Author Archives: Juliana Lopes

The Power of The Holy Spirit by Maxie Dunnam

This is the fourth article in a series of articles Maxie is writing about the beliefs behind our views of evangelism. Click here for the first article, here for the second, and here for the third.

In my reflection on evangelism I have made three bold claims.

  1. What you think about Christ determines what you do about evangelism. If we don’t have confidence in the gospel, and if we are not solidly convicted about the uniqueness of Christ, it is not likely that evangelism will have much priority in our personal ministry and/or in our church.
  2. What we do about evangelism is shaped by what we think about grace. If we think that grace is limited, or that all people are automatically saved, we will not be likely to proclaim the message of grace with any urgency to all people. If, on the other hand, we realize that grace is unlimited, and that salvation can be rejected, we will share urgently and with all.
  3. What you think Jesus can do for a person will determine what you do about evangelism. This is one of the greatest motivations possible to share the good news with others. Do we really care not only about our own family and circle of friends, but our neighbors we don’t even yet know even though they have been “neighbors” for two or three years? The question has a more expansive focus. Jesus talked about “the uttermost parts of the world.”

So I move my reflection beyond “What we think about Jesus” determining our expression of evangelism. I move beyond the level of evangelistic content with this bold assertion: What you think about evangelism won’t matter much unless the Holy Spirit empowers you.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus gave us the charter of the kingdom when he announced his mission:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). 

At the close of his ministry, he commissioned us for kingdom work:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of age” (Matthew 28:19-20)

At the center of his charter and his commission for the kingdom is the Holy Spirit: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … Go … make disciples … baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Not only are the charter and the commission of the kingdom centered in the Spirit, his commitment to provide us power is Spirit-centered.

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 

He said to them:  “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts l:608 NIV)

It’s too clear for us to miss. According to Jesus, at the heart of kingdom business is evangelism, and the power source of evangelism is the Holy Spirit. What you think about evangelism won’t matter much unless the Holy Spirit empowers your effort.


Pictured: Painting by Kerry Dunnam Peeples

Words That Shine (Part 2) by James Loftin

It could happen to you today. It could happen in a coffee shop, in the car, in the gym, on the phone, at work, or at church. Someone may ask you a question that takes your breath away. The question might come from a colleague, a new friend, or a family member. “Why are you a Christian? You seem like a smart person. So how did you begin this Christian thing you’re doing?” 

Some things are clear. You are a Christian. When God graciously ushered you into new life, he gave you the Holy Spirit to guide and empower you. You know a good bit about the Bible and the faith. You have heard countless sermons and testimonies. You may have even shared your own testimony at times. You want to share something that honors Jesus and is helpful to the seeker. In addition to all those realities, the Bible invites us to “be prepared.” Preparation takes effort and time. In life, we are all generally excited about preparing for things we enjoy or deem important. What is more important than shining the grace of Jesus with words that are clear, loving, and helpful?

In Part One of this article, I offered a theological framework and motivation for preparing a testimony that is more likely to be understood and appreciated in all settings. In Part Two, I provide practical guidance on how to prepare that type of testimony.


Guiding Principles

  • One Attitude. You are a sinner saved by grace. You are not perfect, but the love of God is changing your life. The attitude of a faithful witness is humility and a love for God and the person who is in front of you.
  • One Link. Realize that God’s Spirit is always ahead of you. Even if the listeners have never heard the Gospel, God has been at work in their lives in other ways. Your witness will not be the first or last link in the chain of events that God is orchestrating in their lives.
  • One Chapter. An effective witness is different than a sermon or a doctrinal teaching. Your witness should not try to cover every biblical doctrine. Your focus is on the person of Jesus and how he has changed your life. You are sharing one chapter of your life – the events, people and thoughts that led up to you deciding to follow Jesus.
  • One Goal. Your goal is to provide a joyful snapshot of the beauty of Jesus and the positive way he has changed your life. Your hope is that the listener will respect your story as a valid testimony even if they disagree with you or are not interested in changing their own beliefs at this moment. 



