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An Interview with Steve Timmis – how a ‘house church man’ came to lead Acts29 Europe?

28 February 2013

Steve Aug 2012I still remember the first lecture I had with Steve Timmis, he was in a raging argument on Luther’s view of the law with a man called Marcus after about 15 minutes of us starting our year on what was then Northern Cornhill.

Ever since then I have always admired Steve’s desire to hold tightly to the gospel being the centre of everything in, what is now called, Porterbrook Seminary. Anyway, Steve is coming to Dublin to do a conference with Matt Chandler on “church planting” this weekend and I had the pleasure of interviewing him recently on that topic.

(1) Hi Steve who you, what do you do & your most favourite thing about Dublin?

I am a 55 year old minister of the gospel. I became a Christian when I was 10 years old, and attempted my first plant at the tender age of 22. I am married to Janet, my childhood sweetheart, and we have four grown children and 5 grand-kids with another on the way. I am an elder in The Crowded House, Sheffield, and Director of Acts29 Europe. When in Dublin I’m bound to enjoy a pint of Guinness, but my favourite thing has to be the Irish brogue!

(2) Who have been your inspirations growing up, who do you enjoying reading and what do you do on a day off?

My inspirations growing up have to include Matt Busby, Bobby Charlton & George Best, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, (“Papa Was a Rolling Stone” has to be one of the best songs of all time), James Brown & Martin Luther King. When I became a Christian, movers and shakers of the faith like Luther, Calvin, Lord Radstock, the Moravians, the Anabaptists, Wesley, Carey, Spurgeon, Gladys Aylward and Aida Skripnikova. On a day off I enjoy spending time with my wife, seeing my kids, playing with my grand-kids, cycling in the Yorkshire countryside – basically enjoying the life and community that God has so graciously given me. I also enjoy keeping up with all the latest Apple products.

BC-PCd8CUAA0mNd.jpg_large(3) You are the European Director of Acts 29, tell us a bit about how that came about and what is the state of play of A29 in Europe now?

It came about through connections which The Crowded House began building up with like-minded churches in the USA, leading to partnership with A29 as an organisation. It was clear that we shared a vision for multiplying gospel-centred churches, and the desire of A29 to branch out into Europe led to the need for someone ‘on the ground’ in Europe to head up that growth. The experience I’ve had in church planting, our shared vision for multiplying Word-based gospel churches and, being European, my understanding of European culture led to my position as the A29 European Director. With almost 30 church planters and twice that in the assessment process, it is exciting to see God building his church in a very dark continent.

(4) The Crowded House which you co-founded is (traditionally) famous for being a network of small house-churches with a huge emphasis on community, mission and discipleship in the everyday. A29 is famous for it’s larger sunday-focussed attractional model of church? How did you come to be the director and does this create any tensions for you?

Ignoring the caricature, in both of these models, the driving force is proclaiming the gospel of King Jesus through planting gospel-centred churches which will grow to plant more churches. That’s the big picture strategy which we need to bear in mind. Our emphasis in TCH on community, mission and discipleship in small Gospel Communities remains the cutting edge of what we do, but we have utilise a large weekly gathering as a means of both encouraging our own people and as an open door for non-believers. A29 churches also have an understanding of the importance of day-to-day community for a gospel-centred church. Living and loving one another in the everyday stuff of life, in order to share the gospel, is simply Biblical. So Biblical churches will understand that and be working towards building that kind of mission through community into their co-orporate life. So, no, I haven’t experienced that particular tension. Our cutting edge is smaller community groups; for other churches, its the attractional meeting on a Sunday – whether by one or the other, Christ is being faithfully proclaimed and growing his church. I just want to argue that every church has to find a way of doing life-on-life together on mission in the everyday.

(5) Tell us some of the values and characteristics that you feel need to mark churches in major cities.

I think that if churches are going to be effective in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus in our major cities, we need to be living the radical lives Jesus calls us to. The early Christians living in Rome were distinct not because they bowed to Roman culture and tried to fit in, but because they went about actively loving one another and their neighbours in the name of Jesus. They were the people who looked after the outcasts of society. They were the ones rescuing the unwanted baby girls, taking care of the sick, opening their households to one another and giving dignity and value to human life. By their lives and words they showed their society another, better, way of living. If our churches today simply try to fit in with the culture in order to be liked and not make waves, what do we have to offer a lost and lonely world? It is as we stand as followers of King Jesus, proclaiming Kingdom values and living for his glory, that the darkness around us will see the light of the gospel in our lives.

index(6) What do you think are some of the big theological, ecclesiological and missiological questions facing the western church in the 21st Century?

There are quite a few key issues facing the church today, including thinking biblically about gender issues & sexuality, which I think are the two defining issues of our culture….In a society where church is increasingly marginalised, we must re-think how we engage with our society and proclaim the message of Christianity. Theologically, we must retain a distinctive and historic evangelicalism. It is all too easy to begin depending on other things: emotional response, our own efforts, great music, community, trendy words and phrases. Even as the Reformers broke ground in our understanding of justification by faith, believers today need to cling to that reformed doctrine in the face of our natural desire to save ourselves – whether by planting churches, writing the best new praise song, being active in our communities or experiencing new highs of spiritual experience. When we are steered by a core foundation of Biblical, doctrinal truth, we’ll be able to work out a biblical ecclesiology and missiology appropriate for the context we’re in.

(7) How can people follow you and what you do?

I’m an active tweeter, so you can follow me personally via @STimmis on Twitter.

You can find out more about Acts29Europe at

More about The Crowded House at: There is a page specifically about TCH’s connection with A29E at:

—-For the conference this Saturday in Dublin see

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