Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’



People have different ways of approaching reality. Some are analytical, reasoned, logical, etc. That’s not me. Not that I can’t be analytical, reasoned and logical. But those are deliberate disciplines that I practice; in contrast to my instinctive way of approaching the world which is through my feelings. I’m just a feeling kind of person.

Maybe too much sometimes. When people talk about having certain spiritual gifts I always say I have the spiritual gift of weeping – I cry at weddings and baptisms and movies. I can’t sing Charles Wesley’s And Can It Be without getting choked up. There’s just something about the words, “Amazing love! How can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” I’m not a very good singer, but I love to belt those words out. And then toward the end of the song when it says, “My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” I usually have to keep myself from jumping up and down during that verse.

Jumping up and down to Charles Wesley – go figure.

Not surprisingly, I resonate with Scriptures like Paul’s word in Romans 8 that God’s Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children; and with John Wesley’s experience of having his heart “strangely warmed.” That kind of gut oriented experience of the faith is foundational for me.

So one of the most disorienting moments of my ministry happened when I was approached by a young woman toward the end of a weekend of preaching who earnestly asked how she could really know that God loved her if she couldn’t feel it.

This was a Cornerstone Celebration weekend so she had heard me preach three times already and had been involved in my three-hour teaching session on sharing our faith. Now it was about 5 minutes before the last service was to start and she was desperate to know if what I’d been talking about all weekend long was really true.

Was it really true that God loved her enough to become human in Jesus; was it really true that God’s love for her was radical enough to involve passionate sacrifice. She was sure it was true for everyone else since they could feel it; but it couldn’t possibly be true for her because she couldn’t.

You’ve probably already guessed that I was getting all misty as my mind raced, searching for some way to respond. She continued that it wasn’t just about feeling God’s love. She couldn’t feel anything. Things had happened in her past and she had dealt with them by repressing, pushing down and blocking out any and all feeling within her. I have no feelings, she said and as I looked into her eyes, I believed her.

How is it that we come to know God’s love? Is it only when we feel God’s Spirit “bearing witness” with our spirit? Is it only when our hearts are “strangely warmed?” Is there more to it than that? If we’re not a “feeling kind of person,” does God not work in us and through us anyway?

I was really struggling as the woman patiently waited for my response. My heart was breaking and I was petrified that somehow I would compound her pain. That in my bumbling I would somehow contribute to her certainty that God couldn’t possibly love her since she wasn’t able to feel it.

Way back in the mid-400′s Patrick began preaching in Ireland. He traveled from settlement to settlement, staying with the people, loving them and working among them. Through his ministry, monastic communities sprang up. These communities were different from what we normally think of when we think of monastic communities where monks separated themselves from the rest of society for a life of solitude and prayer. These were communities of committed Christ followers who lived and worked together, sharing resources, love and life together. There were men and women, adults and kids; some were single, some were married, some had families – some were priests but most weren’t, and they were all together in community.

One of the things that made these communities so cool was the way they treated outsiders. There was always a gatekeeper – not to keep anybody out – but to be on duty all the time so that anyone who wanted to come in could come in – no matter what time of the day or night it was. If you visited the community the gate keeper would welcome you first and then call everyone to come greet you. The abbot or abbess (head of the community) would immediately come out to make sure you felt at home. It wouldn’t matter what people were doing, they would stop because making guests feel welcome was more important than anything else. Then they’d show you to the guest house – the best accommodations in the whole place. When it was time to eat, you’d eat at the head table with the abbot/abbess. It would be clear that you could stay as long as you wanted, but you were also free to leave at any time. You could eat with the community, work with the community, worship with the community – always welcome to share in everything about the community. If you stayed for a while they’d assign you a ‘soul friend’ to talk to – no agenda – just about whatever was on your mind. Eventually, if you continued to stay they’d talk to you about God’s love and offer you the opportunity to become more than a guest.

