In seminary, I had the privilege of working with Darius Salter on one of his books. I finally got around to reading it. America's Bishop: The Life of Francis Asbury is an important look at one of American Christianity's most influential figures.
Francis Asbury led American Methodism from a small, disdained sect to the leading religious movement of its time. He was more travelled than any other person in his time, and he was more recognized by face than the President of the United States. His leadership set the standard for much of what we see, even now, in American Christianity.
Reading this book reminded me of the commitment it takes to accomplish God's will and call on our lives. Asbury's sole drive in life was to proclaim the saving message of Jesus Christ.
Here are a few quotes:
"Prophets usually alienate their hearers, but a prophetic message does not play well in a revivalistic and rapidly growing church" (pp 310-311). (The prophetic, in this instance, means the role of the church to stand against the wrongs of the culture and world around it.)
"The paradox of leadership is that almost every virtue of the leader can be misconstrued as a vice" (p 348).
Talking about the itinerant ministers of early Methodism: "The surprise is not that men of such uncommon sacrifice would make such a difference; they always do. The wonder is that they would make such a sacrifice" (p 356).
What I found, as I read, is that Asbury and early Methodism faced many of the challenges and problems we still face in the church.
Can a church be both discipleship focused and still reach the lost? Is it possible that we overstep our bounds when we say, "We exist to reach the lost!"? Is that really all the church is about? Reaching the lost?
Is there some place where the two can be combined in a wonderful way...where discipleship grows and thrives, and those disciples see their responsibility to bring the lost to Jesus?
What do you think?