Yesterday I participated in a webinar that featured Rev. Luke Edwards from Kings Church in Boone County, North Carolina. Wow!
My brain has thought of so many possible ways to have church, and I have talked about my ideas with others in the church. But I am a cradle Methodist.
Cradle Methodists are born into the church via their parents, and have attended a Methodist church throughout their life. I am a product of that. But I am also a product of John Wesley.
The mantra that runs through my head, through my work, through my faith is the classic Wesley quote:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
Rev. Edwards is Methodist. Listening to his talk about Fresh Expressions, how it is implemented, and how it functions echoes that basic Wesleyan thinking.
The key to bringing others to Christ is relationshipswhich Wesley knew.
Being raised Methodist, I was also raised to be quiet about my faith. Now that seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? But being raised during the 1950’s through the 1960’s and graduating from high school in 1972, one’s faith was simply one’s business.
Still being quiet about one’s faith does not mean I did not rely on my faith. Our life centered on the farm, much less our farm was surrounded by cousins living on small family farms. We all were Methodists and no one argued about going to church on Sunday morning. We lived faith. Every meal began with a table grace. We knew to pray.
Fresh Expressionsis a movement and going to the website for the United States, one finds this explanation:
A Fresh Expression is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet part of any church.
Fresh Expressions is an international movement of missionary disciples cultivating new kinds of church alongside existing congregations to more effectively engage our growing post-Christian society.
Beginning in 2004 as an initiative of the Church of England and the British Methodist Church, the movement has resulted in the birth of thousands of new communities in the UK alone and brought renewal to scores of established churches. The movement has spread to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Germany. In 2010, the movement began taking shape in the US through the vision and generosity of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and a growing number of partners committed to a new era of missional ecumenism, a unity around the mission of God the Father through the resurrected Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. [Accessed on October 17, 2018 at https://freshexpressionsus.org/about/%5D
Rev. Edwards is passionate about the movement and openly explains that his work is Methodist. I believe Wesley must be doing handsprings for this movement.
The problem: I have lived my life as a quiet Methodists, not someone who goes around openly sharing about my faith whenever I run into others. But I should. I have to some extent for those who know me and that I have been trained as a licensed local pastor or who may know me personally. But I am so accustomed to and comfortable being a quiet Methodist, that I do not automatically testify about my faith.
I know, that is almost diametrically opposite of my professional life: trained journalist, English teacher, and pastor. I am good at talking/writing so why shouldn’t I be able to share openly about my faith.
Step in the internet. I am learning to do better. I do believe that we should live our faith “out loud.” And over the past ten years, I have.
Serving in the pulpit forces one to be open about one’s faith, but that does not mean we are comfortable outside the church walls. I am learning, and working to do better and the internet allows me a vehicle to live my faith out loud. Now I see that Fresh Expressionshas the potential to be a second vehicle.
Rev. Edwards referenced Jesus’ style of ministry: outdoors, walking with others, talking with others, sharing with others, teaching others about God. He was establishing relationships: Fresh Expressions encourages that.
We are tasked as Christians, regardless of denomination, to make disciples of Christ. We are to love God and love one another, as we want to be loved.
Those are foundational principles to being Christian. Being Methodist, Wesley’s definition of being a servant is foundational, too. Whether we are quiet Christians or loud Christians, we must do whatever we can to develop positive relationships with people in all types of settings.
I cannot predict what my spiritual journey will move into yet, but I have ideas that I want to work through in an effort to share the value of God in our lives. Whatever task I am called to do, though, hinges on Jesus’ commandments and his commission.
Today, I am opening up my quiet Christian, Methodist mind to the ideas that Rev. Edwards shared about Fresh Expressions. I am looking around my community and wondering where and with whom can I be out loud about my faith.
Maybe it is through the internet.
Maybe it is simply through written words.
Maybe it will be back in a traditional church.
Maybe it will be at the local library, restaurant, or beauty shop.
Whatever God calls me to do, I pray I hear him clearly and answer that call to the best of my ability. I may be quiet, yet I still am willing to learn to live my faith out loud.
Please join me in prayer:
Dear loving Father,
I know it is so easy to be quiet,
But all Christians are called to be loud.
I know your call to serve is private,
But be loud enough for me to hear and follow.
I know there are those who are quiet
But are seeking answers how to find joy in life.
I know there are leaders who are breaking out
And I pray that their Fresh Expressionof faith
Makes new disciples of Christ,
Filling their lives with joy and hope.
Make me an out loud Christian who joins
In any movement, any venue, any effort
That brings the lost to discover Jesus Christ.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.