October 2006


Yesterday I attended the Legislative Black Caucus Legislative Workshop at the State Capital in Annapolis. This was a great information session about what is going on in the state related to five areas: Health, Education, Business and Economic Development, Law and Justice and Environmental Justice. I attended three of the workshops and here are my take aways.

Health
HIV/AIDS is at epidemic propositions in Baltimore in comparison with other major urban areas
There is a need to increase testing in our prisons and jails
Health disparities along race and social class are predictors of high and low mortality
Automation within medical record keeping is essential
HIV/AIDS testing will be a major initiative for 2007

There were no discussions about the Maryland State Board of Health initiating a wellness effort. Pfizer, who had representatives at the workshop, has an initiative called Be Powerful. It is a wellness initiative focused on African Americans but the wealth of information that they are providing is available to everyone.

Education
Teaching to the test is frustrating for educators
Teaching in schools with disciplinary challenges and violence is difficult
Cultural learning differences are not addressed adequately from the state Board of Education
Lifestyle and living environment affect a student’s ability to learn and there is nothing that educators can do to overcome communities where education is a low value and priority
Maryland is in the top 5 SAT scores and AP class score
Economic status is an indicator of poor academic achievement in Maryland. The Board currently does not have a strategy to address this challenge
Drop out rates is a predictor of future earning potential and incarceration
The exit exam currently tests for basic skills. It is not rigorous enough for the students who are looking to compete with other students in this global marketplace but it is overwhelming for the economically challenged. I believe that a high school diploma should mean something, Attendance is great but achievement of basic academic competencies is more important.

Law and Justice
Charles Dutton said in a film that we watched, “I am confused about why we are at war in Iraqi for their democratic rights when the system here is broken. There are hundreds of felons who have served their time and they still do not have the right to vote.”

My learning points were:
Voting is a right not a privilege
People with voting rights are less likely to re-enter the prison system
Those ex-offenders who have earned back their right to vote are extremely diligent in utilizing their right

As a pastor attending these sessions I was privileged to meet many state delegates, representatives and senators. I was not a big name preacher but each of the workshop leaders made it a point to share their card so that we could discuss possibly collaborations, partnerships and joint ventures. Tutoring programs for non violent first time offenders and long term in school suspensions, programs to assist ex offenders to transition to the real world and health clinics are all possibilities for partnerships.

There are serious achievement gaps, incarceration inequities and health disparities that can clearly be seen across racial lines. Elections are coming up in a week. Those people who earn my vote will be talking about the issues and not each other. They will not be attempting to distract me by discussing who is a friend with George W Bush and who is not. No child Left Behind is not working, the war in Iraqi is floundering, Medicaid and Medicare are broken, the Republican party with all of its power is struggling with corruption and moral failure. Now that we know the problems the Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent who will earn my vote as a commissioner, senator or school board representative will be addressing the issues with some real solutions.

Praying for Solutions
Seeking Answers
Trusting God

William T Chaney Jr

Friday, October 27, 2006
Voice of the Day: Stanley Saunders
Imagine a world where the representatives of the greatest military power on earth are humbled by an unarmed healer from the backwaters of Galilee. If you can imagine this kind of world, you possess…an imagination ready to discern the reign of heaven.

– Stanley Saunders

This can be found at Beliefnet http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/godspolitics/2006/10/voice-of-day-stanley-saunders.html

Newsboys – He Reigns

I have just returned from an awesome retreat with Rev. Dr. Steven W Manskar. The focus of the retreat was his book “Understanding John Wesley’s : A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. Rev Manskar highlighted the Wesley Covenant groups and examined the Works of Mercy and the Works of Piety. This was shaped around Mark 12: 29-30 to form the Wesley Plan of Discipleship.

Mark 12
29″The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

This text formed the center of Discipleship and arrows pushed out from the center. Our first responsibility is to love God. No holds barred but this demands inward work. This is what Wesley calls the Works of Piety.