It was a slow process of revealing God’s love; a process that started with the concept of belonging and acceptance and moved only gradually toward commitment. It was a process that took time because it was about providing evidence of God’s love. Not evidence in the form of skilled argument or tight logic; not even the evidence of any specific feeling even though that was probably part of it for most people. It was the evidence of action – consistent actions of love, continued day in and day out – actions that made God’s love visible and tangible and real through the welcoming, caring, support and nurture of people. Evidence through action that people have value simply because they are.

The minutes were passing faster than I wanted them to. I could tell the worship leaders were ready to get started but couldn’t since the woman and I were standing front and center in the sanctuary. I asked her why she came to this particular church. She said that the people were kind to her and took her in when she returned to town after a long absence. In the few years since she’d been back, they’d consistently helped her and her children. Over and over they had been there for her even in really difficult times. It was kind of like they had made space – just for her.

That’s how you know.

One of my responsibilities in the United Methodist Church is to serve on the General Conference Standing Committee for Central Conference Matters. Essentially, that group deals with issues facing the UM church outside of the United States.

In 2012 the General Conference referred the task of creating a “global Book of Discipline” to the StCCCM. As we began to tackle that project during our meeting in September, we realized just how massive it is – and probably more importantly, just how complex, convoluted, and in many ways unmanageable our current Discipline really is.

The whole project of a global Book of Discipline begs the question, what does it mean to be a global church? What binds us together across cultures and geography? And therein lies the rub. I’m not sure we know. I’m not even sure we know what binds us together across the various cultures and geography of the United States, let alone Europe, Africa or the Philippines.

Throughout the StCCCM meeting, my mind kept returning to another of my responsibilities in ministry – serving on the World Methodist Council. Now there’s a global body – over 80 different churches (denominations) representing over 80.5 million people, on every continent across the entire planet (well, maybe not Antarctica), all sharing a common Wesleyan heritage.

As I thought about these parallel and intertwined groups – the UMC and the WMC – I was reminded of the Imperatives of World Methodist Evangelism, which the WMC recently agreed was a good summation of what binds us together as a global body:


Imperatives of World Methodist Evangelism: “Reason for the Hope within Us” (1 Peter 3.15)

In the context of a global contemporary culture, it is imperative that “the people called Methodists” be bound by a recognition that we are a movement of missionary people called by God, who in Himself is missionary. We are called to join with Him in His global mission to the whole of creation. Therefore it is incumbent upon us, as World Methodists, to revisit and restate in clearly articulate terms that which binds us together:

1) The Centrality of Jesus Christ in Reconciling the World to God

  • We have confidence in and a passion for the Gospel and we affirm its urgency.
  • We hold Jesus Christ central in everything and emphasize that He is Lord and Savior.
  • We lift up the importance of “conversion to Jesus Christ” and of faithfully making disciples throughout the world. (2 Corinthians 5.18-19; 1 Corinthians 9.16)

2) Connectivity

  • As Methodists we are one people in all the world, connected through our Wesleyan heritage as well as through being part of one Church, holy and apostolic.
  • We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ’s Commission to His Church to preach the gospel and to make disciples of all nations is the supreme business of the church.
  • In this spirit we are sent to serve others and together to engage in world mission and evangelism. (Matthew 28.19)

3) Salvation for all

  • Today more than ever, identifying needs and addressing them are crucial if we are to faithfully proclaim the Gospel and spread Scriptural holiness throughout the world.
  • We affirm the “Four-alls of Methodism” as being distinctive: All need to be saved. All can be saved. All can know that they are saved. All can be saved to the uttermost. (Mark 16.15; Ephesians 2.8; 2 Corinthians 5.14-15; 1 Timothy 2.3-4; Hebrews 7.25)

4) Openness to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit moves all over the world.
  • The Holy Spirit gave birth the Church.
  • The Holy Spirit continues to empower the Church to grow through witness and ministry in the world.
  • Wherever a church is open to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, it is alive and vibrant in faith, hope and witness. (Acts 1.8; Romans 12.6-8; 1 Corinthians 12.8-11)

5) Every Christian is called to witness to the good news of Christ Jesus.

