Our recent General Conference (GC) and my interaction with over two-thirds of our district conferences since remind me of how much I love The Wesleyan Church (TWC), and how deeply I believe in the place God has entrusted our rather modest movement in his greater kingdom purposes. I celebrate with you the many ways we’re continuing to fulfill the greatest commandment by loving God with all that we are and loving our neighbors as ourselves!
The preceding quadrennium began with us individually praying for 50 days and collectively asking God to help us make the most of our opportunities — making disciples, being Holy Spirit-empowered witnesses and maximizing our God-given opportunities.
Our love for God and one another was powerfully displayed at the 14th General Conference of TWC in North America (14thGC). Delegates had strong, and at times differing opinions, yet communicated with a shared spirit of mutual voluntary submission. Wesleyans, your elected delegates conferenced extremely well, providing a Christ-honoring foundation upon which we serve over the next four years.
Praying into the 14thGC, I sensed very clearly our need to continue our missional trajectory. Our mission and beliefs are rooted in Scripture, true to our history as Wesleyans, and are being freshly empowered by the Holy Spirit to navigate cultural crosscurrents and spread the good news of the gospel.
We’re united … in seeking the fresh infilling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be personally transformed and Unleashed for the mission God has entrusted to us.
We’re united … in our core biblical and theological beliefs. The most often referenced highlight of the 14thGC was every delegate standing and enthusiastically hearing and repeatedly affirming their commitment to unwavering truth by declaring “So be it!”
We’re united … by a commitment to “connection” that’s neither overly hierarchical nor only local. It’s nurtured by “conferencing” annually in local churches and in districts, and generally quadrennially in a GC. We value collective discernment and view our conducting of business not as merely an organizational necessity but that our “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that (we) may be able to discern what is best …” (Philippians 1:9-10, NIV). At its best, it is “holy conferencing.”
We’re caring for each other in a season that’s been spiritually and emotionally challenging for so many. In some ways, ministry has been more demanding. Long-term means of measuring fruitfulness (in-person attendance) have been impacted and new missional measurements are helping us get a fuller picture (online attendance). We’re rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn. We’re also obeying Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. We’re honoring John Wesley’s priority stated to his lay ministers — “we have nothing to do but save souls.” We pursue the priority of every person having the opportunity to be Made New.
I’m continually energized by stories of Wesleyans who are courageously pursuing the mission. They’re asking the questions, “Where do we see God working?” and “Are we following where the Holy Spirit is leading?”
Sarah (21) received her call to ministry in 2015 at Follow. This year, she took a bold step to lead 22 peers in an intentional program to volunteer at their district kid’s camp, purposely including discipleship training, devotionals, worship and equipping. Sarah and her sister (17) also lead worship for high school, middle school and family camp.
Linet immigrated from Kenya to the U.S. through the diversity lottery. Attending Olathe Wesleyan Church, Olathe, Kansas, she works for their Kidzone Learning Center. Immigrant Connection (IC) in Olathe helped her become a naturalized U.S. citizen. IC then helped her successfully complete a family-based petition to be reunited with her mother. This past May, Linet’s mom met her two-year-old grandson for the first time.
All participants of Hispanic Connectional Movement roundtables shared how they’re making disciples. Nestor Gudiño, multisite Wesleyan church pastor, communicated his strategic vision, placing a strong emphasis on identifying and developing new leaders, noting that these emerging leaders need to be given opportunities to serve and be sent.
When Jo Jo, a Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) track athlete, surrendered his life to Jesus last October, he was filled with great joy and shared his testimony with his teammates. Upon hearing his story, Kayla received Christ into her heart as well! The following day, both were baptized in the steeplechase pit on the SWU track field.
In Brazil, missions is preached at church, Sunday School and camps. God is raising up young people with a very strong call! Because of the Spirit’s leading, they’re training them through conferences with Wesleyan speakers sharing their experiences and in short-term mission trips where God is at work in miraculous ways. Through all these things, the Brazilian church and beyond is on fire like others in Latin America. In August, they will be sending a family God has called to Asia to the mission field of Bangladesh. Brazil’s vision is to follow the Lord faithfully and courageously.
These are samples of what I’m seeing across TWC. Interactions with our Wesleyan family combined with quiet times with God leave me profoundly optimistic that we’ll be faithful in our courageous pursuit of the missio Dei (God’s mission) in this world.
More people are asking and seeking how to connect with and contribute to the mission, in their local church and the broader movement. There’s a growing hunger for holiness — to be filled and transformed by the Holy Spirit and empowered to be Unleashed to join God in what he’s already doing.
I pray Philippians 1:9-11 daily, remembering how “discerning what is best” is embedded in “your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” Our ability to sense and obey the Holy Spirit’s leading will grow as we grow as lovers of God and others, and learners rooted in his Word and responsive to his truth.
 “Minutes of Several Conversations between the Reverend Mr. John and Charles Wesley and Others,” in “’Works of Wesley,” vol.10:854.
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