One of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes comes from the character Polonius in Hamlet. He says “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” While I have never been a huge fan of this tragedy, I can say that these words constantly ring in my head every time I stand to preach the gospel of Christ.
Many of the churches I have served have had male pastors during their history and my seminary preaching professor was a male. The truth is I have been called to a profession that is traditionally male dominated and must find a way to authentically be me while living into the expectations of those I am called to serve. It is an exercise that often feels like walking a tight rope. In the beginning of my preaching career I believed that if I were to lean too much in one direction, it would send me falling quickly to the ground.
In my quest to develop my own voice I have had to abandon that idea. It has not been an easy task, but I have sought out women who have achieved success as great preachers to mentor and nurture the call within me. In my early days I tried to imitate what I heard from other preachers but it felt wrong and left me feeling empty. I went through a season of trial and error. Over time I found my own rhythm, phrases and style which excited me and, more importantly, connected with the intended listeners.
For about two years I have had a female preaching coach, Rev. Dr. Twana Harris. Dr. Harris is young, experienced and gifted in preaching. One of the basic things we work on is finding me opportunities to preach. If practice makes perfect then we can stand to reason that providing young preachers the opportunity to preach in various settings will allow us to figure out who we are and be authentic in our delivery.
After every sermon Dr. Harris and I sit down to talk about the things I did well and things I can do to become even stronger. For many preachers the latter is the most challenging part of the process. It is hard to be critiqued so meticulously on something we have poured our hearts into. However, the drive to continue improving keeps us humble and receptive to feedback. In the end the most helpful thing for me is knowing I cannot please everyone. Early on my fear was how I would be received. A few years later, my concern is not running out time!
Today I can say that where I am now will not be where I end in regard to my authentic preaching voice. Over time I will continue to develop, tweak and refine my approach. However, I can say with confidence that each time I stand I seek to be fully me because that is who God called to such an awesome task. There was something within me that God thought special enough to use and I must be a good steward and use it.
So my advice to any young preacher: abandon all notions of what you have heard and to thine own self be true!
There are fifty-two, sometimes fifty-three Sundays in a given calendar year. When I multiply the twenty-five years I have been alive by the approximately fifty-two sermons I listen to yearly, and adding any other conferences, camp meetings, sermons I view online, the result is more than 1300.
Since the age of ten I have collected sermon notes of every sermon I have listened to partially because I am a nerd and I know it helps me retain the material, but more importantly I knew from a young age that I would be preaching some day and I wanted to remember how others preached. Sure, I have hundreds and hundreds of church bulletins and programs with notes I could reference to recall my memory, but when I think about it, I can only remember three or four sermons.
It is not that I can recall the sermons in their entirety; I remember how they were presented, and how they impacted the preacher.
I recall being deeply moved emotionally by the preacher’s transparency. I can picture sitting in the pew and realizing that I was not alone, and that the preacher understood what I was going through. I remember learning for the first time that transparency is a strength, not a weakness.
I believe that my generation and the ones to come do not want to hear the sugar-coated,
joke-filled, finger-pointing, “holier-than-thou” sermons. Our generations want to hear the “walk with us”, “remind us we are not alone”, “give us an example of how God helped you get through”, “how do you identify with that biblical character”, and “show us what grace looks like so we can extend it to others” sermons.
We are the generations in need of preaching that is transparent: preachers who are vulnerable, and authentic.
I will admit there have been times in my life when I have left a church service confused. The preacher would present a sermon that would consist of humor, illustrations, scripture, more illustrations, more humor and would send the congregants away with a challenge. The message was always clear: I understood the importance of loving my enemy or obeying my parents, but I never knew why the preacher chose the topic or how it impacted him. I would ask myself, “Why is it important to love my enemy, and has the preacher struggled in this area? How did the preacher navigate this difficulty?” I wanted to make a connection with an example that I could follow.
The three or four sermons I can recall are the ones where the preachers revealed their hearts and allowed us to walk the journey with them, informing us that we were not alone.
I remember the time when a preacher lamented over the sudden loss of her sister, connecting her grief with the prophet Jeremiah’s. I recall a preacher crying before the congregation urging us that “when God says ‘go’, we better go” because he experienced turmoil from his prior disobedience. I remember a preacher admitting his anger and sadness towards himself for ignoring a homeless man.