  • How and why did you decide to follow Jesus? In many settings, the words “Christ follower” are less offensive and more understandable than the word “Christian.”
  • Consider using one episode or illustration to try to communicate the wonderful change that God has brought to your life.
  • What roles did friends, family, the Bible, pain, fear, or forgiveness play in your decision to follow Jesus? 
  • How has following Jesus made a positive impact on your life?
  • Focus on Jesus and how you relate to Him. 
  • Assume that the listener knows nothing accurate about the Bible or Christianity or your church or your lifestyle and culture.
  • If you want to include the Bible in your witness, use no more than one verse. Give the reference and if your listener has no knowledge of the Bible, briefly explain what the Bible is.
  • End well. Stop short of offering an evangelistic invitation. Your immediate goal is to joyfully share your personal story. Feel free, however, to end with a statement like, “I would love to talk more with you about my faith if you are interested.” Don’t be surprised if the Spirit is moving and your friend wants to continue talking. The listener may have heard you but needs time to think about your witness before talking more. Peter’s use of the words gentleness and respect suggests that we will want to be patient. Be comforted by the fact that God may use someone other than you in the next phases of your friend’s spiritual quest. 



  • Use the 1st person singular pronoun “I”. Using the 2nd person pronoun “you” sounds like preaching and may be offensive. 
  • Use short, simple sentences. English may not be the first language of your listeners, and they may know very little about the experience and concepts you describe. 
  • The entire witness should take no more than 4 minutes (one page or 700-800 words in 11-point font).


After writing your witness, share it with a group of Christian friends. Ask for their honest advice to improve the witness – word choice, focus, clarity, length, etc. Make these changes and memorize the witness. You will then “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 3:15). 

In part one of this article, I wrote about a man I met in a coffee shop in China. After chatting for a few minutes, he asked me, “Please tell me why so many Americans are religious Christians?” In that moment, I thanked God that I was prepared. I had the desire to shine God’s love in that holy moment, and I had words. I was ready. My response went something like this. “Good question. Yes, many Americans are Christians. I’m not sure how they would answer your question, but here is my answer.” I then shared my witness. It took three minutes. He maintained eye contact the entire time. I ended by asking if he would like to meet again to talk more. I moved from that city soon after that first encounter. I never saw him again. I have no idea if my friend ever trusted Jesus. I do know that God brought us together. I know that I loved him well, and I shared the Good News with him. I’m thankful that God prepared my heart and I prepared my words. I was ready.

Regardless of your personality or vocation, you can be ready to share. Your testimony will point someone to Jesus. Your sharing will be GOOD NEWS. Your words will shine!

The Nature of Grace by Maxie Dunnam

This is the third article in a series of articles Maxie is writing about the beliefs behind our views of evangelism.  Click here for the first article and here for the second.

In a previous article we focused on the uniqueness of Christ, insisting that ideas have consequences. What we think about Christ determines what we do about evangelism. If we are not solidly convicted about the uniqueness of Christ, it is not likely that evangelism will have priority in our personal ministry and/or the church.

Recall Archbishop William Temple’s definition of evangelism: “Evangelism is the winning of persons to acknowledge Christ as their Savior and King, so that they may give themselves to his service in the fellowship of the church.” Reflecting on the uniqueness of Christ Christ as Savior and King leads to another theological issue: the nature of grace.

Grace is the heart of the Gospel. Beliefs matter. Ideas have consequences. Grace. Amazing, yes! What we think about it shapes our evangelistic message and determines our evangelistic urgency.

The apostle John captured it in this encompassing word: 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).

And this is what Paul argued about so convincingly with the Romans:

“Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith” (Romans 8:23-25).

John Wesley did a great service and provided a distinctive emphasis by talking about grace impinging upon us and working in three specific ways: prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace. Prevenient grace is the grace of God going before us, pulling us, wooing us, seeking to open our minds and hearts, and eventually giving us faith. Justifying grace is the forgiving love of God, freely given to us, reconciling us, putting us right with God, making Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf. Sanctifying grace is the work and Spirit of Christ within us, restoring the broken image, completing the salvation, which was begun in justification, and bringing us to complete newness of life and perfection in love.

Certainly, our understanding and experience of grace impacts our witness and determines in large part the way we do evangelism. If we believe that God loves us and all people, seeking us and them before we seek God, we can witness with confidence, but also in humility, knowing that we cannot limit the saving love of God, and that we don’t do the saving work – God does.

It is not free only for those whom God has ordained to life, but it is like the air we breathe, or the wind that blows in our faces. The big question is, have we sincerely accepted that gift? Or, have we sought to live as though we could earn God’s favor and salvation?

In the first five chapters of Romans Paul gives his reason in the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. We have absolutely nothing for which to boast, and we can do nothing to earn the favor of God. Everything is grace!

But we can do something, in fact we must do something. We must believe that God lovingly and passionately wants us to have the salvation he offers. Believing that, we confess, repent and receive the gift that is ours

Our calling is to do everything we can to assure that everyone hears that message.

