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One of my favorite movies of all time is Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous." It tells the story of life, love, and rock-n-roll during the mid-70's era. The central figure is a young man named William who aspire to be a rock writer journalist. In the midst of his self-discovering escapade he encounters a group of females who are star struck and overwhelmed with a feeling of excitement and anticipation for the evening's activities of song, dance, drinks, and friends. One of the girls cannot contain herself and exclaims, "It's all happening! It's all happening!" Perhaps with not as much enthusiasm and feminine appeal, but that sentiment about describes my feelings concerning The Resolved Church as I step back and look at all God is doing and what is ahead for us in the fall.



It has been a great summer which is winding down. We have had the chance to hang out...going to the beach, having BBQ's, going ski boat tubing, having church luncheon's, and an art show! It has been great to see many of you getting to know each other better and gain more and more of a heart for those who have not yet come to know Jesus here in San Diego. We have one more summer church activity, the Padres game, and then it's fall. There is a lot happening this fall.

First...We have a NEW WEBSITE! So feel free to poke around and check it out (www.theresolved.com). It is all CMS managed, now runs our e-newsletter and is easily updatable. Hopefully it reflects more who we are as a community and makes it a little easier for us to stay connected and get information about what's going on.

Second...We have new community groups coming! I have had the last three weeks off from preaching and have devoted much of my time to studying community groups in the Bible and in Chrsitian churches both now and throughout history. I will be preaching the next two weeks on how God intends for every church loving, Jesus worshipping, Christian to be part of an community group and what that is supposed to look like according to the Bible. There will be two main community groups this fall, one in my home and one in Ron and Kathy's home. Stay tuned for more information in the up and coming weeks on this.

Third...We have our final Romans series coming! Once September hits we will return to Romans for our final Romans series, "Viva La Vida Christus: Living the Life of Christ" from chapters 12-14. It's been three and half years we've spent studying Romans so far and I'm super excited for this timely series which deals with Biblical text which so vividly teaches us how Christian doctrine, theology, is meant to play out practically in the way we live our lives. Fall is traditionally a growing time for churches and I can't help but notice God's providential timing in regards to the teaching of His Word. For the new families and individuals moving to San Diego this fall, for the college students who are returning, and for the non-Christian relationships we have which are ripening...this is the exact series we all need to hear.

Fourth...We have a Finances Class coming! Gary Warkentin, one of our virtual elders, will be teaching a class this October on how to handle our finances according to the Bible. In a time when all of us are financially strapped due either to the state of the economy or to poor money handling habits in the past, this class addresses a crucial area for Christians to mature and grow in. The class consists of watch a short DVD segment, group discussion, and book reading assignments. For more information or to register: CLICK HERE

There are several other things going on...like our coming church plant meeting, a camping trip at the end of September, leadership development meetings, an expanding worship in music team, and our new approach to Sunday set-up/tear-down. We encourage you to keep track of our church calendar (upper right link "calendar") as it is regularly updated.

I love you all and look foward to living life with you this fall in our great city.
- Pastor Duane
"Discovering God's Way of Handling Money" by Crown Ministries

Gary Warkentin, one of our virtual elders (click here for a bio), teaches this class how to handle our finances according to the Bible. The class consists of watch a short DVD segment, group discussion, and book reading assignments.

There are more than 2,350 verses that address everything you need to know about handling money. The Bible is, indeed, a blueprint for managing your finances. Not only is Discovering God's Way of Handling Money practical, but in it you will learn the profound impact managing your money has on your relationship with God.

- What does the Bible say about borrowing and lending money?
- How do you evaluate financial counsel from others?
- Is honesty always the best policy?
- How can I know when to give to others?
- How are money and being a godly employee related to each other?

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The Allied Gardens Community Group which meets in at the home of Duane and Amy Smets on Tuesday nights kicks off September 16th!

For directions you can call (619) 393-1990

For more information about our community groups go HERE
The Allied Gardens Community Group which meets in at the home of Ron and Kathy Broersma on Thursday nights kicks off September 11th!

