I’m always pleased to find other United Methodists out there, writing about missional and even taking the lead in teaching others about it. So, I love what Gary Shockley is doing out in the Western North Carolina Conference and his post about the Early Church. Here he writes about five components found in that early, blossoming church movement and notes that there are similarities to the beginnings of the Methodist Church:
In AD 100 the church had about 25,000 people following Jesus. In AD 300 that movement exceeded 20 million. And get this- with no formal buildings, no elaborate committee structure, no professional clergy, and a culture constantly trying to kill it! How did they do it? There were five components:
- A theology and ecclesiology that boiled down to three simple words: Jesus is Lord.
- Disciple-making was the core activity. All growing movements are disciple-making.
- Incarnational mission meant “being” the grace-filled presence of Jesus wherever you were and whatever you did. Dualistic thinking (I am one person at church and another in the world) didn’t exist.
- Equipping disciples for gift-based ministry (see Ephesians 4) was practiced.
- Living in community was expected and accountability was normative. Church was a verb rather than a noun.
Sounds like the Wesleyan missional movement that birthed us! It’s in our DNA. …
Look at the list of five things again. There has never been a movement without all five of these working together. Ask yourself, “What am I personally doing to carry this missional movement forward? What am I doing to suppress it? What has to change in me (and in my church) for Jesus to have his way? Am I willing to pay the price?”
One of the areas I struggle is trying to bring all of these to the front when so much of our church structure and system has other institutional priorities.