Next week, I have the pleasure of joining a number of friends for an Acts 29 Bootcamp in London. Steve Timmis, the director of A29’s efforts in Western Europe, has invited me to come and talk a bit about worship and culture. I’m both honored and excited to head over.
Steve is sort of a hero of mine. I remember Tim Keller talking about Jesus’ words in Matthew 5, when he tells his followers that they are the salt of the earth. Salt in the first century was a valuable commodity – a preservative that kept meat from spoiling. Keller said that we are like salt – sent into the spoiling places of the earth to act as a preservative, to reverse the spread of the curse and cure souls with the healing power of the gospel. (Interesting that one way of referring to salt-preserved meat is “cured.”)
When I think of Timmis, and men like my friend Reuben Hunter, planting churches in a post-church world, where heroes like Owen, Watts, Wesley, and Newton once lived and preached, I’m overjoyed. Not because their efforts are dazzling and spectacular. Not because they televise long lines of baptisms and massive expansion campaigns. But because they’ve gone into spoiling places, where the gospel once flourished but is now lost. They labor faithfully, quietly, and humbly in places where their efforts aren’t welcomed and applauded.
I’m overjoyed because of their faithfulness, and I’m genuinely confident that the Word of God will not return void. I believe that their work is promising and hopeful, and I have a deep confidence in their ultimate fruitfulness for God’s kingdom. I also have a deep sense of foreboding. Right now, there is a culture gap between the US and Europe with regard to religion and secularism, but I don’t believe it will remain for long. Culturally, the US is marching towards European values and worldviews, and it seems possible that our mission field will look just like theirs in a generation or two. Once again, Timmis is an encouragement to me – he stands out as someone in the midst of that world who remains faithful to the gospel and confident in its ability to bring renewal.
Join me in praying for them and for the other pastors who will be attending the conference. Pray for me as I speak and lead breakout sessions, that what I might teach would be helpful, even as I’m learning from. And pray, as it has before, for the gospel to break out in the United Kingdom and beyond.