For directions you can call them at (619) 286-0749

For more information about our community groups go HERE
Conflict. When I was in high school, over 12 years ago now, one of my favorite bands was Conflict. Conflict was a punk band from the UK who stood for anarchy, autonomy, and nihilism. This was back before flat irons and hot topic. Liberty spikes were made with glue, a hand held iron and an ironing board. You couldn't buy belts or bracelets with spikes in them, so we took leather belts and hammered them in there with blood and sweat. It was good times. As I've grown older I've realized that conflict isn't just a band but something human beings are constantly caught up in.



When faced with conflict people tend to do one of two things, fight or flight. They either engage and let the fists start flying whether they be verbal or physical. Or they internalize and shut down and essentially run away. Neither of these options are good for the Christian person, whether it is interpersonal discord between two individuals or whether it is the clashing of ideas.

First the interpersonal. The Bible is clear that Christians are to love. We love our God and we love our neighbor. When conflict arises, and it always does, to either fight or flight is not love. So what are you to do when faced with conflict? There are four main things the Bible calls for in conflict:
  1. THE METHOD - You go to the person and talk to them one on one, "alone" (Mt 18:15-20).
  2. THE GOAL - When you go to the person, you go with a goal of restoring them with a "spirit of gentleness" (Gal 6:1).
  3. THE WORDS - While talking to the person you "speak the truth in love" (Eph 4:15)."
  4. THE RESPONSE - Regardless of how they respond, you are to be "kind, tenderhearted and forgiving toward them" (Eph 4:32).

Second the clashing of ideas. The Bible is clear that there is in fact truth and Christians are to know the truth. When conflict concerning what is true arises how are you to know if one position is correct and what position that is? What if there are two or more "scholars" who disagree? Four guidelines help us in this task.
  1. TRUTH - There is one true and right position on all matters, God's (Rom 3:4).
  2. FALSEHOOD - All untrue positions on all matters are of the devil (Jn 8:8).
  3. CERTAINTY - God desires for us to know the truth (1 Tim 2:4).
  4. SOURCE - God's Word is the truth (Jn 17:17).

Whether conflict occurs because of something happening in a relationship or over an idea or a mix of both, the way we are to deal with it is the same. We are to care for the person more than we care about the issue of conflict. We are to take positions on everything the Bible speaks and not allow ourselves to only believe things which the devil does not stir up conflict over.

Conflict occurs in our lives because we are sinful group of people who often do stupid things, think stupid things, or stupidly communicate good things. The easy ways out are either exploding into fight mode or retracting into flight mode. Christians have a new way to handle conflict. With love and confidence. It isn't easy, it takes time, it takes work, and it take guts both when working with a person and/or an idea.

May God help us as a church we strive to grow up in true biblical belief and love toward one another and all who are not yet a part of us.

- Pastor Duane
I am addicted to checking the free section on craigslist. I check it at least once a day, sometimes several times a day. There is all kinds of great stuff on there. Couches, copy machines, spas, sports equipment, typewriters, tools, TVs, books, baby clothes...Most recently I read about a boat, with a trailer!!! Completely for FREE! As I write this, the first three things in San Diego are as follows: "Free Working White Toilet" "Free Firewood" and Free "Mid 70's Dodge Commander Motorhome." This got me thinking, why is it we like things that are free so much?



Most things that are free are usually a scam, some trick to try and get you to spend money you shouldn't. But not craigslist. It's the real deal. The only problem is if something is actually good it goes quick. Just last week I tried to go get a surfboard advertised for free. There was supposed to be a surfboard and a whole list of other stuff for free. I got there only a few hours after the post and it was all completely gone...not one thing left. Apparently a lot of other people are into free stuff too.

Perhaps part of it is the simple fun of a discovery. We are all secret treasure hunters. Modern day pirates. We all wish there was a secret cave in our backyard with hidden treasures beneath. That is why everyone likes the movie "Goonies" and why everyone like things that are free. But I think there is something deeper going on.

I think it has something to do with the sin of works and our desire for the grace of Jesus. Maybe that sounds like a big jump to you, so let me break it down for you. Life is hard. Work is hard. We all know. Think of the best day you've ever had...who hasn't said on those days..."Man I wish everyday was like this!" We all wish we did not have to work. The problem with work is it takes a lot of toil to do. A lot of energy, effort, and struggling to actually produce something good that we like, want, and feel we deserve.

