Acts 29 is a church-planting ministry once led by Matt Chandler – pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas – that partners with existing churches and gives them training and support to start new congregations. Prospective members are screened for core competencies; and if selected, they enter into a covenant with the Network to plant new churches, maintain theological integrity, and support the leaders of Act 29.
The Network has close to 500 member churches in the U.S. alone and dozens more around the world. But several churches have recently left the association, reporting that the ministry is compromising on issues, including critical race theory (CRT), lack of transparency, and theological drift on issues of biblical sexuality.
AFN discussed the exodus with Texas-based Christian radio talk-show host Janet Mefferd. "There was a video that came out from Acts 29 – and I did see this online at the time – and it had to do with Jesus and 'our beloved LGBTQIA+ friends' … something along those lines," she begins. [Editor's note: That video was eventually removed from the Acts 29 website with an explanation that it was "theologically unclear."]
Churches in Fort Worth, Texas; Boulder, Colorado; Bremerton, Washington; and San Jose, California have publicly split with Acts 29 in the last few years. Mefferd says another complaint is that the ministry has authoritarian tendencies.
"There seems to be a bit of a trend over the last decade or so. You have some other organizations that have become – I don't want to say dictatorial, but a little bit authoritarian in their approach to whoever aligns with them," says Mefferd.
Pastor Joel Webbon of Covenant Bible Church (Georgetown, Texas) explained in this video two years ago why he chose to leave Acts 29, describing a conference he attended on the issue of race as consisting of "emotionally manipulative" stories delivered by a panel of five black men associated with Acts 29.
"No white person [got] to talk," Webbon recalled. "You just shut up and believe. You just listen; no cross-examination, no questions – you just believe …. If you ask for statistics, then you're being oppressive."
Mefferd expects other defections to come out in the months to come. "Often what will happen when you have a movement of this sort that's going the wrong way, as soon as a few people take a step out, that will often inspire other people who maybe had been on the fence or were thinking about it but didn't want to make a fuss," she tells AFN.
American Family News sought comment from Acts 29 and four churches that have left but got no response before press time.