The Works of Piety are:
• Prayer
• Worship
• The Lord’s Supper
• Scripture
• Christian Conference/Small groups
• Fasting/Abstinence

Our inward search for understanding also demands an outward response which Wesley calls The Works of Mercy. The Works of Mercy are:
• Feed the hungry
• Clothe the naked
• Shelter the homeless
• Welcome the strangers
• Care for the Sick
• Visit the prisoners
• Be peacemaker
• Witness to Christ in the world

Wesley was writing about this back in 18th Century. He is the great reformer of the Anglican church but his radical practical theology of his time is the foundation to which Methodist have to return if the current trends that are contributing to the decline of the UMC church are to change.

Top three take always from this retreat are:
1. Institute covenant groups as the life blood of your congregation
2. Set membership and leadership expectations and enforce them
3. Return to table fellowship and the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis

Rev. Dr. Steven Manskar is the Director of Accountable Discipleship – smanskar@gbod.org, 877- 899- 2780. If you are a UMC Pastor struggling with revitalization or church renewal begin by studying the foundations of Wesley’s Movement.

Revitalized for the Journey

Rev. William T Chaney Jr
West Baltimore UMC
5130 Greenwich Ave
Baltimore, MD 21702
410 945 8397

Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith

Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr.
Dr. Henry H. “Hal” Knight III

Traditional views of evangelism are often intimidating and push the limits of personal comfort, leaving the job of reaching out to new and searching Christians for the professionals – the clergy of the church. Knight and Powe show how this basic misunderstanding is contrary to John Wesley’s view of evangelism, which he understood as a complete circle. Once one has been evangelized to and welcomed into the faith, part of the transformation of their lives includes Christ’s teaching, which is to help others to become welcomed in the faith.
The key to Wesley’s way of sharing the faith is to relate to others in love, compassion and gratitude for God’s divine grace. Knight and Powe’s explanation of evangelism is steeped in the Wesleyan tradition, exposing how God’s love and grace comes to each of us as we once received it, through the gift of proclamation. A true transformative act of evangelism is R.E.L.A.T.I.O.N.A.L.: Renewal; Enter; Listening; Acceptance; Testimony; Inviting; On-Going; New Beings; Assurance; Live-It. As Christians, we are not to keep the gift we receive through evangelism; we are to live out what we learn in community and study, by inviting others into this grace. Knight and Powe express that evangelism should not be viewed as an ugly word or act that most fear to live out, but as a way for one friend in Christ to welcome another friend in Christ to the faith.

Hot New Book

Divine Nobodies
By Jim Palmer

What does a Hip-Hop artist, Waffle House waitress, tire salesman, and disabled girl have to do with discovering spiritual truth? What if embracing authentic Christianity is a journey of unlearning? Welcome to Jim Palmer’s world!

Don Miller meets Anne Lamott meets Brian McLaren in this tale of shedding religion and plunging into uncharted depths of knowing God. Jim Palmer, emergent pastor, shares his compelling off-road spiritual journey and the unsuspecting people who became his guides.

“Perhaps God’s reason for wanting me,” writes Palmer, “is much better than my reason for wanting him. Maybe God’s idea of my salvation trumps the version I am too willing to settle for. Seeing I needed a little help to get this, God sent a variety pack of characters to awaken me.” For all those hoping there’s more to God and Christianity than what they’ve heard or experienced, each chapter of Divine Nobodies gives the reader permission and freedom to discover it for themselves. Sometimes comical, other times tragic, at times shocking, always honest; Jim Palmer’s story offers an inspiring and profound glimpse into life with God beyond institutional church and conventional religion.