That is the reason Wesley sounded so clearly the note of repentance. God’s prevenient grace works in our lives to lead us to repentance which is a necessary response for salvation. Repentance is both a step and an ongoing response. God’s grace is universal, but prevenient grace is not sufficient for salvation. A person may suppress or ignore this grace. If so, scripture warns that we may experience hardness of heart, so that the stirrings of the Spirit within will go unheeded.

Our preaching, teaching, and witnessing must make the nature of grace clear. Grace is always available, but we must make a personal faith commitment to receive it.


This is the third article in a series Maxie is writing on the beliefs we hold about evangelism. Come back to Wesleyan Accent next week for the fourth installment.

Words That Shine by James Loftin

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – I Peter 3:15 NIV


I ducked into a small coffeeshop one cold, wet morning in northern China. As I sipped my latte, I noticed I was being watched. He looked as cold as I did. He was dressed nicely, and I assumed that he, like me, was on his way to work. Regardless of what my mother taught me, staring is not considered impolite in some cultures. I took another sip, smiled, and made eye contact with my fellow coffee drinker. He responded with a little wave as he said, “Good morning” with a heavy accent.

I knew what would happen next. It happened to me almost every day. I was an obvious guest in the country and people are curious. I invited the man to my table, and we began to talk. My new friend desperately wanted to practice his English and learn more about Western culture. He asked many questions about vocabulary, business, the USA, and my life. Some of his questions were more personal than most westerners ask. I understood and engaged him enthusiastically. Eventually, he asked a question that drove my heart back to I Peter 3:15. “Please tell me why so many Americans are religious Christians?” As I shot up a prayer for guidance, I quickly recalled my context. Although there is a growing number of Christ followers in China, the vast majority of people have had no exposure to the Gospel. I realized that I needed to choose my words carefully. 

One does not need to be far from home for this situation to become reality.

Is there someone in your life that has no background in the Church or the Bible? Do you go on mission or business trips that involve cultures where there are few if any Christ followers? Is there someone who has moved to your neighborhood as a refugee, as a university student from another country, or as an international businessperson? I suspect that God has already given you a desire to demonstrate and share the Good News with these people. But here is the question: Are you prepared to share your faith graciously and with words that effectively communicate with someone who is from a faith and background far different from yours?


Created in God’s Image

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus looked his disciples in the eyes and made a shocking declaration: “You are the light of the world.” We are created in the image of God. One aspect of God’s image is our Creator’s gracious willingness to bring light into darkness. When Jesus identified his disciples as the light of the world, he announced that in the core of our redeemed souls is the ability and passion to spread the light of Christ. This is our spiritual DNA. You were made for more than the enjoyment of your forgiveness and the other blessings of God. You were made to shine. As we allow God’s Spirit to shine through our words and actions, we bring God glory, and we join God’s mission to transform the world with the love of Jesus. 


Transformation Needed

To shine more brightly, most of us will need a transformation of our attitude as well as our actions. As you seek God’s help in reclaiming your identity as the light of the world, the Spirit will change how you see your role in God’s mission and the way you live out your faith. In this transformation, passion will replace dread, urgency will replace idleness, expectancy will replace a lack of faith, engagement will replace spectatorship, intentionality will replace haphazardness, confidence will replace insecurity, and daily shining will replace episodic shining. A casual approach to shining for God will be replaced by an attitude of adventure that seeks to change the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.


Maximum Impact

Our Savior is calling us to live in such a way that our lives will have maximum impact on the world with the good news of God’s love. We are invited to live as lights shining brightly in darkness. This high-light approach to life does not happen without focus and work. Think about Jesus’s lantern illustration in Matthew 5:14-16. To get a lantern to the most strategic place in a room, we might have to string a rope from the ceiling or fashion a lampstand that can hold the lamp high. This strategic shining takes effort. There is a risk and a cost for anyone who determines to reflect the maximum amount of God’s light. But the glory of God and the urgent needs of the world deserve our best.


Communicating Clearly

Sharing your faith story is the most important and effective ministry you will ever have. All other ministry methods will be effective only to the extent that you have a clear, winsome, Christ-honoring testimony. For biblical examples, see the testimonies of Paul (Acts 21:37-22:21) and the blind man that Jesus healed (John 9:1-27). Many believers, however, never take time to carefully consider and describe the process through which they began to follow Jesus or the reasons that they began this journey. As important as this preparation is to be an effective witness in one’s own culture, it is even more important for those wanting to make a positive impact for Jesus with people who are from a background and culture far different than our own. 


