By Madeline Henners –
God has deepened and strengthened within me the conviction that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. It’s the truth that transcends all nations, all generations, all denominations. The truth of Christ is something to earnestly contend for and eagerly seek with all your heart.
The Lord called me to contend for the faith. That’s what Methodism’s founder John Wesley did in his day. He contended for truth and for the lost souls with that truth. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit so that we can contend for the truth even in the midst of the struggle we’re in and strife we’re facing. This is the time we pray together. This is the time when we call our church into holiness and accountability. We can restore greater order to the church, but if we don’t have the revival power of the Holy Spirit, we’ll still be stuck.
We have a rich spiritual heritage in Methodism. There are four characteristics of John Wesley’s ministry that we definitely need for the future of Methodism.
One is the charismatic nature of revival that even shocked Wesley. He didn’t expect it to rock his own view of God, but it did. When he experienced the Holy Spirit and people started shaking in conviction, it helped him see God’s work in a whole new way.
Two, Wesley was a fervent defender of the faith. In his dialogues with his Calvinist colleagues about the intricacies of our theology, Wesley’s engagement was marked by grace.
Three, there was a discipline of accountability to holiness and faithfulness. We cannot have a church without accountability. In addition to calling for our leaders to be accountable, we need to ask ourselves if we are personally accountable
Four, Wesley went to the people outside the church walls to share his faith. He went begrudgingly at first, but he went. He was astounded. Although doors to some congregations were closed to him, the call on his life was so strong he preached in the fields and saw the power of the Holy Spirit fall. And lives by the thousands were changed. Wesley travelled hundreds of thousands of miles across England on a horseback. Nothing could stop his mission of contending for Christ.
Jesus is always relevant. He is the only way for truth and freedom.
The only way we’re going to navigate the future of Methodism is when we ask, “Lord, what is my next step?” And not just my next step for me and my church but for us as a global denomination. For my brothers and sisters in Africa and in the Philippines. We’re a global connection. How do we navigate this together through discernment of the Holy Spirit?
Despite the pangs of anxiety, we need to remember that Jesus is still on his throne. He is not despairing. Instead, he is inspiring, empowering, and equipping us.
The Rev. Madeline Henners is an elder in the Rio Texas Annual Conference currently pursuing her doctorate at United Theological Seminary.