Thursday, March 20, 2008

John Wesley Rides Again, part 3 of ?

More thoughts on the life of the great John Wesley, who in the 1700's traveled 250,000 miles on horseback, preached over 25,000 sermons and changed England. His heritage in our day and age includes the Church of the Nazarene, and local, innovative churches like Granger Community Church and the Church of the Resurrection.

  • He sacrificed his personal preferences for the sake of the mission: after 33 years of open-air field preaching to the unchurched, confessed that "To this day field preaching is a cross to me. But I know my commission and see no other way of 'preaching the gospel to every creature.' " Doesn't this challenge the status-quo thinking in our day that I should minister "where I am gifted and feel most passionate?" Mission is bigger than preference.
  • He thought big. His goal were to "renew the church", "spread scriptural holiness", "reform the nation." All of which he achieved.
  • He was a behavorial scientist. Always asking, observing, questioning to understand people--not foist his already developed opinions about what he thought was best on them (ouch!). To that end, he conducted thousands of interviews with people. I would imagine he asked questions like: "What do you need?" "What is the biggest hindrance to your life right now?" "What helps you connect with a sense of the divine?" What are the hurts in your life?" Then he listened.
  • He loved the truth: "Let us make a conscience of magnifying or exaggerating any thing. Let us rather speak under, than above, the truth. We, of all men, should be punctual in what we say; that none of our words may fall to the ground."
  • He didn't start with the powerful and influential. From his journal: "...preached at Haddington, in Provost D's yard, to a very elegant congregation. But I expect little good will be done here, for we begin at the wrong end: religion must not go from the greatest to the least or the power would appear to be of men."
  • He knew about incarnational ministry and being missional before it was a buzz-word: The Wesley's realized that any form of outreach had to "fit" a people's cultural form for them to "hear" the message at all. That said, he and brother Charles met people on their turf and sacrificed their own preferences and upbringing to do so.
  • They put the cookies on the bottom shelf: "The most obvious, easy, common words, wherein our meaning can be conveyed, we prefer before others, both on ordinary occasions, and when we speak of the things of God."
  • George Hunter says that much of Wesley's strategy can be broken down in these four maxims: (1)Preach and visit in as many places as you can. (2) Go most where they want you most. (3) Start as many classes (small groups) as can be effectively managed. (4) Do not preach where you cannot enroll awakened people into classes (small groups).

Many of these thoughts are from George Hunter's article on John Wesley the Strategist that can be found here.

3 comments:

Josh said...

I love the cookies on the bottom shelf. We do that for Cadence. We put the chocolate down there too. Which is why I prefer Refridgerators with the Freezer on the bottom.

The incarnation is God moving from the high parts to the bottom shelf. In a way Christ was the message of God...he became the cookies on the bottom shelf.

Wesley had it going on. He didn't necessarily have a great home life...but he did reach many people.

Did you hear about the holiness summit that is happening in ohio at the end of April?

Scott said...

Yeah, Wesley kind of botched the whole marriage thing.

And yes, I've heard about the holiness summit and I'm staying as far away as I can. I'm not an American holiness guy...and I have a feeling it's going to be just that.

Scott said...

Yeah, Wesley kind of botched the whole marriage thing.

And yes, I've heard about the holiness summit and I'm staying as far away as I can. I'm not an American holiness guy...and I have a feeling it's going to be just that.