We prepare for many things in life that we deem important or enjoyable. We prepare for a career with education. We prepare for marriage with counseling. We carefully prepare for the dinner we are cooking for friends. Are you prepared to honor Christ with a clear, humble testimony when you are given the opportunity?

This article (Part I) offers a theological framework and motivation for preparing a testimony that is more likely to be understood and appreciated in all settings. Part II of this article provides practical guidance on how to prepare that type of testimony.

Regardless of your personality or vocation, you can be ready to share. Your words can shine!

The Uniqueness of Christ by Maxie Dunnam

This is the second article in a series of articles Maxie is writing about the beliefs of evangelism. Click here for the first article.

For most of my ministry life, over 70 years, my calling has been expressed as a pastor in a local congregation. Evangelism is a matter of the Christian community sharing the good news of a Savior with those who do not know him. So, evangelism is neither Christian proclamation alone, nor Christian presence alone. It is both. Thus my understanding, reflecting, and teaching on evangelism is focused in the local church. It is essential then that we first reflect on that which shapes the church.

The Church is God’s idea – the continuing incarnation of Christ in the world. But your church, my church, is a community of folks who have a specific identity at the corner of Poplar Avenue and Grove Park in Memphis. Sometimes what shapes our church and the church is quite different.

The degree to which our church looks like the church is dependent upon our whole being – our ideas and how we put those ideas into action.

The relation between what we think and what we do, what we say and how we live, is a very important one for us as Christians. This relation between word and deed is one that generates a great deal of debate. Some, like the great theologian Karl Barth, have said that evangelism, and thus faith and conversion, can only begin with what we know, say, and preach about Christ. Others, like some contemporary liberation theologians, argue that the words of the evangelist are empty unless they are preceded by deeds which meet the needs and bind up the wounds of those who suffer as they watch and listen.

Much is at stake in this debate. There are dangers on every side. Some fear that if we concentrate on doing deeds of mercy and justice, we will lose the unique focus on Christ which gives us our identity. Others point out that a concern only with preaching and right dogma can render our words empty, meaningless, and irrelevant.

No one has solved every riddle that resides at the heart of this debate, but we can’t simply cast it aside. I recognize the importance of the debate, and I want to address pastors and laity of local congregations about where I believe we must take our main bearings. The fact to keep in mind is this: ideas have consequences.

To underscore that fact I begin with this dogmatic assertion: What you think of Jesus Christ will determine what you do about evangelism. I believe the greatest theological barrier to evangelism today is a diminished belief in the uniqueness of Christ. What we think of Christ determines what we do about evangelism.

This has been the ongoing debate of the World Council of Churches for years. In 1968, on the eve of the WCC Assembly, Donald McGavran asked, “Will Upsala betray the 2 billion?” He charged that the World Council had given up concern for the 2 billion people of the earth who had neither heard of Jesus Christ nor had any real chance to believe in him as Lord and Savior.

Philip Potter, who was then secretary of evangelism for the WCC, addressed similar issues in 1967 when he asked the central committee, “Is evangelism at the heart of the life and work of the WCC? What does the WCC mean when it speaks of evangelism? What is to be done to manifest more evidently the central concern of the WCC and its member churches for evangelism?” 

Both Potter and McGavan were raising the question of ‘where is Christ in what we proclaim?’

It continues to be good for every level of the church to ask itself, “Is evangelism at the heart of our life and work?” 

Again, ideas have consequences. No matter where we begin, or how we pursue the notion that evangelism is the core mission of the church, the central issue is the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. He is the incarnate love of God offered as God’s saving grace for lost humanity. What we think about Jesus Christ determines what we do about evangelism.

This is the second article in a series Maxie is writing on the beliefs we hold about evangelism. Come back to Wesleyan Accent next week for the third installment.

The Power To Do by Kimberly Reisman

Scripture Focus:

Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper; he was at dinner when a woman came in with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the ointment on his head. Some who were there said to one another indignantly, “Why this waste of ointment? Ointment like this could have been sold for over three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor;” and they were angry with her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you upsetting her? What she has done for me is one of the good works. You have the poor with you always, and you can be kind to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me. She has done what was in her power to do: she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. I tell you solemnly, wherever throughout all the world the Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told also, in remembrance of her.” (Mark 14:3-9, The Jerusalem Bible)


Last month we focused on discovering God’s created purpose for our lives – our Kingdom niche. Integral to that process is the issue of power. If we’re to gain a sense of God’s plan, we must also gain a sense of our power. We may not always feel it, but God has given each of us inner power – the ability to achieve purpose. History has shown society’s tendency to try to take aware our sense of power – sometimes by deception, sometimes by sheer force. Yet God has given us a gift of power, and recognizing it is crucial to finding our Kingdom niche.

