ means personally: Christ is our defense, He is our strength, in Him I trust, He carries me through tough times. He is my identity. Comfort.

A question to ask to find out if you are hidden in Christ is: do you throw all of yourself on Jesus or do you have something hidden from God?

Your church can never hide you. No one can hide you but Jesus!

You cannot save face, you must come to Jesus open and vulnerable.

Hide under the hand of God, hide totally in Christ.

Your power comes from hiding in christ. Your zeal comes from hiding in Christ. You can’t lead unless your a hidden man. Pastoral ministry cannot hide you, family cannot hide you, being an alpha man won’t hide you. Only God builds the church and only God can hide you.

Be hidden in God. Find the peace, joy, love in hiding in Christ.

When your not hidden in Christ, the church doesn’t look good, it looks laborious and messy.

The main thing in counseling is to tell people: “I can’t hide you…only God hides you.”

People will come to you (me) and will treat you like the mediator between themselves & God and you must stop them and tell them only God can hides you.

The pulpit will not hide you, only Christ hides you! Only when you go to Christ and hide in him will you find any rest. Only then do you see the magnitude & beauty of your God!

When you hide in Christ you find stability, peace, joy, love, rest, time.

Third session – Bryan Loritts Fellowship Memphis Church

“Marriage” – Ephesians 5:22-33

Two foundational questions: Who am I? Where am I going?

What’s my direction? There is a specific call of God on our life.

God has naturally wired us to certain things & talents & goals.

Our call is to love our wives. God commands us as men to love our wives as Christ loves the church.

The bible commands us to love the church, the people are the church. God loves the church and died for her and we as husbands are to love our wives likewise.

Jesus is the center of my life not family, not kids.

3 keys

Principle of time

Everything of value takes time.

“be holy & without blemish”

Principle of selflessness

You can’t be an arrogant person and have a beautiful marriage at the same time.

“gave himself up”

Principle of cherishing

Warm, heat, to make hot, to turn on, to love, to smile with. Gentle, loving, kind. Valuable.

Your wife is not one of the boys, she is not one of the fellas.

“and cherishes it”

Men are cups, ladies are glasses. There are no big gulps in the china cabinet. You handle cups different than you handle glasses. Glasses are valuable.

Two points of application:

Find her love language

Know her capacity

Fourth session – Scott Thomas

Gospel centered leadership – II Timothy 1:1-2:7

We must be real leaders that call people to join us in the suffering of the ministry. (vs 4)

Shafer institute

90% of pastors fatigued

89 wanted to quit

77 marriage not good

75 poorly trained

71 burned out/depressed

23 are happy & content


1500 pastors leave the church monthly

50% of all marriages divorced

80% of grads leave ministry in 5yrs

Less than 10% stay in ministry for lifetime

Leadership points:

Lead after being strengthened by Grace

Lead by entrusting others

Lead by suffering

as a soldier, as an athlete, as a farmer.

Paul is stressing that we should pass on the gospel leadership by perpetuity.

Romans 8:16-17

“…Provided we suffer with Him…”

Share in the suffering, together, with Christ!

Fifth session – Darrin Patrick

“Community on Mission” – Acts 2:41-47

This passage is a picture of the church. It is the deal. How the church is supposed to be.
It is why you are here. It is why you work for nothing. It is beautiful.

It’s all about Jesus! We are the church.
Luke 1:3

The church exploded.

What happened? What we see is that in the bible and early church the people were filled with the holy spirit and the gospel was preached everywhere.

Persecution helped push the gospel everywhere. Today, we have little/no persecution here in the states. We have focused on the institution instead of people.

The reformation was a group of people shaking up the church and reminding peeps that the bible was centered in life and that the person of Christ was important and not the pope.

In the last 200 yrs we see a focus not on church planting but on church renewal. Church planting became synonymous with church splits.

All of us want bible centered gospel core community in our church, but longing for and having it are sadly two separate things.