These preachers demonstrated that they are humans who understood what it is like to deal with the same feelings, emotions and temptations we do.
I received my call to gospel preaching through one of those transparent sermons. I knew that if she could use the gifts God had given her and vulnerably share her story and impact my life, I could bring healing to the lives of others by being transparent.
I have come to realize that as a preacher, I have a choice. I can choose to use the voice God has given me to be transparent, vulnerable, and authentic in front of my brothers and sisters, or I can pretend that I have everything perfectly put together. The problem with the second option is that 1) it is not truthful 2) this generation runs from the inauthentic.
If we, as preachers want to learn how to preach for a new generation, we must learn to be transparent before God and others. We must remove ourselves from the pedestals we have placed ourselves on and remember that we are humans in need of grace and community. Through prayer, reading scripture, and counsel, we need to ask God what would be helpful for others for healing in their lives, and preach for the generations embracing transparency, vulnerability and authenticity.
I have never been accused of being a faddish or trendy person. When I was in elementary school, my entire family made the mistake of jumping on the Beanie Baby bandwagon (I was convinced we’d be worth millions!). My bedroom shelves were crammed full of the things, and we ate about a billion McDonald’s kids meals to get the special promotion Teenie Beanie Babies (smaller=cuter, right?). Suffice it to say that I’ve learned about every lesson there is to learn about fads from my experiences with those little ear-tagged critters.
There is a connection, I think, between my family’s experiences with the marketing geniuses over at Ty, Inc. and the desire many preachers feel to “reach a new generation.” The connection is that both events are fads. In the 90s, Beanie Babies were all the rage. They flooded the market and spawned a host of imitations, but they ultimately left collectors with basements full of mostly worthless stuffed animals (the “super rare” Princess Diana tribute bear can now be had on eBay for a mere $30.00). In the same way, faddish preaching that only desires to “reach a new generation” is ultimately going to leave preachers with far too many social media accounts and a shelf full of dated books on “reaching generation [letter of your choice].”
When I was in college, I was a Classics major. We read Aristotle. Lots of Aristotle. Then I took a preaching class, and I read Aristotle again. I even took an introduction to communication studies, where, surprise! we read even more Aristotle. As much as I wish I could chalk this coincidence up to a secret cabal of university professors who wanted me to know more about Aristotle than my own life, I think I read so much Aristotle for a profoundly different reason: Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics form the basis for just about any kind of sophisticated human communication.
The ideas espoused by this ancient Greek are still relevant to modern communication, an idea quickly forgotten by a culture that worships at the altar of the new. Modern communicators are still concerned about Aristotelian notions like ethos (the speaker’s credibility and authority), pathos (the audience’s emotional reaction to the speaker), and logos (the speech’s patterns of reasoning). A full third of Rhetoric is dedicated to important stylistic advice that still influences the way we communicate. And if you’re a fan of careful storytelling in sermons, you should probably know that Aristotle’s understanding of plot still shapes the way we tell stories.
So, if you want to reach generation X, Y, or Z, put down your glossy new book on reaching generation X, Y, or Z, and pick up Aristotle. Or any good book on communication theory, really. And apply it to your sermons. You don’t have to be hidebound to ancient rhetorical criticism. Feel free to spice up your language, use modern cultural references, and address the real issues facing your target generation. But if you can only address those issues with 140 characters and a hash-tag, you won’t be able to reach anybody.
It is hard to believe that just over a week has passed since the inaugural Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church (INUMC) Festival of Young Preachers. The lingering impact causes me to reflect on the experience and imagine the possibilities for the future.
Hearing eighteen young preachers, ages 14 – 26, from all over Indiana passionately preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ leads to long term inspiration. You will have the opportunity to view these young preachers in action on YouTube in the next few days. More than ever, this Festival has given me new hope in two very key areas.
First, it has given me hope for the future of my denomination, the United Methodist Church. I am not one to brush statistics under the rug and act as if they do not exist. Research conducted by Wesley Theological Seminary’s Lewis Center for Church Leadership in 2010 found the following results.
On a very positive note, the study also found that the number of elders, deacons, and local pastors had increased in the last ten years. This is a reassuring observation, but this doesn’t mean we should become negligent in the endeavor to identify, network, inspire, and support young preachers and/or clergy. We must continue to utilize exploration events and campus ministries, but we must also embrace new ideas throughout the denomination.