“I am tempted to say that Jim Palmer could well be the next Donald Miller, but what they have in common, along with an honest spirituality and extraordinary skill as storytellers, is a unique voice . . . Divine Nobodies is a delight to read, and it was good for my soul to read it.”
-BRIAN MCLAREN
Author of The Secret Message of Jesus

“You hold in your hands an amazing story of a broken man finding freedom in all the right places-in God’s work in the lives of some extraordinarily ordinary people around him. You will thrill to this delightful blend of gut-wrenching honesty and laugh-out-loud hilarity, and in the end you’ll find God much closer, the body of Christ far bigger and your own journey far clearer than you ever dreamed.”
-WAYNE JACOBSEN
Author of Authentic Relationships

On the bridge of the Starship Enterprise Captain Picard and Number One can discuss strategy and maneuvers, course headings and evasive maneuvers but nothing happens until the order is given – ENGAGE! The planning is good, strategizing is important, research is necessary but too many people have brilliant ideas but they never engage the process of making it happen. Great ideas with out action are fantasies with no power. Ideas are only powerful when they are partnered with action.

I find that there are a lot of people in the church who have dreams of doing various ministries from serving the homeless to tutoring at risk children and providing shoes for children in Jamaica. I encourage them to write out their vision, pray for guidance, partner with their pastors and build a team to see the dream fulfilled. I will see these same people two to three years later and ask them about their ministry dream. After they get over the shock that I actually remembered, their response usually is,”Pastor I really never began to move on the dream.” What holds people back from engaging their ideas and fulfilling their dreams?

Fear – Fear of success and fear of failure. The unknown cripples and maims people to the point of inertia. Faith overcomes fear. Faith in your unique abilities and special insight. Faith in God who gave you the vision to provide the provisions for success and faith in the power of the idea that you have. (2 Timothy 1:7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.)

Fatigue – When people are tired from constantly living life at full speed they can rarely slow down long to change direction and engage their life changing ideas. In fact when they do slow down the first thing they do is sleep. When they wake up it is time to get back on the tread mill of life. (22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. 24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:22-25)

No Fervor – Without passion for moving forward, changing direction, improved circumstances or being sick and tired of being sick and tired people do not engage. They have already told themselves why something will not work or why convinced themselves of who they can not meet. The lack of fervor has killed many a dream and robbed many people of their greatness

So how do you ENGAGE?

Energize yourself – Exercise, Visualize and Mobilize. No one will be more excited about your idea than you will be

Negotiate your schedule. Make time to work on your God given ministry dream. Just like an appointment with the doctor take time each week to systematically pursue the dream. You will never have spare time so schedule the time

Gather research and best practices surrounding the idea. Contact people in similar industries. Go online, go to the library. You may have to dig but there is enough knowledge that is available and free that your ministry can be effective and you will not have to design it without a template

Anticipate – What are the possibilities, who will benefit from my idea, who would like to share the journey with me? Anticipate everything from your possibilities to your potential obstacles

Gather your team – All great events in history were achieved by team work. Sometime the team was behind the scene but there was always a team. Tell your story to friends, referred associates, Centers of influence and strategic partners. Everyone will not listen but all you need is for your team members to catch the vision

Empower your plan by giving them to the Lord. Plan your ministry and get started. Move forward as soon as possible. Get an accountability partner to help keep you on track. A body at rest tends to stay at rest but a body in motion tends to stay in motion – ( Proverbs 16:3 & 9 3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 9 The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.)

Rev. William T Chaney Jr

West Baltimore UMC

5130 Greenwich Ave

Baltimore, MD 21229

410 945 8397

7 Great Tips for Dealing with Conflict & Stress! 

 

Demanding lives will never be totally stress free — and that’s OK! Experts agree that the right amount of stress can fuel your energy level, creativity, and productivity.  The trick is learning how to operate at your personal optimum stress level, while protecting yourself from dangerous overstress. Attend any of our rewarding seminars coming to your area and gain the skills you need to take control of your life and reduce stress! 

