Letter from the Elders

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Dear AC3,

When Jesus sent messages to churches in Asia, through John, he evaluated those 7 churches (Revelation 1-3). Maybe we’d assume that gentle Jesus would have nothing critical to say to a people he himself has bought by grace. Or, maybe we’d assume that the perfect Jesus could only see our imperfections.

In contrast to both assumptions, the message to those churches was not, ‘everything’s fine’, and neither was it, “Your failures are all I see”. Instead, Scripture says Jesus longs to lavish praise on the Church for our service inspired by grace – he says, “I see you”. However, Scripture also says, Jesus holds us responsible when we have not stewarded his gifts and grace his way, and says, “Yet I have this against you.”

AC3, the work we did with Vital Church this Fall has revealed some of these very messages from Jesus to us. First, Jesus sees some great stuff:

  • Jesus sees that we have clarity of vision and a collective heart to provide a safe place for irreligious people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.
  • Jesus sees that we have passion to serve the purposes of the Church and he sees you sacrificing time, talent and treasure to do it.
  • Jesus sees that we have upheld the lasting authority of his Word.
  • Jesus sees our compassion and desire to welcome the dispossessed.
  • Jesus sees our care for the next generation.
  • Jesus sees the authenticity we offer each other and the world.

However, just like those ancient churches, inside the 3 Core Issues our evaluators revealed, were areas where AC3 is not alright. Despite baptizing over 350 people in the last 24 years, our weekend attendance is plateaued and decreasing in the last 10. And there are areas where we can discern Jesus saying, “I have this against you.”.

  • Jesus said to us, you are too insular and you do not express warmth, you do not enfold seekers and believers into community like I want you to.
  • Jesus said, you are letting broken relationships linger which are creating a bitter root and affecting trust with each other.
  • Jesus said, you have not lived up to your own stated values, like the value of consistent excellence in how we present the gospel, like the value of serving in our giftedness and passion.
  • Jesus said, you say you want to love Allen Creek Allen, but you are not in fact outside these walls in relationship with, caring for, proactively serving and sharing the gospel with Allen Creek Allen.

This was the voice of the Holy Spirit through the data. Question: will you receive it as such? And will we all mourn our part in what Jesus has against us? Don’t raise your defenses against his voice. Don’t smugly think you’re above any ownership in these faults. It’s on ALL OF US. I’m calling all of us to sit with what God told us and find the place to mourn where you need to mourn.

Let us spend the next month before final report from vital Church comes, humbling ourselves. The Bible says, Proverbs 15:32-33: If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor. NLT

Honor is our future, if humility is in our present. Let us humbly receive the Lord’s correction.

  • This doesn’t mean, of course, that every suggestion that Vital Church gave us ought to be applied straight across. They would not expect that, I certainly don’t.
  • This doesn’t mean that Vital Church flawlessly delivered their feedback, since they are just people with their own biases and perspectives with limited knowledge of AC3’s culture and people.

So keep this in mind as you process: There is a difference between the data, the raw feedback which they mirrored for us which we MUST receive, and the tactical ways they suggested we address it. Before we think about tactics, I’m asking us to think about ownership. About responsibility. About repentance.

We’ll meet on Saturday, December 14th at 7:30PM for a Family Meeting to discuss it together. Comments and questions are welcome. Help us hear what God is saying, and what God is NOT saying by this diagnostic. Feedback to leadership before that time, is welcome too.

When the time is right, we’ll dream again. Re-vision is coming, AC3, and with it, times of refreshing from the Lord!

See you soon,

Rick and the Elders