The Academy of Preachers provides a perfect resource through signature Festival of Young Preachers events. This is not a theoretical concept that may or may not work. After assisting with the planning and implementation of the INUMC Festival, I am convinced that this is one of the crucial pieces to retaining people in my age group as they discern a call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as clergy or laity in the local church. I urge all annual conferences to consider the possibility of hosting a Festival with the assistance of others in the UMC who have attended a local or national Festival.
Often times, individuals in any age group may hear a call, a tug on their heart from the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel. Unfortunately, the reality of many is that they don’t have the opportunity or support system in place to become confident in their call to preach. As a result, these individuals begin to second guess their call and cease to preach, if they even get started. At every Festival I attend, I witness individuals who appear slightly timid at the prospect of standing in the pulpit. When they leave, however, they are ready to embrace their call as they have connected with a nurturing network of supporters and received the inspiration they need to perfect what they have been called to do.
The INUMC Festival of Young Preachers also gave me hope for the Church as a whole. I will admit that I am more in tune with the happenings going on within the United Methodist Church, but I have spoken with church leaders in other denominations who are experiencing similar situations regarding clergy and laity numbers. Festivals of Young Preachers are not a key solution for the UMC alone. I encourage ALL denominations to consider the impact that Festivals could have within your denomination as you seek to spread the Gospel to all people.
Editorial note: Tyler Best is a 20 year old college student who presented the idea of a Festival of Young Preachers to leadership in his denomination. The openness of the leadership and Tyler’s willingness to work toward the goal of an INUMC Festival has begun a movement of great importance.
Follow this link to learn what happens when a denominational conference opens up to the excitement of Young Preachers:
25 year old Xavier sits at his job all day, bored. He watches his dreams go by in a job that does not fulfill his longing for something with meaning. Sure he makes a decent amount of money, lives in a well-to-do neighborhood, and drives a nice car, but Xavier is empty. One day Xavier decides to leave, to follow his dreams, to take a pay cut. He doesn’t know where he is going or how he is going to make money but he does know that he is now on the right track…
14 year old Candice does not like school. Well, it’s not that she doesn’t like school, it’s just that she just can’t see the point of it. Most of the subjects won’t help to fulfill her dreams of being a photographer. So she just sits in class waiting for the time to pass, and dreaming about taking pictures…
One thing that can be said about Generation Y and Generation Z after them, is that unless what they are involved in is meaningful, they typically will find something new to do. Older generations often think that Generations Y & Z just can’t commit to anything and that they are lazy, but there is one thing that drives these two generations: meaning. If there is nothing of substance, if it does not get them closer to their dreams or aspirations, if it’s just to make money, it is not enough to sustain them. Meaningful living, following dreams, taking risks is what drives these generations.
When we look at preaching, and we critique what we do in the pulpit, we often fall short of proclaiming a meaningful Gospel. Some of our churches place most of their meaning in the liturgy, while others in moralism, but very few utilize the pulpit in a way that cultivates meaning in the lives of the hearers. Some people respond to preaching out of obligation to do a good thing, and so they get involved in church, get involved because that is all they know to do. But, Generations Y & Z will not get involved on their own free will, if the gospel message that we preach is not meaningfully relevant to their lives, if it does not enhance their dreams and aspirations.
The Gospel message must tell these generations that the cross of Christ frees them from Satan’s grips and propels them into the arms of a God who gave them dreams to fulfill. It must tell them that sin is what stifles their creativity, but Christ gives new life and great visions. They must know that sin makes them think they have nothing to offer, but Christ reminds them of the Images of God placed in them. Having morals and doctrine is needed, but our Gospel must compel these generations that their dreams, visions, and goals must encounter the living God to find true meaning.
Our Gospel must say that the lynching of Jesus, is the exact reason why your photography will help to eradicate senseless wars, that your coffee shop will help to eradicate hunger in the world, that your music will be the new protest songs, that your clothing business will offer living wages, that your law practice will look out for the least and the lost, that your clinic give great healing to all. Our preaching needs meaning. As Dr. Maria Dixon states:
“Our churches are dying because we have become crypt keepers. We preach messages of dead doctrines while extolling traditions that cannot be made relevant to our current context. We keep liturgies. We keep rituals. We keep archives. Yet we produce no new growth. We preserve the church—just like a grave preserves the memory of the dead. We willfully place God and the Gospel back in the tomb with our inability to live in the light of God’s love or testify to God’s grace.”