  • This witness is incarnational.
  • The Church as a community of faith is the witness of Christ in the world.
  • Each Christian is called to witness for Christ in the situation in which one lives.
  • Church leaders are to equip, empower and enable members to understand the context for witness.
  • This understanding helps believers to be confident and competent to share their faith through word, deed and sign. (Luke 4.18-19; Acts 1.8; Romans 15.18-19)

about-portrait6) Evangelism grounded in Scripture and Prayer.

  • Evangelism is grounded in the Holy Bible, the foundation for doctrine, teaching, preaching and practice.
  • Evangelism is also grounded in prayer, both personal and corporate. (Ephesians 6.18-19; Colossians 4.2-4)


If this can bind a global body of over 80 diverse denominations (and you only need to look at the difference between the Methodist Church of Nigeria and the Uniting Church of Australia to see how diverse it is), might it be a start in thinking about what binds our single denomination? Maybe we’ll surprise ourselves and find we actually agree.



Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World


Jorge Acevedo


Lead Pastor ~ Grace Church in Southwest Florida


A Seminar for Laity and Clergy


Thursday, November 14, 2013






Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church

3179 North 600 West (Mt. Comfort Rd) ~ Greenfield, IN 46140 ~ 317.894.8965

1/2 mile north of I-70 (Exit 96) on Mt. Comfort Road (600W) 


Jorge Acevedo

Jorge Acevedo

Have you heard of Jorge Acevedo? His multi-cultural, multi-site, mega-church in southwest Florida has done what the United Methodist Church has struggled to do: reach people. His book, Vital, was a suggested text before the 2012 General Conference, and is a pretty good read.

In just a couple of weeks, he’ll be coming to Indiana to lead a day-long seminar you don’t want to miss! The location is Mt. Comfort UMC, which is near Indianapolis.

The event is sponsored by the Indiana Conference Confessing Movement. For details and registration information, click here.


There are a lot of challenging things happening in the UMC right now; but there remains one thing I believe we can still all agree on – the importance of reaching out to others with the love of Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what Jorge Acevedo is doing in Southwest Florida. If you’re anywhere close, I hope you’ll make an effort to attend.


Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman


Next Step was founded in 2005 as a vehicle for ministry in the areas of evangelism, spiritual formation, and leadership development. It’s been an amazing 8 years, full of challenges, surprises, and a great deal of meaning. Many of you have been with me from the beginning, some have come alongside me more recently, all of you have been wonderfully supportive.

Opportunities are currently unfolding that will necessitate a change in direction for Next Step. I’m shifting responsibility and will now be at the forefront of a new venture – A Wesleyan Accent – a web-based ministry providing free and subscription resources for Christian spiritual formation, catechesis, and discipleship in the Wesleyan way. It’s my hope that by clearly articulating the Wesleyan understanding of Christian faith, A Wesleyan Accent will contribute significantly to the task of strengthening discipleship, empowering mission and evangelism, cultivating ministry gifts of young leaders, and nurturing the professional and service life of young theologians.

There will be two main areas of the site – free resources and information, and subscription resources. The free resources will include blogs, sermons, articles, book reviews, and videos from leading voices in the Wesleyan family. Discipleship in the Wesleyan Way will be the subscription portion the site. Individuals and churches will be able to purchase annual subscriptions, which will provide access to an extensive library of small group lessons on all aspects of Christian theology. Additionally, Discipleship in the Wesleyan Way will support discipleship and small group development by providing resources for both leaders and participants through a platform of customizable curriculum planning and private group portals for ongoing communication and additional resourcing.

I’m excited about this new phase of ministry. A Wesleyan Accent will launch in the fall and you’ll be able to find us at At that time, visitors to this site will be redirected to A Wesleyan Accent. In the meantime, if you’re new to Next Step, I hope you’ll explore the site as it is – there’s a lot of great content here that will remain accessible to you throughout the transition phase and beyond.

Thanks again for your support. I look forward to continuing to serve through A Wesleyan Accent!




What’s Your Next Step?

vickersHaving read Jason Vickersbook Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal, I’m continuing to ponder next steps. Here is a second installment of those thoughts. You can read the first installment, A Death Embrace, here.