Discerning our inner power enables us to act boldly in the present as we seek to faithfully follow Jesus. As we exercise our power in the present, we’re also able to worry less about the future, knowing that God is guiding that future. Helen Bruch Pearson describes the connection between our inner power and our daily lives in her reflections about the witness of Scripture. She writes, “The voices of my unnamed sisters from long ago in the Gospel have taught me to be less anxious about tomorrow when I have done what is in my power to do today.” [1]

Do what you have the power to do today. Even after all the years since reading Pearson’s book, that phrase has stuck with me. It comes from the story about the woman who anointed Jesus with oil, our theme Scripture for this month. This woman acted boldly. She entered a gathering to which she had not been invited. She broke the rigid social constraints and protocol that restricted women’s behavior during that time in history. She asserted herself enough to touch and anoint Jesus without asking. She realized somehow that the time to do something for Jesus was quickly passing. If she was to act in any way, she had to act now. But what could she do? She was only a woman, with little or no power of her own. But as Jesus said, she did what was in her power to do; “she poured a senseless amount of precious perfumed ointment of Jesus’ head.” [2]

Each of us – women and men – has the power to do something – something that is uniquely ours to do. We may not be able to do very much, or we may be able to do a great deal. The amount is irrelevant. God asks only that we do what we have the power to do.

The good news is that our power is always magnified by God’s power. Our inner power, which is itself a gift from God, is augmented by God’s own power. When I had been in ministry only a few years, I attended an evangelism conference. It was a powerful experience. I was surrounded by talented people who were doing exciting things for God. The conference closed with dynamic worship that ended in a time of group prayer with people spontaneously offering their prayers aloud.

As more people prayed, I had the intense feeling of God’s presence – not just in the service but within me. I realized what I was currently doing was not all that God had in store for me. As the praying continued the spiritual depth in the room overwhelmed me. I felt completely out of my league and overcome by an intense feeling of unworthiness and inability. I felt utterly ill-equipped to do what I felt God was calling me to do – reach out to non-Christians and nurture the spirits of newcomers to the faith.

In that moment I was ready to abandon the entire thing: I wanted to get out of that room as quickly as I could. But then I felt the full weight of God’s power on me; I couldn’t move. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t budge; I had to sit down.

With people standing and praying all around me, I heard God’s word to me, “None of that matters. You may be ill-equipped. I know you do not have all the ability. But none of that matters. You will do what you are able, and I will do the rest. I am your source of power and strength. It is not you who is working; it is me working through you.”

As time has passed, the power and truth of God’s words have become clear. My ministry has unfolded in ways that have affirmed God’s power to work through me. I am doing what I am able; and God continues to be faithful in doing the rest.

We all have a life purpose, created by God especially for us. God has been crafting it for you since you were born, wiring you in a particular way, giving you special gifts and talents. Following Jesus is about receiving the guidance we need, and doing what we have the power to do. When we’re open to that, we receive God’s power to sustain and strengthen us. In this way we’re able to make strong connections between our faith and our daily lives, act on those connections, and find the niche in the Kingdom that only we can fill.

As you pray and fast this month, remember that the scope of our abilities is always magnified by God’s power. There is always room for God to use us to do great and tremendous things – things that we never thought we could do. Those great things, however, are often composed of many smaller things, things that are in our power to do.

My prayer for you this month is that you would begin to see the way your current activities fit into the larger work of God. That you would come to discover the way God desires to use all the “small” things that comprise your daily life as part of his overall Kingdom plan. And that as you follow Jesus, you would indeed, do what you have the power to do.




[1] Helen Bruch Pearson, Do What You Have the Power to Do: Studies of Six New Testament Women, Upper Room Books, 1992, p12.

[2] Pearson, p46.

My Calling by Maxie Dunnam

I’m 89 years old. I received what was called a “local preacher’s license” when I was 17. During these 72 years since, though the expression of my calling at times has differed, I have sought to be an effective pastor and preacher.

I have kept two “heroes” alive in memory as I have exercised my calling. One of those is Wiley Grissom. In my book, God Outwitted Me,  this is a part of what I wrote about this hero. 