Preaching for the new generations must speak to the power of meaningful living. For these generations will not get involved and give of themselves inside the church unless they can see that the Gospel has meaning. I know some of us think they should just get involved because it is the church, but I praise God for their discernment, because they are showing us that we have become too complacent, and that we may not have anything to offer.
If this offends prove us wrong.
David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.
(1st Samuel 17:39, NLT)
A few months ago as I rode the MARTA to the National Festival of Young Preachers a friend and I talked about the changing demographics of the church. She shared how her pastors back home, once a month, hold church services Sunday evenings in a coffee shop where they feed a younger, “unchurched” crowd hungry to learn more about Jesus. A year earlier, I heard stories about churches who similarly took their ministry outside of Sunday worship and the four walls of the church. One in Philadelphia, PA set up shop outside of a popular nightclub and served hungry club patrons with free pizza printing bible verses and service times on their napkins. Another ministry in Atlanta, GA decided that “conventional” worship services were not enough anymore. They forwent normal worship and used Sundays as prayer time and agenda setting for a week full of localized service, community organizing and neighborhood restoration.
As I sat on the smooth, sight-filled ride to the heart of Atlanta getting ready to preach a sermon I asked myself, “What will preaching look, feel, sound and taste like for this new generation?” How does one preach in a coffee shop? How does one proclaim the gospel on a pizza truck to club goers at three a.m.? As we preach in our churches, how do we reach and hold in balance congregations filled with those who grew up in Sunday school their entire lives and crave something new, with those who do not know the story of Easter? How do we preach to a new generation?
When I think about preaching to a new generation, I think of a critical moment in the life of my namesake, David. In the beginning of the transition of his journey with God going from private to public, David is in Saul’s chambers preparing to fight the giant Goliath. Saul, in his desire to dispel this threat to national security and lead the Israelites to victory against their Philistine assailants, begins prepping David. He fits him with his armor. Saul, who symbolizes an older generation, tries to put on David what used to work for him.
His weaponry bogs down David. The hot, heavy helmet blurs his vision. His body is no longer agile and quick under the weightiness of the mail body armor. The heavy sword lessens the precision of his arms and hands. His steps go from controlled to cumbersome. David makes the hard decision that we as preachers for a new generation must make. He takes off the armor.
David’s mission does not change. He is still tasked with defeating Goliath and bringing glory to God. David’s anointing does not change. God is still walking and covering him every step he goes, as we know from the end of the story. What David realizes however, is that he cannot go about his mission and call the same way that Saul did. Referring to the armor David says, “I am not used to them”. Really, David is saying, “I cannot use something that is not relevant to me. I would be fooling myself to use tools that I have never used before. God has uniquely equipped me with experiences that position me to do this task.”
Part of preaching to a new generation means women and men of the gospel tapping into the gifts that God has placed in their lives. We should not try to imitate others but instead rely on the experiences and gifts that allow us to be a powerful witness to the saving, healing and restorative love that God offers the broken world we live in. Preaching to a new generation does not mean throwing tradition out the window. It does not mean forgetting the wisdom of Prathia L. Hall, Gardner C. Taylor, Abigail Roberts and Thomas G. Long. It means as David did, channeling the lessons and bravery of these vessels of God’s glory; continuing the work of gospel but retrofitting what we have learned with new tools and methods.
If David insists on wearing Saul’s armor, he loses the battle. What he does is scary and surprising to many, but it saves his life and accomplishes the mission. Our churches continue to be places where church folk meet, live, interact, and form community with other church folks. If we are going to reach a new generation: those growing up in the church, as well as those who think church is the last place they want to be or would be welcomed, we need to get rid of the fitting rooms. This means that we must resist the urge to fit a 21st century ministry and call from God with 20th century armor.
While our goal may be the same, we must be open to God’s voice leading us to new methods and forms of ministry. That may mean opening our church doors to people who our grandparents and parents kept out. It could also mean asking the neighborhoods and cities our churches inhabit what they need in order for church to be a place where they would see themselves. Not compromising the Gospel, but in fact heeding it, these efforts could go a long way in reaching new people for Christ.