The problem is we all know deep down we really don't deserve anything good. We know ourselves better than we know anyone else and we know we are not that great. We know we don't deserve anything for free. Anything we get that is good we have to work real hard for. That's why our biggest desire is for things that are free. Because we are beings built for grace.

Grace. What is grace? Grace is something totally free that you don't deserve. In fact it is more than that. Grace is something good that comes on top of not just not deserving anything but actually deserving something different. It's like if you robbed the dude who's offering something for free on craigslist and he knows it and goes ahead and gives you his free boat anyway. I think our love for things that are free has something to do with our desire and deep down need for grace.

Grace is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. The gospel is the good news that while we were not seeking or loving God he came into the world to live life the way it is supposed to be lived. The way we haven't. And then Jesus went and died on the cross for the debt to justice we deserve for robbing God of his glory by living such irreverent distortions of the good life he created us for. The gospel at it's heart is something totally and completely free...it is the free gift of salvation in Jesus provided for all who trust in him, no work involved.

I believe we all like things that are free because we all know we really need Jesus. To work for salvation is just too much work. Who could ever do an eternity's worth of work except the eternal son of God. Jesus does that work for us and then gives us the fruit of his labor for free. So the next time you get excited about a free Nintendo on craigslist, think of Jesus and remember that you're very want and joy for something that is free is a reflection of your deep down need for his grace.

Much love to you all and soli deo gloria to Jesus the Savior.
- Pastor Duane
I don't wear a white collar and black robe or fancy suit, I don't do a whole lot of angry yelling, I don't have some ingenious scam to get people's money, I don't get off on telling people what to do, and I don't have some holier than thou complex...so I'm not sure I qualify by today's typical standards to be a pastor. I've been told people often wonder what it is I actually do all day throughout the week. So this entry is about what "the pastor" is and how that works out during a week in the life of Pastor Duane.



The Word "Pastor"

In the very beginning of The Resolved Church I didn't say I was a pastor because the main term in the New Testament for the leaders of the church is "elder." So I told everyone I was their elder and people just either laughed secretly in their head or gave me this really confused look because I don't have any grey hair yet. On top of it people started just calling me pastor anyway and I gave up on correcting them, went ahead and accepted the title, and now I even sign my email and journal entries "Pastor Duane."

I bucked against the term because the word "pastor" in it's most specific sense means shepherd and is a gifting not every church leader is or excels in. The pastor gifting is mainly one who leads by serving the church in counseling. For an in-depth scholarly Biblical treatment of this check out chapter 5 of my Master's Thesis: www.theresolved.com/downloads/ntevangelist.pdf

But in our day and culture "Pastor" just means a leader of the church, so I figured it was a terminology battle not worth fighting right now, and I hope sometime down the line that our cultural understandings will shift. For now though, it's fine. I'm "a pastor" of The Resolved Church and that is true and the term is fine and needed. It is important for us as a church and those who would partner with us here in San Diego to know that there is a "pastor" present.

The Pastor Scholar

Before I get to what my week looks like I want to point out an issue I think is important for our specific church and Jesus' church as a whole to know and that is pastors must be scholars. Our new Plural Elder document outlines in full the role and responsibilities of a pastor (www.theresolved.com/downloads/pluraleldership.pdf) so if you're looking for what Scripture says a pastor is to be and do then go there. My purpose here is to make a brief contention that in order to be and do several of the things Scripture calls a pastor to do the pastor must be a scholar.

By "scholar" I mean a learned man who is trained and able to converse and study on a high academic level. Titus 1:9 says a pastor must hold firm to sound doctrine and be able to refute those who oppose it. This means for example, a pastor must be able to read a commentary and understand it. He must be able to read historical and systematic and biblical theology and know what is being said and be able to contend with it on that level if need be. The pastor should be able to write a scholarly book that is print worthy with footnotes and everything. For if he cannot, he is not able to refute. This also means a pastor must know, be learning, and or know how to work with and translate Greek and Hebrew (the languages the Bible was originally written in).

This is what a pastor in Jesus' church has always historically been throughout the history of the church. It has only been within this last century that leaders in Jesus' church have allowed people to be pastors who have not been properly trained. Too often today it seems to me that many think just anybody can be a pastor. Perhaps this is why we have seen so much moral and doctrinal failures in pastors during this last 100 years? The idea that a pastor would not know Greek would be absurd to any Pastor who ever lived prior to the 20th century. Yet today, sadly it has become a rarity for pastors to know and use Greek. And lest you think, hey wait, wasn't Jesus apostles just simple unlearned fisherman? Yes, when they were first called Jesus. But don't forget, they spent three years in academic and spiritual training with God himself before he released them out on their own.

