A look at the relationship between Acts 29 and the EFCA. This post has an incomplete list of the known Acts 29 churches in the EFCA denomination. This also looks at the point man between the EFCA and Acts 29, Ryan Kwon. Ryan is on the Board of the Acts 29 network and the only EFCA pastor to do so. Also can a church straddle both the EFCA and Acts 29 denominations? Matt Boedy’s story of James Walden’s Riverside Community Church stands as a stark warning to stay away from Acts 29 churches in the EFCA.
“Leadership contains certain elements of good management, but it requires that you inspire, that you build durable trust. For an organization to be not just good but to win, leadership means evoking participation larger than the job description, commitment deeper than any job contract’s wording.”
“An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it. “
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV
Ryan Kwon of Acts 29
Ryan Kwon from EFCA One in 2013
There is some ground to cover as we look at the relationship between the EFCA and Acts 29. So let’s get started and look at a partial list of the Acts 29 churches inside the EFCA.
Acts 29 Churches in the EFCA
The Wondering Eagle is going through and creating a database of all EFCA churches in the 17 districts. I hope to have the North Central District out by the end of March. That said, I have discovered a number of Acts 29 churches that were recently planted in the denomination. This is an incomplete list. When I finish all 17 districts then I will do another post and re-visit this issue.
- Redemption Hill – Washington, D.C. as led by Bill Riedel
- Christ Community – Daytona Beach, Florida as led by Larry Kirk
- Restoration Church – Port Orange, Florida as led by Anthony Orzo
- Riverside Community Church – Columbia, South Carolina as led by James Walden
- Reasonate Church – Fremont, California as led by Ryan Kwon
- Anchor Community Church – Long Beach, California as led by Mike Gunn
- The Fields – Carlsbad, California as led by David Fandey
- The Vine Church – Madison, Wisconsin as led by Zach Nielson
- Redeemer City Church – Madison, Wisconsin as led by Casey Johnson
- Harbor Church – Honolulu, Hawaii as led by DeShannon Higa
- Mountainside Community Church – Reno, Nevada as led by Dawson Lange
Is Ryan Kwon the Pointman Between the EFCA and Acts 29?
Ryan Kwon is a key person in the EFCA when it comes to its connections to Acts 29. Originally from Los Angeles, California Ryan went to seminary at Talbot in nearby La Mirada. Ryan Kwon I believe planed and grew Resonate Church which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Resonate has two locations, Fremont and Hayward. Last year I was told by an EFCA Pastor in California that Ryan is one of the key players in Steve Highfill’s EFCA West. Ryan is training pastors and apparently the goal is to plant more churches in California that are between the EFCA and Acts 29. Ryan is on the Acts 29 Board of Directors and as of this writing is the only person from the EFCA on the board. Ryan’s presence in the Acts 29 is deep and prominent. In December of 2017 Ryan Kwon was featured in The Gospel Coalition article that looked at how how Acts 29 survived and thrived after the demise of Mars Hill. You can read that article in “How Acts 29 Survived—and Thrived—After the Collapse of Mars Hill.” In writing about the issues of Acts 29 I wrote a response to that article which you can read that is called “Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra’s Horrific Article at The Gospel Coalition About How Acts 29 Thrived After Mars Hill Ignores Many of the Issues in the Troubled Network.” I have a couple of sermons from Ryan Kwon in this post if you want to study his style. The one immediately above came from an Acts 29 West Conference in 2016. Then leading this post I have another talk that Ryan Kwon gave at the national EFCA One conference in 2013. If you want to read more about Ryan Kwon you can do so in this Christianity Today article and in a post at Greg Strand’s blog from a few years ago. If there are people formerly from the Resonate movement in the Bay Area that have any stories to tell or posts they would like to write I would very much be interested in speaking to them.
