Being a Nerd
History can shine some light on the path
I am reading a biography of Charles Wesley, A Heart Set Free, by Arnold Dallimore. I have read two other biographies by Dallimore, one on Susanna Wesley, and one on George Whitfield. The Susanna Wesley biography is one of my favorites, and is in many ways responsible for my dedication to reading 20 chapters of Scripture a day— it is what her father, Samuel Annesley did.
I am not too far into the Charles Wesley biography, but I want to say it is not just about reading a book on an interesting and important historical figure. John and Charles Wesley were at the heart of a 160-year revival, a definite example of multiplication of disciples and churches! And if I look at current multiplication leaders like Neil Cole and Ralph Moore, they are doing work very much like the Wesleys inaugurated: heavy emphasis on small groups and clear signs that people obey what they read in Scripture. But then again, that seems to be the course of great revivals, whether Lutheran Pietists or those early Christians who met in each others’ homes, eating with glad and sincere hearts, and devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching…
I have long thought that the best preparation for ministry is the journals of John Wesley, the journals and accounts of the earliest Methodist preachers (collected as Wesley’s Veterans), and I would add over the past 6 or 7 years, the Journals of Francis Asbury and the letters of John Newton.
Asbury, particularly, was one of the great multiplication leaders. He was constantly engaged in getting the resources of established churches out into the field, out to the edge, to the next homestead on the frontier. Imagine that: what if an ever-growing portion of your church budget went to the work of starting new churches? New places for new people?
I get it. We think that our first job is to make sure that our church is doing well, is adequately resourced. But I would challenge us: the smaller the amount of money going into starting new churches and launching satellite campuses, the less healthy your church actually is. Yes, it may be doing financially ok. People could be happy with its facility and ministry. When you look at periods of growth in the Kingdom of God, has it been when churches kept their dollars local? Or has it been when the church has been sending people and money out the door to reach new people for Christ?
This is, for the church, a motivation question. How much does the Great Commission mean to us? I understand it is natural to want to see the results of our efforts in the facility and among the people we love. But if Jesus says we are to go…
What if we oriented our thinking towards building up our home church so that it could send money and people to the places that need new churches?