Selfishly, one of the things I appreciated about Jason’s book is that it confirmed my own thoughts. From my perspective, historically the church has not always held together the relationship between the personal and the corporate in a holistic fashion, which (again from my perspective) has in turn undermined evangelism in significant ways. Nicholas Perrin is on target when he say’s that many Christians are conditioned to read Scripture as God’s saving Word to them as individuals rather than God’s saving word to the church. He goes on to say that this kind of understanding has led to ‘a notion that views the church as little more than a loose association of the equivalents of Jesus’ Facebook friends.’*

Over the years, much evangelistic activity has focused on the person as an isolated entity, as though that was the entire focus of Jesus’ message. But that’s somewhat of a distortion. In Christian faith the personal and the communal don’t cancel each other out, they’re bound together, with each reinforcing the other.

That’s why Jason’s critique of the idea of the church as the ‘community of the already saved’ is so important. But it’s not so easy to swallow. Where I grew up, we’d say Jason’s gone to meddlin’.

But I can’t think of a more important word at this juncture. Salvation is not simply a private transaction between an individual and Jesus. Sin is not just about transgressing divine laws. Atonement is not merely the juridical event of pardon. And (thankfully) the church is not a ‘waiting room for heaven’ or ‘a good place to get something to eat and make a few new friends while we wait to be called home to glory,’ or even ‘a good place to come together for civic involvement or…political caucusing.’**

What is at stake, especially for evangelism, is the recognition that salvation is dramatically more far-reaching and comprehensive than a simple private transaction. Sin is deeper and more complex than the breaking of a few commandments. Atonement is far more sweeping and transformative than the receipt of pardon. And (thankfully) the church is instrumental in all of it – the very context of the Holy Spirit’s activity and the chosen vehicle through which God works for radical transformation.

But convincing folks of all that can seem like a really hard sell these days – especially in the United Methodist Church. And it’s not just because many of us think of the church as an afterthought when it comes to salvation.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

One of my seminary professors, George Lindbeck talked about the importance of church doctrine to the formation of communal identity. He said that ‘Church doctrines are communally authoritative teachings regarding beliefs and practices that are considered essential to the identity or welfare of the group in question…they indicate what constitutes faithful adherence to a community.’ Think about the Quakers, for instance. If I’m a Quaker, but I oppose pacifism, I’m not going to be viewed as a good Quaker, because that’s not what a member of the Society of Friends should be. Lindbeck says that if you don’t draw that conclusion, then it’s most likely because ‘the belief has ceased to be communally formative.’*** The belief may still be a formal or official one, but it’s no longer operational.

That’s the heart of our current crisis in the UMC. Not only have we forgotten that the church is instrumental to salvation, it may also very well be that the doctrinal heritage of the UMC is no longer communally formative (at least in the US). If that’s the case, then (sadly) we really aren’t much more than a loose association of Jesus’ Facebook friends.



*Nicholas Perrin, ‘Jesus Eschatology and Kingdom Ethics: Ever the Twain Shall Meet’, in N. Perrin and R. Hays (eds.), Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011), 100, 102

**Jason Vickers, Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2011), 83

***George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age [1984], (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 60

The View from Here

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 | By John Meunier
Filed in: John Meunier, The View from Here


My son and I were talking about church and politics the other day. He works in politics. I am a pastor. He was talking about the way he recruits people to work on campaigns and take leadership in the organization. It comes down to explaining the plan the campaign has for winning the race and asking the person to do some specific thing. Once you’ve sold them on the soundness of your plan, you don’t make an open-ended request for help, you get concrete. Can you give me $500? Can you volunteer 2 hours on Thursday? Will you commit to recruit five other volunteers to help out next week?

I told him that was very helpful as I think about the challenges of recruiting help in the church and evangelism. Can we articulate “our plan” and do we ask people to do specific things? Are we concrete enough when we make “the ask”?

And then my son followed up with his concerns.

In the church, he said, there are two problems. First, in a political campaign you have a target date. The election is coming and you have to get more than 50% of the votes by that date. It makes it easy to focus attention. Second, in politics, he said, you always know that there are going to be a lot of people who disagree with your or don’t like you.