 

  1. Take time for daily prayer and quiet time.  This will center you on God walking with you and handling the challenges in partnership with you. (John 16:33b In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” NIV)
  2. Eat for energy and focus. Use caffeine in moderation.  Fruit and water are more energizing than caffeine.
  3. Exercise, get up and move around. Movement clears your mind and helps you stay alert. Make sure you get your R&R. Avoid stimulants and alcohol at night. Practice consciously relaxing your muscles and clear your mind.
  4. Take plenty of good, deep breaths. It may sound simple, but focusing on your breathing can help when you need to relax, concentrate, or calm down.
  5. Get yourself in the mood with music. Classical music can boost productivity and harmony.  Keep a personal journal.
  6. Conduct a quick reality-check. Is this situation or pressure just temporary? How important is it? Are you over-reacting? Can you do anything about it? Learn to accept situations that you cannot control.
  7. Take steps to cool down a hot situation. When someone is looking for a fight, defuse their anger – listen without interruption, try to understand their viewpoint, find one thing you can agree with, ignore cheap shots, keep a confident, calm manner, and focus on something you have in common. (Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. NIV)

Spiritual Health: How do I get there? For all pastors and ministry staff and lay leaders, listening and discerning go hand in hand.  One without the other is futile at best and frustrating at the extreme. Listening for the spiritual need rather than the voiced concern requires that as the leader you are at a place of spiritual healthiness.  This is the challenge.  We all go through seasons of healthiness and being unhealthy spiritually.  What are some of the key elements of spiritual health?  What are some of the exercises that promote spiritual health?  What are some of the challenges to being spiritually healthy?  These are some of the questions that I began to ask and that I now would like to try and answer. 

Being spiritually healthy is modeled by the Disciples in Acts 2.  They were first totally submitted to the Holy Spirit and focused on the ministry that Christ had prepared them for.  Everything else took a back seat to their calling to live as Disciples of Jesus Christ.  This even meant giving up their personal agendas to meet the Heavenly agenda of their calling.  Instead of organizing their time and energy around their career they organized their careers around their calling.  For pastors and staff people this is easy but for lay leaders this seems to be a challenge or is it?  The text in Acts 2 suggests that the church met daily in the evening after everyone had been at work.  Work seems to be assumed and ministry was the next priority.  The first century believers did not have the many distractions that we have like blogs, email, television, telephones, cell phones and radio. The church also had a vested interest in making sure that the basic needs of eating and living essentials were taken care of.  Reorganizing our time around ministry can be inconvenient if our focus is on earthly agendas rather than heavenly agendas. The questions that we must ask about all of activities is, “Will this be beneficial to someone seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ?” or “Will this help someone to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ.”  These two questions will assist us in choosing the activities that should be most important to us.  Our priorities must be in the right order also if we are going to be spiritually healthy.  I look at the list in simple terms. 

  1. God
  2. Self
  3. Family
  4. Career
  5. Ministry

These priorities are my own and not necessarily what the latest survey would agree with.  We begin with our relationship with God.  Prayer, scripture reading, meditation, reflection and times of silence are all ways that we cultivate our relationship with God.  We speak to God and find time to listen to God speaking to our hearts. Setting a specific time and place each day to meet God is just as important as the other appointments on your schedule.  Being intimate with someone demands time and attention.  We want to cultivate our intimacy with God because God is not a spiritual bellhop to respond to our immediate request.  God is a loving parent who wants to be in relationship with us.   

