A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dr. Tom Albin - Dean of the Upper Room

This past week, Dr. Tom Albin, Dean of the Upper Room in Nashville, gave two presentations to the clergy of the West Ohio Conference. I heard Dr. Albin give a presentation in Nashville a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the way he was able to communicate how our unique Wesleyan heritage can help our local churches make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. He was equally compelling this past week!

Here are some key thoughts from this past week's presentations worth pondering:

  • Methodism is built on a three legged stool - Doctrine, Spirit, & Discipline.
  • Methodism at its best provides a system to help all people grow in grace. 1) Small groups for seekers that meet in a neutral site away from the church. The church needs to be present in the public domain! 2) Small groups for people who are willing to grow as mature Christians. 3) Small groups for people who are serious believers and who are seeking to become leaders in the church.
  • The big question Dr. Tom Albin asked of us pastors is, "Does your church have an intentional process to help people move into deeper levels of discipleship?" Most local churches offer a wide array of groups/activities but they are often not presented in a methodical way that can help people on their road of discipleship. It's often "hit or miss" in local churches. We need to be much more intentional in our disciple making process.
  • For Wesley and the early Methodists, it wasn't just about having the right information on how to be a Christian. It was about having other Christians in a small group setting help them stay accountable in moving forward and on to perfection and holiness.
  • The goal of transformation is for men and women to be fully alive. Wesley liked this quote from Irenaeus, a 2nd century early church father, and he adopted it for his Methodist movement. For Wesley, being fully alive meant 1) not being afraid, and 2) having joy.

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