“Brother Grissom, a John the Baptist kind of guy, was the pastor of Eastside Baptist Church,…He was a fifth-grade educated preacher, with no formal theological training, but he was a powerful preacher. Years later, at age 60, I became the president of Asbury Theological Seminary, a graduate school training young men and women for ministry. In that setting…I often thought of Brother Grissom. Memory of him kept me aware of the fact that calling and anointing are as important as education.”

My calling was to preach. That calling has been formally expressed in different ways. It has not been restricted to preaching; it has been witnessing, with the whole of my life, to the salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ. I’m going to reflect on it in blogs/articles in the weeks ahead. I seek to keep the fact that beliefs matter alive in my awareness.

Just in case we need some definitions as we begin, the word evangel is a transliteration of a Greek word which means “good tidings” or “‘good news.” The New Testament word had two basic uses: one, the good news proclaimed regarding the kingdom of God; two, the good news about Jesus. Jesus both proclaimed the good news of the coming of the kingdom and embodied the good news in his life. Jesus’ life, his relations with people, his teaching and preaching, his healings and other miracles, culminating in his death, resurrection, and ascension, revealed and manifested in what the kingdom is like. 

God’s sovereign future rule broke into the present in Jesus Christ. Through his love and forgiveness, his ministry of compassion, a new life of freedom and service and an entry into God’s kingdom were made available. That ministry was continued by the early Christians “in the name of Jesus Christ.” They testified and preached about Jesus Christ. They acted in his name, and those who responded became part of the Christian community. So, evangelism is the demonstration and proclamation of the gospel.

We need to remember that the evangelistic activity of the early church was not limited to preaching. Everything the church was called to be and do in its worship, witness, fellowship, and service was infused and informed by evangelism.

That’s my frame of reference in talking about evangelism. But, I don’t mean by this that evangelism is everything the church does. That’s far too broad to have driving meaning. I do mean that everything the church does should contribute to its evangelistic task. Archbishop William Temple’s definition of evangelism is a good one: “Evangelism is the winning of persons to acknowledge Christ as their Savior and King, so that they may give themselves to his service in the fellowship of the church”!

Nothing less than that is evangelism. It’s a matter of the Christian community sharing the good news of a Savior with those who do not know him. So, evangelism is neither Christian proclamation alone, nor Christian presence alone. It is both. 

This is the first article in a series Maxie is writing on the beliefs we hold about evangelism. Come back to Wesleyan Accent next week for the second installment.

A Solid Foundation by Brian Yeich

For over a year, we have been renovating my grandparents’ house which was built in 1943. We replaced windows, electrical and plumbing. Progress was visible as the house came into form, yet all the while, lurking underneath, problems were brewing. 

Confession is good for the soul, and mine is that we should have inspected and addressed the foundation first. As we began to uncover the original subfloor of the house, the problems became evident. For those who don’t know, Louisiana has a very humid climate. Humidity is not friendly to pier and beam houses constructed with wood beams and floor joists. Floorboards were rotten, cracked and disintegrating. However, it was even worse than we knew. As we began cutting out the bad subfloor, we discovered that the floor joists were also deteriorated and needed to be replaced. Our carpenter surmised that some of the damage came from above, but in other places the damage started below and then came to the surface. 

This leads me to another confession. I sometimes approach my own spiritual life in the same manner. I address those things I can see – the things on the surface, but I fail to allow the Holy Spirit to plumb the depths and address those foundational issues in my soul. If I am committed to Jesus and committed to a life of missional discipleship, I must keep an eye on the foundation. Just like our house, if there are problems in the foundation, they will eventually come to the surface. When that happens, the stage has been set for struggles, temptations and broken relationships. 

Just like my house, I can’t always see the foundation problems myself. I need to be in community with others who are joining me as we follow Jesus. The early Methodist movement was characterized by these kinds of relationships. People watched over one another in love as they met in class meetings, bands and other small group contexts with the goal of being formed into the likeness of Jesus. From the Holy Club’ to his dying days, John Wesley understood that deep community and spiritual friendships were essential to pursuing the life Jesus calls us to.  

I know many Christians who don’t have such valuable spiritual friendships in their lives and that saddens me. Many of these Christians look like they have it all together. Just like the new windows on our house, it seems things are in great shape until a real challenge comes. Then the weakness in the foundation becomes clear. Things begin to crumble, creak and ultimately, crash. 