In the church, we often are so soft about what we are doing that we can’t speak to people about concrete objectives and goals. We can’t even tell whether we are doing well because we don’t know what doing well looks like. And, my son observed, we often seem more concerned about everyone liking us than speaking what we believe.

As we chatted, I found myself thinking about John Wesley who used to preach while people threw rocks at him because he considered preaching the gospel so important that it was worth the risk.

I know many of my brothers and sisters are engaged in bold evangelism and discipleship. May more of us remember that great gift it is to value what we are doing more than we value the good opinion of other people.

John Meunier



A Worldwide Church: The Pain of Growth and Pruning


I’m finding blogging any deeper than a tweet is next to impossible as the General Conference workload and tension/stress level begins to intensify. To tide you over, check out the article I wrote for

A Worldwide Church: The Pain of Growth and Pruning.




Out on a Walk…


Because I’ve got a hugely busy time coming up during the next month or so, I’m trying to get a head start on some Next Step posts. I was perusing some of what I’ve written in the past & came across some interesting stuff.

Back in March, 2009 I wrote this…

Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart

I’ve got a great set of note cards that has a beautiful drawing of African women strutting with baskets on their heads & drums on their hips. The drawing is called Virgins Dancing by Stella Atal.* I love the art, but it’s the quote from Meister Eckhart that pulls it all together:

God is always at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.

 I wonder sometimes if we in the church haven’t gone out for a walk – a long one. We seem to put our energy into so many things – good things, important things – but then we overlook, or worse, even forget, the foundational things.

I’m lucky to even be writing this given my long absence from the world of blogging. These days it seems that my work demands that I write for every venue but this one. So I won’t waste valuable time lecturing about what’s foundational & what’s not. But here’s a random thought. Is it possible that it’s not really about ‘creating new places for new people & renewing existing ones’ as the bishops & General Conference have said? Could it really be about offering the life transforming grace of God through Jesus Christ to the world?

Stella Atal

God is always at home...

The whole creating new places things sounds like a good idea, but what kind of new places for new people are we talking about? I’d like to assume that when the bishops (or whoever it was) came up with such a catchy phrase they were talking about creating communities of faith living as the body of Christ. Even better, I’d like to assume they were talking about communities of faith living as the body of Christ & committed to proclaiming the gospel of the Messiah Jesus in order to bring people into a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. I’d like to think they were expressing a commitment to evangelism. But somehow I wonder. Nobody’s really talking about Jesus in any of this – at least not out loud – & God forbid we use the dreaded ‘E’ word. So who knows? The way things are going these new places for new people could wind up being coffee shops for fellowship (not a bad thing in & of itself). Or free trade stores to promote a more just form of capitalism – again, not a bad thing – but not quite the same thing as connecting people with the source of life abundant.

I don’t really know what to make of it really. So I wonder. Because as good as it sounds, it still feels like we’re out on a walk – a long walk.


Hmmm….sounds familiar…


*Sadly, the url I used in 2009 is no longer active – but here’s what I found for Stella Atal.

Tattooed Love

Many of you know how important stories are to me – faith stories, family stories – they’re all significant in shaping us.

Steve Beard

Steve Beard

Here’s one I came across that made me smile. I can just picture my father chatting it up with a bunch of tattoo artists. Steve Beard wrote about it back in 2003 in Good News Magazine. Here’s what Steve wrote:


Bobby Doran is not exactly your typical evangelist. He spends most of his time poking people with sharp objects for a living. Ink, blood, rubber gloves—and a smile. Doran is an artist at The Tattoo Shop in Forth Worth, Texas, and recently garnered headlines by becoming the latest record holder for 30 hours of continuous tattooing.

Even though you won’t find his vocation listed in a seminary course catalog, Doran considers tattooing his ministry. “The church for years has looked at tattoos as a bad thing. We are trying to show a different side of it,” he told Knight Ridder News Service. “Ninety percent of the people who walk into a tattoo shop will never walk into a church. So if we can be the only church that they see, well, that’s good.”