Here’s the problem: some do church without doing it the bible way (acts 2)

Models of contemporary church
-teaching church (apostles teaching focus) pharisees
-devotion church (prayer, worship focus) feeling & experience seekers
-formal church (sacraments, liturgy, old-fashioned) anti-emotional & stiff, frozen chosen
-community church (relationship focus) very difficult 4 outsider to get in, family church
-seeker church (evangelism focus) new, relevant, cultural, attractive, lots of converts/no sheep
-social justice church (favor in the city) redefine the gospel, leave out the truth to help peeps

The biggest temptation to all these models is to be just one of them or a few of them. A big temptation is to come to a church to meet my needs, my wants. They will kill your church. Is the church about them or about Jesus?

If it’s about Jesus, it’s biblical community…if it’s about me & my wants than its pride.

We must point the gaze of the people higher! The focus must be Jesus!

By yourself you cannot do it.

Community is not about you, it’s about being together for a colossal mission.

Father sends the Son, Son sends the Spirit, Spirit sends the Church, Church sends the Community, Community is on Mission.

It’s not ours. It’s God’s church for the sake of the world.

My thoughts on Day 1:

Incredibly applicable information and awe-inspiring worship together with church planters. This goes without saying, but if you are reading this and have not been to an a29 event yet, you are missing out. If you are a church planter, you need this, if you are a Pastor you need this.

It was so encouraging to be around a group of pastors that weren’t pushing their secondary issues down my throat but rather promoting the name of Jesus and genuinely wanting to help churches plant more churches for the glory of God.

Harvest Bible Chapel is a great place and a great model for churches across the USA. If you have never been there, it is amazing to say the least. I have been in and around the states and seen quite a few churches and worship centers, Harvest has the blueprint down. Their staff and support teams (worship team was incredible!) were genuine and caring.

The sessions were doctrinal and applicable. This was not a hoot & holler nonsense conference, rather a community of pastor & planters together praying, together preaching & teaching. It was truly uplifting and both Keiki & I left better than we arrived.

Personally, I grew in many ways today. I made several decisions & was reminded of several decisions that I had forgot I had made in the past.

Practically, there were booths from vendors you would actually need as a pastor & planter. Crossway, Logos, Reformation Theological Seminary, Credos, etc. I bought several books today from Relit publications and another ESV Bible. 🙂

Relational, Scott Thomas and others from A29 were in the lobby answering questions and talking to everyone and anyone. It was refreshing to see some of the most well known speakers in the world talking to struggling and beginning church planters.

Friendships, I was able to connect to several pastors from Michigan who are reaching the unchurched and lost. This alone was worth the trip. It was great to talk to men & women who are going through the same struggles I am going through right now. Invaluable, priceless.

Instructional, the sermons and talks were not just pep rallies or prepackaged sermons turned into books and then into sunday school curriculum and sold in the lobby…the material today was actually stuff you & I would use and need in everyday life. This was not a pie in the sky conference.

Lastly, as I finish typing my thoughts from the first day I must admit that it was incredible to sing “My God is Bigger” today with several hundred church planters. Awe inspiring doesn’t begin to describe.

Tomorrow is day two and more round table discussions. I will post notes and thoughts on them as well. Blessings!

pastor jon

Day 2 -Friday Notes & Observations


Good morning peeps,

Enjoyed a wonderful day yesterday and now today we are kicking off a time of round-table discussions and church planter coaching. For the church planter this is invaluable. I have said many times that everyone needs a discipler, and this is it for pastors. Enjoying this time with my wife, enjoying time with pastors and church planters, and loving every minute of the sessions, music & fellowship.

I will post notes and observations here as I get them. I cannot stress how influential it is to be in a room with 500-700 church planters,singing praises to God…priceless.



Filed under A29

5 responses to “Acts 29 Chicago Boot Camp

  1. Chris Armer

    Thanks for sharing your notes.
    I liked the list of contemporary churches in session 5.

  2. Very impressive…..I am with you my friend! I know that sometimes people will question things (myself the most lol), but I am very proud to be a part of our church and to be you friend 🙂 Love ya Pastor Jon!!!!

  3. Neil

    I am glad you were challenged by the conference! Your friend, Neil

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