I think we can still learn from John Wesley and the people called Methodists who pursued Christian holiness by gathering with spiritual friends.  This model can still help us grow closer to Jesus.

As of today, I belong to four fellowship bands connected with the Inspire Movement. Inspire Fellowship Bands are updated Wesleyan bands of two to four persons meeting together to help each abide deeply with God and live missionally in the world. Each of my bands is unique. One is a local fellowship band with a friend from college. The others, which meet on Zoom, include an Irishman, a missionary to Eastern Europe, a Texan, and guys from Indiana, California and the Carolinas. These are very different groups, yet each gives the others permission to examine the “foundations” of our souls. While our conversation may sometimes drift to the mundane, we try to draw each other back to what is really happening deep in our souls as we follow Jesus. Those foundational questions like, “How is it with your soul?” keep us focused on the underpinnings of our faith and not just what’s on the surface. 

My friend and mentor, Dr. Phil Meadows often laments that the lack of real Christian community in our modern times is a major factor in why people have left.  Along those lines, I recently read a new book, The Great Dechurching. The book seems to make a good effort to understand who is leaving and why they are leaving church. The authors identify several de-churched groups who identify community, friendships, and belonging as the reasons people have left the church, and some of the reasons they might return. It could be argued that these persons found their churches lacking a sense of deep Christian community and thus few calls or opportunities to examine their “foundations.” 

With an unexamined foundation, problems will eventually come to the surface. When they do, people without community often cannot navigate the challenges. As the challenges mount, the very church which could be remodeling their faith gets blamed and left behind.

So, what do we do? 

We all need to examine our own foundations. In order to do that we need trusted spiritual friends to speak into that reflection, help us draw closer to Jesus, and follow the nudges of the Spirit to shore up that foundation. For those of us in leadership, this is especially urgent as people are leaving the church. People around us need not just another face-lift but a deeper examination. This means we have to have our own house in order, from the floor joists through the utilities to the finish. Once we have tended to our own solid foundations, then we can begin helping others find those spiritual friends who can help them walk with Jesus. 


To learn more about the Inspire Movement, visit:

Little Christs by Maxie Dunnam

Christians are “little Christs.” Being Christian is being Christ in the world. What Christ has been and done for us, as Christians we must be and do for the others. We must live as Christ in our daily relationships.

If my expression, “little Christ,” is new to you, maybe even a bit troubling, I remind you that Martin Luther was convinced that Christians are to be “little Christs.” We Christians are to be a continuation of the Incarnation. 

The apostle Paul talked about the Church being the Body of Christ – a continuation of the incarnation. He expressed it concretely, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, … and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 18 NKJV). What Christ has been and done for us, as Christians we must be and do for the world.

What does it mean to communicate Christ’s presence to others, to be “little Christs” to the world? Two biblical images are useful: disciple and pilgrim

As disciples, we are apprenticed to our Master, Jesus Christ. A disciple is a learner, not in an academic sort of way, but in the same way that one is an apprentice to a craft-person; learning the craft at the work site while doing the actual work. So, as Christians, we are always in a growing-learning relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pilgrim adds to the meaning of being a disciple because it suggests that we are going someplace; we are on a journey. We are journeying to God, and on that journey we walk in the company of Jesus, who is our guide.

Jesus expressed it emphatically: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). When Jesus wanted to define the meaning of discipleship, he asked people to grow and go with Him.

A story in the New Testament clarifies this call of Jesus. A young rich man, a ruler of the people, came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him to keep the commandments. He responded that he had kept the commandments; that was the desire of his life, and he was committed to doing that. But Jesus, always perceptive about persons, made this piercing observation, “You lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Then he added this invitation, “Come, follow me.” (Luke 18:18-22 MKJV)

The call is clear – it is a  call to be a pilgrim, to walk with Jesus, to be his disciple.

Discipling Over Programming

by Rob Haynes
Teaching Pastor
Christ Wesleyan Church


I’m Sorry I Didn’t Make Disciples Sooner

I come to you today with a confession: 

I failed to take seriously the command of Jesus to make Disciples. For too long, in my three decades of ministry, I ignored the simple and direct command of Scripture to make disciples who will make disciples. It wasn’t on purpose. I thought I was doing a great job, but I now know that I was woefully deficient. 

Alongside this confession, I am hopeful, more so than ever. I am convinced, more than ever, that our denominational heritage of discipleship in Classes and Bands, the original Wesleyan/Methodist Small Groups, is the answer for the current and future church. However, for nearly thirty years I missed that message. As I said, it was not a sin of commission, rather of omission. Allow me to illustrate.