I am optimistic about the future of preaching. The Festival of Young Preachers reminds me every year that whether it is in a pulpit, coffee shop, pizza truck or prison chapel, God does not change. The core of Gospel has not changed. We must make ourselves available to the move of God, resist the urge to flock to the fitting rooms and let God do the dressing.
Several times throughout the book of Revelation, we encounter the phrase “whoever has ears, let them hear what the spirit is saying to the churches”. Since accepting a full time ministry position with a four year old congregation I have found myself saying the same thing and wondering how to authentically preach a gospel that transcends time to a multi-generational church with varying degrees of understanding theological principles.
In working with youth and young adults I have found there is no topic that is off limits. Asking the hard questions and “keeping it real” is what speaks to this culture. Coming up with answers that are laced with biblical scriptures, often times out of context, or clichés void of practical wisdom will leave this generation walking out the door to find a more meaningful experience that will give voice to their present day realities. However, the church has a group of older saints who hold a very different, and often times traditional view of scripture. They are more reserved and private. They believe in literal translations of the bible and certain topics should never be taught, much less preached about from the pulpit. This is the challenge the emerging preachers are met with as we move out to fulfill our call to be gospel preachers.
Heiji Faber compares pastoral care to that of the circus clown. One of the things we must learn to do with great skill and ease is walk this tight rope of preaching if we are going to honor the sacred task we have embraced. In my two months of serving as minister-in-residence I have found two things helpful. First, my job as preacher is not to give people the answers. Rather, I have been called to facilitate conversations; conversations between individuals and conversations that take place within the individual. Authentic preaching will cause us to wrestle and push past our comfortableness to truly hear what God is saying to the church. These exercises will facilitate growth and growth moves us into deeper relationship. Secondly, the preaching moment is not the time to push my personal opinions or agenda. Instead I have been called to offer hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, strength to the weak and second chances to those who have fallen short of perfection. What I believe in the moments I stand behind the pulpit is irrelevant. I am called to illuminate God and the transforming power of the Good News.
So yes, preaching to this new generation and the Church is a difficult task. It stretches the preacher to grapple with questions that have no answers and forces us to admit we don’t know everything. For a seminary trained person, those are difficult realities, but its rewards are priceless!
BY AARON CARR AoP ’12, MDIV STUDENT, CANDLER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 NIV
I have to confess that I am deeply uncomfortable with the word “entrepreneur.” A few negative run-ins with business majors while in college – coupled with a deep sympathy for the Marxist critique of the whole Capitalist enterprise – has apparently resulted in rather ambiguous feelings about those business people who call themselves entrepreneurs.
So when I was asked us to write about “being an entrepreneur in ministry,” I didn’t know how to respond. It was obvious from the initial prompt that we were supposed to focus more on the pluck, determination, and imagination of an entrepreneur than on his or her specific role as a business person with an idea to pitch and a bottom line to meet. But it is difficult for me to divorce the charismatic connection-maker from the [business person].
Still, I was determined to stick to the theme, and to be only mildly critical of it, so I began looking for alternative kinds of entrepreneurs, people who weren’t interested in large profit margins but were still plucky, determined, and imaginative. The solution to my dilemma, it turns out, had been right under my nose the entire time.
In October, I recently began attending Berea Mennonite Church, a small Anabaptist congregation near the heart of East Atlanta. If the word “pluck” has ever been properly used in the history of the English language, it is when referring to this congregation. Over the past two decades – with plenty of entrepreneurial spirit – Berea has cobbled together a 9-acre farm, a significant piece of land that allows the congregation to live into an alternative economy.
For example, the congregation just asked my fiancé Leanna to come on board as their worship leader. Instead of providing her with a nice salary and an office, they offered her a place to live in the church’s basement apartment suite. When she gets up in the morning, she takes care of the farm’s chickens, and takes a few eggs back for her morning omelette. Or she can spend her afternoon working with the farmer and then use some of that produce in the evening meal. The church supports the farm, the farm supports Leanna, and Leanna supports the church. Instead of relying on the transfer of currency, Berea focuses on a different way of living, one that emphasizes abundance over scarcity and insists on a connection to the land.
But even when money does change hands, it does so in a different way. This summer, Berea will host a series of farm camps that will focus not only on the importance of sustainable food, but will also teach peace skills to the campers. The modest fee collected from the campers who can pay it will be immediately turned around in the form of scholarships for those kids who would otherwise be unable to attend. Instead of focusing on making a profit and then investing those profits to produce an even great profit, Berea is choosing to use its money to impact the real flourishing of human lives all around the neighborhood.