Taking time for you includes exercising, setting and evaluating goals, pursuing a hobby or just being with yourself.  Evenings in quiet room, sitting on a bench by a lake or taking a prayer retreat are possible ways to take care of you. All of this and more is necessary so that you are physically, emotionally and spiritually ready to then help, take care of and minister to others.  Many people feel guilty about taking time out for themselves but it is essential have “me” time so that your reservoirs are full before you start pouring out to other people.  Being married, having children and working for other people all demand that we give of ourselves.  Our goal should always be to give out of our abundance rather than scraping the bottom of the barrel. Henri Nowen talks about this extensively in his book “The Wounded Healer.” Our priority after taking care of ourselves is our family.  This is the fruit of our intimacy with God.  We should be sharing what God is speaking to us in the family and spending time with the family so that they can see what God is doing through us.  Showing up five minutes before the recital and leaving immediately after the congratulatory hug is not attending your child’s recital.   To be at the soccer game physically but emotionally you are still at the job is not an effective way to let your family know that they are important to you.  Working in ministry as a lay person and as clergy demands that the barriers be discussed openly and honestly.  I will be at my child’s open house even if it means rescheduling the trustees meeting. Education is a high value in our family and the people who share the ministry with us have their boundaries also that need to be discussed so that everyone is honored in the process of doing ministry as a team.   

The next two priorities do not need a lot of explaining.  You need a career to pay the bills and ministry is what God called you to do.  In discerning our God Given purpose we should ask the question, “How is my calling and ministry connected.”  Rosalyn Satchel is an example of how our ministry is also our career.  She is the executive director of the National Center for Human Rights Education.  I know her as Roz, one of the most dynamic preachers of our generation.  Her sermons have always included a call to social justice and they been scripturally and theologically sound.  While we were in seminary together I always knew that she was going to be a great pastor.  God may still have that in the plans but to see her living out her ministry in the marketplace and not compromising her call is simply amazing.    While talking to a group of Life coaches who work with pastors we were discussing that everyone should have connect their ministry gifts and calling to their secular career.  Because this is so difficult as coaches we have ask the questions and provide the context in which our ministry team can discover their gifts and calling rather than us directing them into what we see for them.   Spiritual Health is affected by our entire being and everything that we experience.  Here are just a few quick ideas that can assist you to maintain the right focus and to be spiritually healthy. 

  1. Plan time each day for personal prayer, quiet time, and a weekly time for personal worship.
  2. Cultivate a positive outlook and attitude.  Guard against negative people and their attitudes. 
  3. Cultivate a passion for other people around you to be spiritually healthy.  The more you care about other people’s spiritual health the more you will realize the areas that you need to address for yourself.
  4. Memorize scripture as often as possible.  A systematic method of memorizing scripture will allow you to incorporate the Word of God into your life starting with the internal reorganizing and evaluation.
  5. Have an accountability partner.  He or she should be able to be honest with you and you have to be willing to be transparent before them. 
  6. Take a Sabbath day on a consistent basis and a Sabbath rest once a quarter to rejuvenate.

William T Chaney JrPastor

West Baltimore UMC

5130 Greenwich Ave

Baltimore, MD 21229 

MR. WESLEY’S GOOD TO GREAT STRATEGY FOR REVIVAL AND RENEWAL IN THE CHURCH

By Kwesi R. Kamau 

Rev Kwesi Kamau is the pastor of Amos Memorial CME in Los Angeles, CA and the author of A Passion for Christ, a Passion for Souls which can be purchased on Amazon

This fall I was given the privilege of facilitating a session at the Twentieth Annual CME Convocation.  The session, entitled “Dangerous Transformations,” dealt with developing and equipping Christ-centered servant leaders to be effective change agents for the Church.  This subject comes out of the charge from our 2006 Episcopal Address given by Bishop Henry M. Williamson, Sr., and the Quadrennial theme calling our church to move “From Good to Great.”  In preparation for this session, I thought it a good opportunity to explore how John Wesley himself participated in this process in his day.  The following are some insights that I found.

John Wesley’s Strategy 

For the purpose of our session (and this article), I have distilled Wesley’s strategy into four steps.  As I presented them, there are some basic assumptions I am making.  One, John Wesley’s intentions were not to create a “new church” – that is, a Methodist denomination – set apart from the Anglican Church of which he was a part.  Rather, his intention was to see his church revived and impassioned with God’s purpose.  Two, Wesley accomplished his goal to bring revival within the context of his church.  It is true that his contribution was never institutionalized with the Anglican Church, but that the church benefited from the Wesleyan movement is without question.