I began serving in ministry in the mid-1990’s. The prevailing model of ministry at the time was to build great programs. If we built a great program, then many people would come. Some of them might return. They would get involved in another program that might keep them connected to the church. A few of those would go a little deeper and might lead another program. You get the idea: we were taught to program so that we could build a program that would build programs. 

Allow me to brag just a moment: I became good at building programs. I could build something that could get people to come out and even some of them would return. As a youth pastor, I created events for students after football games that attracted hundreds of teenagers. I put together some great mission trips to some cool places. As an associate and lead pastor, I replicated these practices with adults. The names changed, but the methods were the same.  

However, I am not sure I made many disciples. When I look at the mandate of the gospel, I see several things pointing me to make disciples, but nothing about occupying people’s time with programs.

This may seem a little harsh. It may even seem foolhardy to some people. You may be reading this and thinking that I am crazy for not wanting to attract people. However, I have found that if we spend all our time in ministry merely trying to attract people according to the current whims of the culture, then they will merely move along to the next thing that catches their attention.

I was confronted with this reality in a couple of conversations when I was a youth minister.

One day, I ran into Anthony walking into church on a Sunday morning, guitar in hand. Anthony was an influential teenager in our church. He was a talented musician, a leader in his school, and was friendly and outgoing. I asked him if he was coming to the really cool thing that I had planned for next Saturday. I can’t even remember what I had programmed, but it was another way of keeping people busy at the church. His reply cut me to the quick: “I’ll come if I can’t find anything better to do.” Ouch! This was one of the key people I expected to see there! If he wasn’t going to come, I was in trouble.

The second was with some parents of the students in my ministry. On a Sunday morning we were talking in the Sunday School hallway in between the worship hour and the Sunday School hour. They were lamenting that their teenage children were not coming to church. Their conclusion was this: With absolute resolution parents should get their teens out of bed and bring them to church! Then it hit me: of the three or four families standing before me, none of their teens were in church that morning. When I asked why this was, they each sheepishly offered half-hearted excuses of tired children or over-programmed schedules. 

The church, and me as their minister, was not offering anything different than what they were getting anywhere else. I was just putting Jesus’ name on it. Much like retailers competing for market share, I was competing for the attention of teens with forces that grab their attention much better than I could. 

I wish I could tell you that I learned my lesson immediately. Oh, if only. However, I succumbed to the pressures of these forces for several more years in ministry. If you serve in ministry, maybe you have seen it too. It takes on different shapes depending on the place and target age groups. It can look like “Caring Ministry”, “Pastoral Care”, “Age-Level Programming”, “Men’s Breakfast”, or even “Sunday School” and “Small Groups.” 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the church being a center of community activity or with providing fellowship for those who are facing loneliness, isolation, or disenfranchisement. However, we must be cautious not to confuse programmed entertainment with discipleship. And the Church’s primary role is to make DISCIPLES, not to merely entertain those who show up.

I did not learn this soon enough. I continued to make the mistake of following the whims of my church members. They wanted to be entertained, and to put the church’s name on it. Sure, we talked about the Bible. We talked about Jesus. We enjoyed one another’s company. However, I seldom saw life-changing ministry happening. I blamed many things, but rarely the right thing: My failure to make more and maturing disciples.

So, at this stage in my ministry, I have decided to put all my energies into disciple-making over programming. In the church we planted a few years ago we have made this the key focus of everything we do. This, by no means, reduces the role of mission or evangelism. Rather, just the opposite. Because I do not treat them like a programming audience, it means that I am not solely responsible for mission or evangelism. It means I am learning to walk with people as they discover the Holy Spirit’s desire as to how they should serve in faith sharing with others. The best way I have seen to do this is right in the middle of our heritage as Wesleyans as demonstrated in the Class and Band Meetings. 

Let’s face it: the Church is facing several challenges today, challenges from which the Wesleyan/Methodist movement is not immune. I do not fear for the future of the church. Rather, the global and historical witness of people committed to discipleship gives me hope. 

The GPS/SatNav in my car gives me an important reminder about this hope. When I lose my way, it tells me that it is time to “recalculate” and get back on the road heading the correct direction. It is time to get back on the path to which God has called us: to make disciples, not merely comfortable and entertained church-attenders.

This is my confession. May You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, spare those who confess their faults, restore those who are repentant, and grant that we may hereafter live a godly and righteous life. Amen.