Okay, I feel better now that I got that out of my system. It's a good thing I'm not the pope of Christianity or I'd fire half the pastors in existence right now. But praise Jesus for his sovereign grace (Phil 1:15-18).

A Week in the Life of Pastor Duane

One of the most challenging things about being a church planter is you are the only paid staff in the beginning (if paid...I received next to nothing the first year and half), which essentially translates into you wearing a lot of different hats which may or may not be your primary giftings. You become everything from the preacher to the janitor.

Some things have changed, at least on Sundays. I no longer unlock and lock the building each week, make sure everything gets set-up and set-up right and then later gets neatly put away...but I handle the business relationship with the people we rent from, return phone calls to the church each week, get the mail at the post office and go through it, deal with about a dozen emails a day, upload last Sunday's manuscript to the web, make regular trips to kinkos for Theo 101 class or leadership development, regularly go to Evangelical to handle the books for our booktable, I handle the church calendar, appointments, food and materials for our bi-monthly family meeting, and deal with the printer for any printed materials we need...and all that is just the deacon work I do. Thankfully God is beginning to raise up and bring some other people along to pick up the slack.

My week is divided up pretty strictly. My week starts on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday are both days fully given to the church. I treat it like any other job and clock in at 6am. There's always a journal entry to write, a bi-monthly newsletter to write for outside supporters, phone calls to make and/or return. I try to get all my counseling meetings and administrative duties done on Tuesday, though it rarely works out like that. I typically have around 5 meetings a week with people, whether they be one-on-one discipleship, leadership development, pre-marital counseling, connecting with other pastor(s) in San Diego, or an Acts 29 regional meeting or assessment. On Tuesday I work until about 6pm in the office and then I either go to lead the Biblical Manhood small group or I have an evening dinner meeting either with a church leader, someone in the church needing some pastor time, or with a non-Christian I'm reaching out to. Tuesday is my longest day and usually ends around 9pm.

On Wednesday, my goal is to spend the entire day in deep study for Sunday's sermon. To see what I do during that time you can check my past entry on how I study (CLICK HERE). A lot of times I need to meet with people that can't on Tuesday, so meetings will often end up on Wednesday as well, mixed in with sermon preparation. I end my day on Wednesday around 4:30pm so that Amy can go to work for a few hours as a hair stylist at Say Lula Salon (www.saylula.com) and so I can have a date night with my daughter Adina. She is almost 9 months and we either go to the park, the mall, a toy store, the beach...and it is the highlight of my week! When we get home I get to feed her, change her diapers, give her a bath, dance with her, and then put her to bed. I love it.

Thursday and Friday I work for a measly $12 an hour from 6:30am to 4:30pm (two ten hour days) at New Alternatives, a group home for abused kids. But I get full medical and dental benefits for me and my family and I get to interact with non-Christians quite a bit. When I get home I'm usually emotionally exhausted and we have family time and I end up falling to sleep around 9pm.

Saturday is a church work day again and is sort of a catch all day. I start at 6am and sometimes have meetings, sometimes there are little administrative things I have to take care of...but my biggest goal on Saturday is to write my sermon manuscript and to spend a significant amount of time meditating and praying over it and the people in our church. Often this involves a few phone calls checking in with our leaders, planning for leadership meetings, overseeing the mid-week groups, and making plans for the next few weeks months for our church.

Sunday is another work day for me, after preaching, counseling after service, teaching class in the evening, and sometimes a post-class meeting...I am happily worn out at the end of the day. I sleep better on Sunday evening better than any other day in the week. It is my Friday (what Fridays are to most people).

Monday is my day of rest. I lock my office, phone, and computer up and take the whole day off. It's mostly a family day together, although I usually do get up early and go surf and read for a little while. On Mondays as a family we love to go to the park, a pool or the beach together...this year we actually got passes to Sea World which has been a blast. We usually BBQ or eat out somewhere or get ice cream. It's total atypical family action. In the evening after Adina has gone to bed Amy I and will usually sit and have a glass of wine and talk about Jesus. Monday is an awesome day. To read about the importance of a day of rest and why it helps me to be a better pastor check out this journal entry: (CLICK HERE).