Step 1: “Christian Perfection” 

The first step in Wesley’s strategy was bonding with leaders who promoted a practical, abiding passion for Christ.  Wesley perpetuated this in the doctrine of “Christian Perfection.”  It was a much disputed teaching and very misunderstood.  Wesley himself struggled with expressing it at times.[1]  The basic premise was that God’s love could be perfected in our hearts at a point to rival the urges of sin.  In essence, being on fire for God rivals the burning of the flesh. 

Christian perfection was not a discipline or dry duty.  It was a driving experience that fueled the Methodist revival.  Let me say it again:  It fueled the revival.  Wesley spoke of benefits including maximizing your potential, experiencing divine and miraculous works, and, most poignantly, an enduring “happiness of the soul” – a peace and enjoyment of life in its fullness.  It was also not an achievement to Wesley.  It was simply keeping the love for God fresh through practicing acts of devotion.  These things included public and private worship, prayer, meditation on God’s Word, taking the sacrament of Holy Communion, fasting and other spiritual disciplines.  In a sense, practice makes perfect.  The practice of these as acts of devotion perfects God’s love in the human heart.  This process of “growing in grace” brought about a fulfilling spiritual experience that set people on fire and drove them to work for the kingdom.

Think of it.  Wesley was able to lead thousands of people into an ardent chase after God and helped them grow, not just in spiritual disciplines, but in spiritual character.  Without the passion of Christian perfection, I believe the Wesleyan revival would have had engines without fuel.

Step 2: Refocusing on Purposeful Ministry 

John Wesley’s second step involved engaging in need-meeting ministries like his open-air preaching.  In 1739, Wesley started preaching to large groups of miners that met outside the church.  At first, when introduced to preaching outside the established pulpits, he called this “almost sin.”  He was against it.  His friend, great revival preacher, George Whitfield, prevailed upon him and he realized the power of this method.  Eventually, he made it a major part of his evangelistic work.  He also targeted those in prison and needy children for significant ministry. 

Wesley, in doing these works, put himself and his reputation in peril.  He had cut across the grain in a church and culture where uniformity was almost as important as the doctrine as the Trinity.  Where he once felt open-air preaching appalling, he came to confront the brutal fact that the Church was failing to truly win souls and disciple people.

It failed to reach the miners who were written off by the status quo as vile and “not like us.”  It likewise failed to reach the disenfranchised and disheartened of society, sometimes even openly supposing them predestined by God to their lot.  As he matured, Wesley disdained the common reasoning.  This second step led Wesley to stop looking to traditionalism and structure and to start asking the right questions.  To quote a mentor and tutor of mine, “When one asks the right questions, the real answers come.”

Step 3:  The Good to Great Process: The Engine 

Organizations that want to move “from good to great,” must do as Wesley did thus far, developing a pool of passionate people and then confronting the brutal facts about their organization.  This process is outlined in Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, and is worth all our studying it.  For businesses, the next thing is to develop a concept that will make them extremely competitive, necessary and profitable.  Wesley developed a means to compete with the world and profit thekingdom of
God with new, maturing disciples of Jesus Christ.  Along with his need-meeting ministries, he and his brother developed new hymns based on popular tunes and musical styles.  They practiced something like quartet singing on street corners to hook a crowd for a message of hope.  John Wesley produced pamphlets on Christian doctrine in what was then “plain English,” making the truths of the faith more accessible to more people.  But the major concept Wesley perfected was the use of small groups to help people find strength in fellowship and encouragement for growth.  If the passion of Christian perfection was the fuel of his movement, the small group “class meeting” was the primary engine.

