Friday, January 12, 2007

Going Back to Our Roots

In the healing ministry, it is typically one-to-one or in small groups that healing prayer is ministered. As a result of these intimate shared experiences, a "small group" identity develops. In reflecting upon this small-group identity, I reacquainted myself with the beginnings of the Methodist movement, and found inspiration in the following work by David Hunsicker:


The dynamics of small group interaction is the wellspring from which true growth occurs. It is the collection of individuals who share intimately what Christ is doing in their lives that creates a "buzz" that attracts others who are seeking. They see a certain "something" happening in the lives of the small group members that evokes a curiosity and longing to know more.

Are we creating and cultivating small groups in our churches that attract seekers? If not, we should be.


Tim Temple said...

Well, Marty, when I joined the Methodist church a couple of months ago, I read a book about its founder, John Wesley. What he put into practice organizationally made a lot of sense. It worked so well, the Methodist movement transformed several nations.

Today I look at the Methodist movement and it is not moving anywhere. John Wesley's organizational structure is mostly gone. I think those two statements are related.

First there were the "society" groups within the church. They met weekly at a different time from the church services. They were for fellowship, preaching, prayer and hymn-singing. These were a renewal movement in the main, Anglican church. Now I know they eventually got harrassed out of the Anglican church, but they picked up the best and most spiritual out of the Anglican church. Unfortunately, they became the Methodist churches. Not much loss, though.

The "Classes" were the big one. They were most like the New Testament churches. They numbered about a dozen members. The members met at least once a week. They advised, reproved, comforted, exhorted and cared for one another. They confessed their sins and temptations to one another. They collected funds for the poor and did social work. Reprobates were assigned to "bands" of 4 to 5 for accountability.

There were also "bands" for the more spiritually advanced. They additionally had to receive teaching from the Bible every morning, have private or family prayer every day, read the Bible and meditate upon it at all spare times, and fast every Friday. This is where lay pastors came from.

Occasionally, they would have a "Covenant Renewal Service" where members would remember God's grace and renew their covenant with God and one another. This renewed their vows and their bond of love.

Do you think the Methodist church would see revival again if these things were reinstituted?

--Tim Temple

Brother Marty said...

I see the reintroduction of small group interactions happening every day. You are so very on target in observing that it isn't the norm...but it is rapidly becoming the norm as more and more Methodists see that there is a falling away from our roots.

Small groups, seeking all the things you pointed out, plus the seeking of the Holy Spirit in prayer meetings, is on the rise. It is, unfortunately, not happening in the the institutionalized buildings of Methodism. But that is changing.

I'm so thrilled to be affiliated with people of a like mind that the status quo isn't worth maintaining. There is a renewed effort to get back to the basics of the movement that is empowering, and appealing.

I'm certainly not one to speak from a position of authority about our denomination, but am happy to be part of it. With all the vigor I can muster, plus the added power of the Holy Spirit, I am seeking to develop cluster groups, and evangelize to the lost, as was done in the early days. I only pray that my witness is one of invitation, rather than one of repulsion.

With all the compromises that are made in the interest of inclusion...sometimes there are compromises that end up being something of exclusion. I see these as learning experiences...and have hope and promise that we will, as the body of Christ, get beyond them.

I have faith in this combined witness through John Wesley, and hope for its future.

A Methodist On Purpose.....