“METHOD-ist” – A Worthy Legacy?
How would you like to start a movement that people would describe as “Oh, he’s one of those “METHOD-ists”?
Some movements are built on a powerful truth – “Sole Fide” of Luther.
Some are built on powerful preaching – like that of George Whitfield.
Some are birthed by the power of God – the Welsh revival.
But John Wesley came with a simple methodology. He preached the simple, everyday gospel, gathered the repentant into small groups, gave them a Method to nourish their new found faith, and moved on. He developed methods that would require whole-heartedness to continue membership in these small groups. Then he revisited their communities constantly – traveling 250,000 miles on horseback in his 40 years of itinerant ministry.
These simple METHOD-ist meetings transformed England in the 1700’s and became an unprecedented movement in America. Within 50 years the Methodist Church was the largest church in the country, and had impacted every aspect of society – education, family life, theology, crime and unemployment – even the economy.
Was the term “Methodist” given as a derogatory descriptor? In our post-Modern society I think it would be. I sure would work hard to defend myself from such an accusation.
There is burning in my heart an apostolic passion for a church to be raised up in these Lozi and Toka Leya villages, that remains true to Jesus for hundreds of years! Jesus Himself put this passion in the heart of his disciples – “Fruit… more fruit…. much fruit… fruit that remains.” He put this same passion in Paul when he compelled him to turn around, half way thru his “first” (recorded) apostolic journey to return to the places where he had just Blessed some converts, to Build a Church.
What is the Master leading us to do? Make converts or build churches?
Some people say, “Neither!” “We are called to make Disciples. If we make disciples the church will be built.”
I agree – in part. We will never build a healthy growing church if disciple making is not our primary effort. But, we are not fostering solitary disciples who stand alone. Our objective is to make disciples who are knit together into a solidarity that can only be described as the literal Body of Christ.
Something in me groans when I see people going to serve in short term missions whose passion is to go into villages and love people, encourage them, share the Bible with them, and hope that they have imparted something wonderful into them before they leave – but they would sniff at our “Methods” of gathering DBS’s (Discovery Bible Studies), training leaders, investing into the proven leaders so that they can reach the lost. These methods seem so organized, so programatic – so human and earthly – how can they compare with the “Spirit led, spontaneous ministry”?
Of course there is more personal, immediate reward for making converts than making disciples who make disciples. But it is a short term vision. Fruit that (does not) remain. A seed that shoots up briefly, but never bears seed that in turn bears 2nd generation fruit.
Good friends of ours started their work in Zambia in a remote Western Province village. They came as short term teams for 4 consecutive years. Each year there were whole villages who got “saved”. Miracles and demons cast out. Indeed they had found a fruitful field! The harvest was white! So they moved here and began working to bring in the harvest. It was not long before they discovered they had been deceived. Their main leaders were stealing the money; the “converts” were merely hoping for the white man’s prayer to make some powerful juju. So they worked here for 3 years patiently working with new methods to plant an indigenous church. It is not easy. It is not immediately rewarding. But it “remains”.
Floyd McClung has challenged me to forget about Blessing in favor of the greater goal – Building. He has handed off his own life goal – to have a vision for fruitfulness that extends not just to the measure of my lifetime, but for 100 years! And I in turn want to pass that challenge off to my children – biological first, but spiritual children as well. This will be my legacy.
I am focused. John Wesley proved that simple, biblical “Methods”, combined with the transforming power of God, can help a young convert grow deeply in his faith and establish a movement of such zealots who are reaching others with the same simple, reproducible, methods. Our methods are studiously sculpted to be linked to principles – if you sidestep the method you are missing a vital principle of spiritual development. And yet they are so simple that any uneducated villager could duplicate them until they discover the “treasure buried in the field”.
So today, after 2 ½ years of sowing seed, we are gathering about 15 leaders in a weekly training meeting. We teach them a simple Bible study format – ABC – 123. Simple. Reproducible. Then we tell them – without reading – a crafted, memorized God Story – a select set of chronological stories from the Bible that display in living color, the gospel essentials. They discuss the story for comprehension. They discuss the story for heart application. They retell the story for memorization. Then they scatter into their 7 respective villages and lead their own Bible studies. But the fuel that is explosive is the one on one discipleship course we take each leader thru – but again, simple and reproducible – so they in turn can take it to others.
- Jesse, our intern serving in the House of Moses, has gone and we are sad. So are the children! Dena is leaving in 2 short months. We need another intern or two. Please consider coming to serve with us 3-6 months. Our greatest needs are administrative help, handyman, development/agriculture, or church planting (we will train you). However, if your greatest skill is couch potato, and you are serious to reform – we will even make you into a Champion for Christ.
- For people wanting to serve with us long term first go to CPX training in Cape Town South Africa, then come and join us.
- Praise God – we have been praying for 3 people to help us with $3,000 to allow us to finish our kitchen. One down! One talking about it. Keep praying…
- Praise God – Crossroads Bible Church gave a large donation for the construction of our first “staff chalet” and a cool interlocking brick making machine.
- Pray for another house mom for home 1, and a house dad for home 2. We want only the best, so they must be found and sent by God.