I find it amazing that Wesley was able to galvanize hundreds of groups that met regularly and effectively for long periods.  This warrants more study.  There is much we can learn from his methods (how the groups were started; how long they were held; what was done; what was the life span) and his struggles (what worked and what did not).  I am encouraged by the fact he did not “reinvent the wheel.”  His model came from a proto-Pentecostal group called the Moravians, who met in “bands” to spur one another on in holiness.  He joined them and did as they until he realized their method would not work with those he served.  Like many small group methods today, their bands were too intense and became more like “little churches” themselves than parts of the church ministry.   The class meeting differed by focusing more on encouraging the brethren than examining them and more on mentoring than teaching.  I am encouraged Wesley did not reinvent the wheel because it says, first, that he was not afraid to look at the models around him that work.  Second, it says he could discern reasonably how far a partnership with other groups should go.  What partnerships can we make, I wonder, with those having effective models that we can we learn and improve on? 

Step 4:  Wesley’s Lay Ministry 

Wesley’s fourth step dealt with how to sustain the growth of the movement.  It also corresponds with Collins’ good to great model.  The fourth step is about developing a “culture of discipline.”  From the mechanics of Wesley’s class meetings, many servant leaders were produced capable of driving the revival forward.  At first, he would look to the established clergy in his Church to lead in expanding the passion for Christ and his Kingdom.  When he would wait for them no longer, he yet again broke with established practice and did what was then unthinkable: he equipped lay persons to preach and teach.

Lay preachers met a leadership need in the Church.  With so few trained clergymen to minister to the burgeoning Methodist masses, he examined, educated and equipped men and women for pastoral ministry.  Lay preachers were examined through the mentoring process in the class meetings.  They were further examined by Wesley or his assistant both before and after they received their assignment to serve.  The great tradition of “passing character” for Methodist ministers comes out of this process.

Wesley trained local preachers, providing the largely untutored class with basic educational support and the rules of public speaking.  He met in annual conferences with these preachers and painstakingly went over issues, whether doctrinal or otherwise, point by point.  In training the lay preachers, he was not simply preparing them for their ministry, he was setting a “culture of discipline” for the movement to thrive.  A summary of Collins book states that creating a culture of discipline involves finding self-disciplined people who are willing to go the extra mile and giving them freedom within certain guidelines to accomplish exceptional things.  Through examination and education, he accomplished this and, then, licensed them to do the work.

Catching Up 

United Methodist clergyman and general officer, Charles Yrigoyen, incisively notes, “The challenge of the twenty-first century church is not to get back to Wesley.  We must catch up to Wesley.”  As we continue seriously in the process of moving from good to great in theCME
Church, it is important to me to see within our heritage a paradigm for this kind of change.  We must be careful that our conversation about change does get stuck in the mire.  The good to great conversation is not about whether we are efficient in our practices or effective at being CME – whatever you think this means.  You may need to change the way you see ministry.  Wesley shows us that true change is about meting and measuring our success based on reaching souls wherever they may be found and discipling hearts to maturity, where God’s grace and power can be seen in fullness. 

What about the passion for Christ?  What about putting aside the minor issues and solving problems by asking the right questions – even if this means cutting across the grain?  Some just want to talk about change.  Wesley shows us they are just distractions.  Will you simply talk and complain, or be one moved by a great love for God to meet the need and carry out the mission?  Wesley gives us a model of how to be radical and still be faithful to the Church we all love so much.  It is time to catch up.

Kwesi R. Kamau is pastor of the
Amos
Memorial
CME
Church (amoscme.org) in
Los Angeles, California.  He is the author of A Passion for Christ, A Passion for Souls: Encouragements for the Day (Xulon Press: 2003) available on Amazon.com.


[1] See his account of the development of his thought in his pamphlet, “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection” last revised in 1777.

 

Rev. Kwesis Kamau is the pastor of Amos Memorial CME and  the author of A Passion for Christ, a Passion for Souls   which can be purchased on Amazon

Next Page »