Well, that's my week. Hopefully maybe that gives a few of you a little more confidence that I'm not just goofing around all week.

- Pastor Duane
This last week I returned from the Acts 29 Lead Pastors Retreat in Vail, Colorado. It was a great time to get away with my wife Amy and to be refreshed and ministered to by the Acts 29 family. So I thought I'd use this entry to talk a little bit about what Acts 29 is and what being a part of it means for The Resolved Church, where I am a pastor.



Introduction

Acts 29 is a network of churches committed the gospel and to church planting. There is no Acts chapter 29 in the Bible. The last chapter is 28 and ends abruptly with Paul shipwrecking on a trip to Italy and then ending up in Rome. The theme of the book of Acts is the spread of the gospel, the book follows the script of it's thesis found in Jesus command to take him and his message to "Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8)." It has been noted by several pastors and scholars throughout the years that the abrupt ending appears intentional from the author in order to communicate the continuance of the mission "to the end of the earth."

Ever since the days of Acts and throughout the history of Christianity the gospel mission has always spread through church planting. Thus Acts 29 derives its name from a commitment to continue writing the last chapter of Acts by taking the mission of the gospel to the end of the earth through church planting.

The two main spearheads of Acts 29 could be called theology and mission. Acts 29 is a network devoted to the sound theology of the gospel and the spread of that gospel. Currently there are one-hundred and twenty-nine Acts 29 churches representing over 29,000 people in five different countries. The plan and the goal is to plant another 1,000 churches in the next 20 years, spreading throughout all the communities and countries of the world.

What does Acts 29 do and what does it mean for The Resolved Church that we are part of Acts 29?

Assessments

As Acts 29 has matured it has become not an easy network to get into. There are over 200 applicants a year who go through an extremely thorough and rigorous assessment process so that as many churches as possible will truly be planted and not fail. Research has shown that 80% of church plants today do not survive. In contrast Acts 29 is leading the charge in successful and healthy church planting by being a network who cares a lot about the men who apply and don't just hand out money to anyone who thinks it might be cool to plant a church.

The assessments involve not only an extensive application including written papers describing one's conversion, call to ministry, and their theology...but also a DISC test, an entrepreneurial test, submission of a sermon, a full disclosure of personal finances and past sins, a church planting plan, personal references, demonstration of ministry experience and the hardest thing of all...an in person meeting with the potential planter and his wife with three or more current Acts 29 church planters who grill the couple with questions for two hours. After all that a potential planter is either "Recommended," "Recommended with Conditions," "Potential with Strong Conditions," or "Not Recommended." It is gnarly.

Part of my role and responsibility as an Acts 29 pastor has been to be on these assessment teams. What is good about it is you really get to know the couple and are usually able to discern where they are at with what God is doing in their life and the other pastors and I are able to come alongside and support them in whatever the next step is in pursuing God's call.


The Acts 29 Family

In many ways Acts 29 is like a family because there is a real closeness and love between all the pastors. I have personally grown to deeply love and rely on several relationships with the men in Acts 29. Church planting can be a pretty lonely thing at times because pastors are simply weirdos unlike anyone else on the planet. So it is good for the soul to have some other weirdo friends...who over the years really have become family. You experience this family aspect of Acts 29 in many ways, not only through doing assessments together with the other pastors but through an online forum, coaching, the yearly retreat, and regional meetings.

All Pastors who are accepted get access to a special Acts 29 online forum, where the pastors can connect and exchange of ideas, counsel, prayer requests and praise reports. Personally, time and time again it has been super helpful and encouraging to me.

In addition to the online forum, where all the pastors communicate, Acts 29 now also has a coaching program. For the last few months I have been coached by a seasoned pastor named David Pinckney from New Hampshire. This coaching has been very helpful in aiding me as the lead pastor to be the best pastor, focusing on strengths and weaknesses all so that our church will grow and be successful and healthy.

The yearly retreat is for the lead pastors and is paid for by Acts 29. The network covers the cost of lodging and food for the retreat. This is what we just came back from in Vail, CO. During the retreat you get to get away with your wife, hang out with a bunch of other pastors, and there is a guest speaker each year.