The Problem of Having a Church Straddle Both the EFCA and Acts 29 – James Walden’s Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina
There are going to be many problems that occur when you have a church that straddles two denominations. And yet that is what the EFCA and Acts 29 are trying to do. What do you do when problems develop? What do you do when conflict arises? Take for example the topic of child sex abuse, if that occurs in an EFCA/Acts 29 plant who is ultimately responsible if proper protocols are not in place? Is it the EFCA or is it Acts 29? The Wondering Eagle is aware of one such situation of conflict that happened in an Acts 29/EFCA church. Its Matt Boedy’s story at James Walden’s Riverside Community Church. Here is what happened in a condensed form. Matt was in a marriage that was struggling. During that time he also participated in a new EFCA/Acts 29 plant in Columbia, South Carolina. Matt after all has a history with the EFCA in Jacksonville, Florida. As Matt’s marriage was struggling he met with James Walden for counseling but learned in the course of time that James was in over his head. In the process of counseling Matt, James violated confidentiality and shared information with people outside the leadership team and with other pastors in nearby states. Word came back to Matt as confidential information was thrown around loosely. Matt then went to see a professional counselor about his marriage. James said that Riverside could cover some of the financial costs and Matt after thinking about it accepted. James then performed a bait and switch and invoked Matt’s membership covenant requiring that he still be “shepherded.” In the course of time the church demanded “oversight” The relationship between James Walden and Matt Boedy broke down. James refused to see any of his errors. After a church meeting that went poorly Riverside Community Church violated counseling practices and ethics by contacting Matt’s counselor. This bothered the counselor who proceeded to destroy the letter after discussing this with Matt. Matt in time faced excommunication for violating his membership covenant. Since Riverside Community Church was in both the EFCA and Acts 29 Matt worked up both chains of command. He approached the Acts 29 Southeast Director Brian Lowe. Brian came down against Matt, but that was to be expected because Brian was friends with James Walden and cronyism was occurring. On the EFCA side James approached the EFCA District Superintendent Glen Schrieber of the SE District. He didn’t find anything wrong, and when Matt took it up the chain of command to the EFCA president William Hamel allegedly threatened Matt with a lawsuit if he contacted his office again. I have written about all this and have the documentation all published. You can read them below.
- “Disturbing Allegations of Spiritual Abuse at James Walden’s Acts 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina.”
- “Matt Boedy on Evangelical Free Church of America Autonomy and the Need for Transparency.“
- “Matt Boedy on James Walden’s Alleged Ethical Violations: The Overall Perspective on the Evangelical Free Church of America.“
- “Matt Boedy’s Letter of Resignation to the Elders at Riverside Community Church.”
- “EFCA Southeast Director’s Response to James Walden’s Alleged Ethical Violations: Is Glen Schrieber a Tool of the Acts 29 Network?“
- “Matt Boedy’s Response to SED Superintendent Glen Schrieber; Next Stop EFCA HQ in Minneapolis.”
- “Who Would Jesus Sue? Did Former Evangelical Free (EFCA) President William Hamel Allegedly Threaten Legal Action Against a Spiritual Abuse Victim in Glen Schrieber’s District?“
- “An Open Letter to Kevin Kompelien (EFCA President Regarding how William Hamel Allegedly Legally Threatened Matt Boedy)“
- “Acts 29 Brian Lowe Responds to Matt Boedy and Riverside Community Church Situation.“
Here is why Matt Boedy’s story about Riverside Community Church is exceedingly important. Matt’s painful story stands as a warning to avoid a church that is both a part of the EFCA and Acts 29 denominations. I would steer clear of any EFCA and Acts 29 church like you would avoid cancer. If you run into problems you are on your own. The EFCA District Superintendent and Acts 29 Network leader for your area will not be able to help you. Glenn Schrieber’s disturbing behavior and the callous response by Brian Lowe exhibits why the EFCA and Acts 29 hybrid is a failed model. Quite simply it doesn’t work and it can’t work. In the end there is no authoritative body that can actually practice justice and do the right thing. All you have to do is go into the post above and read Glen Schrieber’s letter to Matt Boedy and you realize that it is a sham. Despite the fact that all these counseling organizations came down on the side of Matt and yet the EFCA through Glen Schrieber could not do the right thing should give many people pause. For Glen to close that letter back to Matt with the phrase, “May his peace, grace and mercy be upon us all” really shows the level of mockery that exists. Why? Because in the Bible God is a God of justice and Glen came down in an unjust way. When other situations develop in his district I am not altogether confident that Glen can do the right thing. So in reading all this let this be a lesson as to why you should avoid an Acts 29 church in the EFCA denomination. Those eleven churches up above, from Ryan Kwon’s Resonate to Casey Johnson’s Redeemer City Church in Madison, Wisconsin are to be avoided like cancer. Heed the warning…learn from Matt Boedy and the injustice and incompetence of Glen Schrieber. That is all for the day guys, know that you are loved.