Doran is no high-pressure preacher. “I don’t force anything down anybody’s throat, but when God says talk to them, I talk to them,” he says. His wife Tanya reports: “We’ve had people break down and cry and give themselves up to God. If it happens, it happens.”

Doran’s world record reminded me of a story I heard recently from the Rev. Jim Smith, pastor of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Amarillo, Texas. It seems that a few years ago, Smith found himself in an elevator with an exotic couple. The young man’s hair was spiked, his sleeveless shirt displayed his ink-colored arms, and his eyebrow and earlobes were pierced. Her tattoos and piercings were displayed through her less-than-modest leather and denim outfit.

On the other side of the elevator stood Smith in his blue blazer, striped tie, and white starched shirt. He was, after all, on his way to chair the board meeting of the Confessing Movement, an evangelical reform ministry within the United Methodist Church.

In order to break the awkward silence, Smith said aloud, “Well, I don’t suppose we are going to the same meeting.” That sparked a laugh and began the conversation between the buttoned-down preacher and the inked-up couple. It turns out that they were at the hotel for the Old School Reunion—a tattoo artist convention. The couple even invited the pastor to check it out for himself; he thanked them for the invitation and went off to his meeting.

Maxie Dunnam

Maxie Dunnam

After the board meeting, Jim was invited by Dr. Maxie Dunnam, president of Asbury Theological Seminary, to grab a cup of coffee. Smith told Dunnam that he had already been invited to an event at the hotel.

“To what?” asked Dunnam. “To the Old School Reunion,” Smith responded.

The two of them scooted through the hotel in their business suits looking around for the tattoo convention. When they found the registration desk, they were greeted by an older gentleman covered in ink. He recognized that the two men were obviously not there to get a touch up on their dragon tattoos.

Bedecked in a sleeveless t-shirt, black leather vest, and rings wobbling off his earlobes, the man turned out to be the head of the convention and invited Dunnam and Smith to look around as his guests.

Jesus tattooAssuming the pair knew little about tattoos, he held out his right arm and showed the two visitors a picture of Jesus ascending into heaven. They both stared in amazement at the inked forearm.

Unsure if his new friends recognized the figure on his arm, the man said, “Jesus was the son of God. His Father sent him into the world to be our savior. He died on the cross to forgive our sins and was raised from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is praying for you.” He then winsomely asked his two guests, “Have you ever heard this story before?”

The two ministers had just heard the most succinct presentation of the gospel ever. When they confessed they were Methodist preachers, the tattooed man shouted, “Praise God! You’re my brothers!” He proceeded to hug his new friends right in the middle of the convention.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

“That was the first time in my life I’ve been hugged by a man in a leather vest and earrings,” Smith testifies.

The three of them went from booth to booth as the man told his tattooed colleagues to “meet my two brothers.” Pierced ears. Crew cuts. Leather vests. Navy blazers. Sleeveless t-shirts. White starched shirts. Tattoos. Neckties. Two worlds collided and the grace of God settled in some unpredictable directions.

While he was on the elevator first surveying the tattooed couple, Jim Smith had wondered who would be able to witness for Christ to them. Culturally, he and they were from two separate stratospheres. But later as the three new friends went from booth to booth at the tattoo convention, Smith was reminded that God is never left without a witness—even a few colorful ones to keep us on our toes and remind us that he is covering all the bases.


God is never left without a witness. What’s your next step?

Interesting thoughts and happenings…

atheist billboards

American Atheists Billboards



American Atheists, one of the largest atheist organizations in the nations, has unveiled two new billboards in New York and New Jersey which target Muslim and Jews, asking them to reconsider their religion. Read more…





Church Life

Check out Church Life, a new open source (meaning free of charge) journal from Notre Dame’s Center for Liturgy. The journal focuses on the “New Evangelization” in the Roman Catholic Church. With an emphasis on catechesis (teaching), discerning vocation and liturgical formation, it’s got important information for Methodists as well. Just fill out the online registration form and you can download or read online for free.




Elon School of Communication

Hyperconnected lives



Interesting information from the Pew Foundation on millennials and their  hyperconnected lives. How will this unfolding reality affect how we relate to this generation? Read more…