And all this talk of farming reminds of a time when Jesus spoke about a farmer. This man went out to sow his seed, but only some of it landed on the good soil. The rest of it was eaten by birds, choked by weeds, or failed to grow in rocky soil. Any way you interpret it, it seems that 25% is the success rate in the Kingdom of God, though that initial 25% goes on to produce a much greater crop.
What the parable is trying to communicate is the message that Berea is carefully attempting to live into: the Kingdom of God operates on different economic principles than the U.S.A. The parable of the sower seems utterly foolish to a “normal” farmer, just as Leanna’s living situation (which builds no home equity) or the situation at the peace camps (which produces no profit for the church) might seem foolish to those entrepreneurs who are concerned with the activity of every dollar.
Thus, if we are called to be entrepreneurs, we are called to do so within the economy of the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the world. We must be imaginative and creative and plucky and charismatic, but we must also embrace the lavish and foolish abundance that Jesus modeled for his followers. We must live into a different economy, one that is unconcerned with stock options and dividends but cares deeply about human beings and their flourishing on this earth. If we can be those kinds of entrepreneurs, then I might just be willing to leave all my hang-ups behind.
By Tyler Best AoP ’12, Religion Student University of Evansville
England may be a small country geographically, but it has a tremendous history of creative Christian witness. With that in mind I want to focus our attention on a distinguished native of England and his adventures.
It is rather natural to envision images of Mary Kay Ash, Bill Gates, Madame C.J. Walker, and Steve Jobs when we hear the word “entrepreneur.” These are honestly the names that have come to my mind, but just as these people have affected the lives of millions through their work, there is one individual who may have impacted more lives than Ash, Gates, Walker, and Jobs combined.
Whether you agree with none, some, or all of his theology, there is no denying that John Wesley had an entrepreneurial spirit that was contagious and transformative. When Wesley sought to spread the Gospel to Native Americans in an unknown place, everything did not turn out exactly the way he envisioned. In fact, it isn’t a secret that his endeavor in America was a complete catastrophe. Not only was he unsuccessful with Native Americans, he also had issues with parishioners in the community he served. His experience in America ended as he literally escaped the colony before charges could be brought against him.
Did Wesley cease his ministry endeavors after this failed attempt? Of course not! Sure, he was discouraged and unhappy from the whole experience, but it did not stop him. True entrepreneurs of the Gospel do not allow failures to hinder their eventual success.
Upon returning to England and experiencing a conversion experience on Aldersgate Street, Wesley began implementing several innovative ideas. Through obedience to God and the encouragement of people around him, he was able to effectively put these ideas in place. Chief among these was his desire to preach outdoors and reach people the Church had neglected and avoided for quite some time.
Just like any effective entrepreneur, Wesley did not build his movement alone. He also trained and sent out other lay preachers to take part in the very same activity. It did not stay in one place and become stagnant. Just as we see companies like Apple Inc. expanding into markets all throughout the world, we saw John Wesley using Gospel preachers to influence their world throughout England and eventually America. He chose people he could trust, people who captured the vision and I will acknowledge my belief that the effort has been quite successful.
It wasn’t completely acceptable to all the people around him. It is unfortunate that Wesley received opposition from leaders within the Church of England, but also close friends, that rejected his ideas. Obviously, this criticism did not hinder Wesley either.
These experiences are not relevant to John Wesley alone. Often times we allow what may be perceived as a failure (ministry related or not) to hinder our entrepreneurial and innovative side. We allow others to impede our Gospel-spreading effectiveness through negative attitudes. If you haven’t experienced a situation like this personally, you may know others that may have experienced a similar situation.
Be encouraged as you remember the determined attitude of John Wesley and help others do the same. What if he had abandoned ministry after his failure? There is no doubt that the world would be a far different place. Today Methodists number about 30 million people worldwide, but the impact goes far beyond simple numbers. All of this achievement is due to one man being obedient to God as he stepped outside his failure and used entrepreneurial skills to reach people in the name of Jesus Christ that hadn’t been reached before. As a result, many lives have been transformed and will continue to be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“I look upon all the world as my parish.” – John Wesley