changing lives renewing the church

Internet : Today’s Pastor :: Fields : John Wesley

The internet is the market square of today. It is a place where people who have no interest in church, faith or religion may be found and invited into a journey of knowing, loving and serving God.

Several hundred years ago, John Wesley preached repentance in the fields and the market square and invited people become part of a community in which they could grow in their faith.

I hope to be part of the same model of invitation, repentance and connection today through Resurrection Online.

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

6 replies on “Internet : Today’s Pastor :: Fields : John Wesley”

Just to push against your analogy a little bit…

When Wesley was preaching in the streets and the fields he was preaching to miners and factory workers who lived in really poor conditions and had been totally ignored by the church. The analogue to those people today would probably be immigrant farm workers, the working poor and homeless, the rural poor, etc.

These people don’t tend to have internet access.

Luke – You are completely accurate that immigrant farm workers, the working poor and homeless, and rural poor are not likely to have high speed internet access in their home. However, there is a significant population that is comfortable online that is not being reached by the church. Digital natives who are in high school and college and are more likely to feel comfortable, at least initially, in an online faith community than showing up in person to a gathering.
Your point is well taken.

Luke – You must remember that the impetus for Wesley’s endeavor into street preaching was very significantly in part a result of his having been kicked out of just about every church he preached in after his evangelical conversion, and the subsequent refusal of any of them to allow him to preach there ever gain. Along with that of course was the refusal of the ecclesiastical hierarchy to assign him a parish.

We do well to remember that contrary to popular opinion Wesley’s famous line “The World is my parish” was not a grand statement of world mission or the expression of a Utopian ideal for world transformation, rather it was the ecclesiastical equivalent of flipping the Church of England the Bird and saying like it or not I’m going to obey God, not human institutions.

I say all that to remind us that Wesley was a radical innovator, and his call to the streets was precipitated less by his social conscience, and more by his evangelical zeal, one that he would later recommend to his preachers saying “You have nothing to do but save souls, so spend and be spent in this endeavor”. I often laugh when folks “remind me” that Wesley never left the Anglican Church – As if he were perfectly happy and content living as a good Anglican priest in the tradition of the day. I am fond of suggesting that the reals story is that the AC never left him – they simply did not have the courage to kick him out, even as he violated numerous cannons of clergy ethics culminating of course in his unauthorized ordination of more than 25 individuals for ministry in the US and England.

Wesley was a get it done at all costs kind of guy, and though his focus clearly evolved from that of a traditional Anglican churchman, to a radically missional innovator, his post Aldersgate trajectory was radically oriented towards a rejection of traditional convention for the sake of individual transformation and life change.

To that end something like the Internet Campus certainly is pursuing the “by whatever means works to reach souls” ethic. There may even be some points where we have to say in the good old Wesleyan tradition – the web is our parish, I only hope that we keep our focus on that great commandment that Wesley took so seriously, to go and make disciples, to seek and save the lost, to live out our calling to “Do Nothing But Save Souls”, and perhaps on our way to Glory change the world even if ever so slightly to more accurately reflect the Kingdom of God.

I suspect, however – Andrew, that you are unlikely to be pelted with rotten tomatoes, rocks, and the occasional fists of fury for engaging in ministry on the internet. But who knows there maybe a few nasty denial of service attacks, and hacking jobs that come your way…. If so rejoice for the world will hate you, but he has overcome the world!

Chuck – I appreciate your historical feedback and especially your reminder to keep the focus on going and making disciples. I do enjoy the latest and greatest technological innovation, however I hope to always stay focused on the mission. Thanks for the reminders and your encouragement!

Comments are closed.