Questions and answers

by John H. Armstrong

How did The Initiative begin?

In 1991 John H. Armstrong, then a pastor in Wheaton, Illinois, gathered several friends in his home to begin what became ACT3 Network. ACT3 was formed as a teaching and mentoring mission designed to help the church seek renewal and equip leaders for Christ’s mission. In 1992 John experienced the deep, inward truth of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17:20-24. This experience decidedly marked his life in private during until the late 1990s. It subsequently altered the ministry of ACT3 after 1999. The “cost” of following this vision for unity was very high. ACT3 suffered major personal and financial setbacks. But God faithfully provided just enough to keep it going though the years. On March 26, 2012, the entire work seemed to enter an entirely new phase of opportunity and blessing. Yet this “new work” was coming about at what seemed to be the “end” of John’s calling to serve with ACT3. 

Over the years John had repeatedly told friends and board members that when the time came he would retire and give up ACT3. He urged the mission to disperse the remaining funds, if any were left. Thus in 2016 John told the board, at the annual board retreat at Green Lake Conference Center (Wisconsin), that it was time to begin his process of retiring as president of ACT3. The board of ten engaged in a time of prayer to seek God’s direction. The result was a surprising visitation of the Spirit which led to the birth of The Initiative. 

In 2017 the board met at Green Lake once again to develop a covenant, a way of life and working principles for a growing a community from all churches. This community would take initiative for sharing the work of unity through the gifts we shared together. The Initiative held its first annual summer gathering at Green Lake Conference Center, June 24-28, 2018.  The purpose of this meeting was to share our vision, to build deep and growing friendships and to invite people to discern if God was calling them to become the members of this new community committed to the grassroots service of missional-ecumenism. Almost seventy people joined together to share and learn. We sought God and thus we plan to come back to Green Lake, June 23-27, 2019. When we gather again we will receive new members and begin growing and developing the work of The Initiative in every way possible. 

We will not have a single head or leader. This is why you see a starfish on our Facebook page and elsewhere. The starfish represents a new kind of mission, one that is not focused on a single leader or the gifts of strong personalities collectively leading a dynamic movement of people in community. We have strong leaders but our working dynamic is to grow in relationships that lead us together, not through the giftedness of only a few. 

When did The Initiative formally begin?

ACT3 was legally and formally changed to The Initiative, September 1, 2018. All donations and questions should now be addressed to The Initiative. 

Donations can be made on this secure website. Questions can be address to info@theinitiative.org.

You can also send mail and tax-deductible gifts to:

The Initiative
P.O. Box 88216
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Who will lead The Initiative going forward?

Currently The Initiative is made up of the nine members of a leadership council chosen by transition team from ACT3 Network.  This includes both men and women, Catholic and Protestant. Each is serving three-year terms. Some of these members will retire this year as three new member replace them. Most will continue until their term expires or they remain based on the election of the community. New members will be added as The Initiative addresses questions about leadership and beings to meet annually. The council of The Initiative will always be made up of members of the community. The founder is not a member of the council. 

How can I learn more about The Initiative and experience the life and spirit of this community?

You can sign up for emails on this site. These emails will inform you of our events, locations and times. We can also tell you if one of our members is near where you live but we do not have to identify a group in your area to begin helping you do this work. These online resources will introduce you to the work of The Initiative as it develops. 

You can visit our Facebook page. There is also a Facebook group you can ask to join. These allow members and friends to interact and see what we are doing and where.

Who should consider becoming a member or friend of The Initiative?

Anyone who has read our covenant and way of life, and then prayerfully desires to adopt these simple truths as an expression of their commitment to God and one another. (You can read these on our home page.) We discovered in June 2018 that most of those at Green Lake were already living missional-ecumenism. When John has met with friends to talk about this vision it often dawns on them that God has already called them to take initiative in sharing this vision of oneness and love with the whole church. 

The most important reason to attend Green Lake, June 23-27, 2019, is to get support from others and to enter into an intentional fellowship with Christians who are practicing our John 17:21 way of life. You do not have to become a member to attend any of our local, regional or national meetings. We invite you to prayerfully discern if God is calling you to join our community at some point.  But our membership is not exclusive in a way that limits non-members except in the decision making process and our family covenant meetings.

We have a number of persons who have made an initial and simple commitment to pray about joining The Initiative in 2019. You can add your name to this list, even if you were not at our June 2018 meeting. You should indicate that you want to begin praying about this commitment with many others by sending an email to info@theinitiative.org. Let us know you want to join with us in this prayer for discernment. We will need your name, email and physical address.