In my first book, Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost, I write about finding Jesus in various church traditions. All 47,000 denominations; not to mention the twenty-four types of Catholicism or the distinctive churches found in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Church, who aren't organized by denomination.
Now, I grew up in a small town in northern Missouri. My family had our membership at a rural Southern Baptist Church. In the surrounding area, there were a number of other Baptist churches to choose from. A few of the Methodist variety, a small Episcopalian one, with the Presbyterians across the street. A Church of Christ, non-denominational, and the Protestant list goes on. The Catholics met in a landmark building. The closest Orthodox Church was more than an hour away in a bigger city. The Amish and Mennonites lived in nearby Jamesport.
I can blame many of my life-changing faith encounters on books I've read. The more broadly read I grew in theology, the more open my mind became to new ways of encountering Jesus. Enter social media and this amazing opportunity to interact with a tremendous number of new people worldwide. People that couldn't come close to identifying my small town on a map. Maybe they could find Missouri (look for the boot heel).
My long-held assumptions began to crumble as I listened to sound reasoning for spiritual practices like praying the hours, preaching through the lectionary, reading the early church fathers, etc. I became jealous. Plain and simple. Christ-followers were finding more of Jesus in ways I had never even tried.
A theory developed and I've tested it again and again:
Every church tradition has faithful Christ-followers in it.
I wanted to learn from them and I hoped I had a few things to offer myself. Facebook was good to me but twitter became my online theological home. For more than a year now, we have discussed church; theology, scripture, tradition.
On June 5th, I began a series in which I asked "What has XXX tradition gifted the larger Church?" The one rule was the answers had to be edifying, which twitter people are (mostly). You can find the results of this twitter series on my blog or using the hashtag, #GiftingTheChurch (thanks for the idea Pastor Daniel).
Day One - Methodist
- John Wesley (the top of the list for many).
Quote: I look on all the world as my parish.
- Hymnody - particularly those from Charles Wesley (ie. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus).
- Emphasis on Prevenient Grace (the grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation, is free in all, and free for all).
- Great strides in higher education (ie. Clark, Wesleyan, SMU) in addition to numerous campus ministries.
- Small group discipling; founders of Sunday school. Read about The Holy Club here.
- Founders of Pentecostal movement (ie. William Seymour (Azusa Street Revival), Charles Fox Parham, and Thomas Ball Barratt (Barratt brought Pentecostalism to Finland).
- Concept of both/and - social holiness and personal holiness in the sanctification process.
- Inviting women into the pulpit from the very beginning (ie. Jarena Lee, Sarah Crosby).
- Numerous hospitals and ministry among the poor.
- Prima Fida, Prima Gratia, and Prima Scriptura (encompassing the Wesleyan Quadrilateral).
- Leaders in abolition and women's suffrage.
- The John Wesley quote on the change God works in the heart through faith in Christ Jesus:
I felt my heart strangely warmed.