This year Gary & Betsy Ricucci both spoke. They are the marriage pastors at Covenant Life Church in the Sovereign Grace movement and the authors of "Love that Lasts." They charged us to love Jesus and keep him first and then to love each other and our family above all things, especially the church. It was super great to worship, be preached to, and be prayed for in small groups with the other pastors. We've returned feeling rejuvenated and excited for the next season of ministry in our lives together and in The Resolved Church.

The Resolved Church is in the Southern California region and I get together for a lunch with the Acts 29 pastors in our region about once every two months. In the New Testament you see direct relationships between the churches and the Acts 29 regional meetings provide a way for us to connect with our sister churches in the area both in ministry things we can do together and also in accountability, prayer, support for one another in any needs we might have.


Conferences

A couple years ago, Acts 29 developed a thing called "The Resurgence" which puts on events and puts out information to help churches and and individuals "live for Jesus so that they can effectively reach their cities with the gospel by staying culturally accessible and biblically faithful." In the past years Acts 29 and Resurgence has put on several theological intensives to educate and build up pastors and their churches covering topics like "Text and Context," "Dwelling in the City," "Continuous Worship," "Reformission" and several others.

I have been to several and each time they are challenging both intellectually and spiritually. It is my goal to go to a conference once a year and to take some of the leaders from our church along with me. The events always provide an invaluable direct result in furthering the ministry of The Resolved Church through the things learned at these intensives. They are like going to a seminary class all day for three days. Your brain hurts afterward but then challenges to immediately go and put some new things into practice.

Money

Unlike some other church planting networks, Acts 29 isn't so much about money but about the things worth more than money...relationships, family, good theology, and successful church planting. We don't receive any money from Acts 29 as a church plant and the one financial commitment we make as an Acts 29 church is to give 10% of all the money which comes in toward church planting. For The Resolved Church, that means we are saving 10% of our money for a future church plant out of The Resolved Church. Currently we have $2445 saved up for the time when we are ready to plant another church! We are excited for the day when God brings along the right dude that we can send out with money and a group of people for the mission of the gospel.

Up until now, Mars Hill Church in Seattle has been the main financial supporter enabling Acts 29 to exist and function. Presently as Acts 29 has grown, it has outgrown the finances Mars Hill Church continues to provide, which is a good thing! So the Acts 29 board, which consists of all pastors, has unanimously decided to give 1% of their 10% commitment to church planting, to Acts 29 and are encouraging, though not requiring, all the other Acts 29 churches to do the same. So this year, The Resolved Church will start giving 1% of our future church plant fund to Acts 29.

Doctrine

If you look at the doctrine webpage of Acts 29 it says there are four defining features to the network. First, we are Christians. Second, we are evangelicals. Third, we are missional. And Fourth, we are reformed. After those positive affirmations there is a whole list of things Acts 29 is not. I won't take the time to explain each of the above terms or note the things which we are not but just encourage you to go to the website and check it out. Within that outline the distinctives become clear (things like a family first focus and plural male eldership in church government), which are made known not for the sake of division or debate but so that men with like minds might gather together with a single hearted focus and passion for the mission of the gospel.


Conclusion

What is abundantly clear is that Acts 29 cares a lot about the two spear heads of theology and mission. Because of that some of the most well known Christian leaders, some of the brightest minds of today and some of the movement leaders of the past are now looking to Acts 29 as the next generation of Christians to carry on the gospel mission (The Gospel Coalition). I feel really privileged be a part of such a great network which truly seems to be on the cusp of what God is doing during this stage of human history.

Mark Driscoll concluded our retreat time together and charged us to be a movement which does not become a museum but stays on mission by holding on to the truth and holding on to it with humility. If we can remain a humble group of people we will be able to exert a lot of influence in this world but if gravitate toward power and control the movement will die and the museum is just around the corner. As you can tell if you actually read this ridiculously long post, being part of Acts 29 is a big deal and means a lot. Praise Jesus for bringing it about and may he continue to bless it as we charge ahead in his mission for the sake of his fame.

- Pastor Duane


LINKS

Acts 29 website: www.acts29network.org
The Resurgence website: www.theresurgence.com
The Gospel Coalition: www.thegospelcoalition.org