The World Is My Parish

My vision for the New Year is The Great Awakening 2011 – an initiative seeking an outpouring of God’s Spirit that revives our hearts and sees our homes and profession transformed.  As I’ve prayed about this endeavor, I’m reminded of John Wesley – the father of the American Methodist movement and a catalyst for the original Great Awakening.

An interesting piece of trivia about John Wesley (in case you ever make it to Jeopardy) is that his ministry in America began with his landing on Cockspur Island near Tybee Island and the beautifully historic city of Savannah, GA…my hometown.  He only spent a short time ministering in Savannah before returning to continue his ministry in Europe.

Wesley was a member of the Anglican Church, who never intended to create a new movement.  After a moment of intimacy with God in which he felt his “heart strangely warmed,” he sought to bring revival to nominal Christianity – those who were Christian “in name only” and did not have a true relationship with Christ.  He is the originator of the small group movement, creating groups for accountability and intense training in the Scriptures.  His fervency and dedication led to what was one of the greatest revivals in history.

It has been said that Wesley referred to the world as his parish.  He took literally the command of Christ to “go into all the world and make disciples” (Mark 16:15, Matt 28:19).  He taught a relational approach to discipleship, which was most effective in a small group setting where individuals could pray, learn, and grow together.

We, too, are commanded to go into all the world.  There are differences of opinion as to what exactly that means and how it is accomplished.  One thing is certain:  we must reach others for Christ and lead them into a mature relationship with Him.  I heard a professor once suggest a model for evangelism based on Acts 1:8 in which we should have “four pulpits” – Jerusalem (those closest to us in our homes, professions, etc), Judea (those in surrounding areas), Samaria (the marginalized poor, infirmed, outcasts of society), and the uttermost parts (world missions).

Several months ago, while praying for direction concerning my life and ministry, the Lord spoke.  During a youth service in New York, I clearly heard God say, “If you weren’t so resentful about where I have you then maybe I could use you.”  He placed me in law enforcement with the intention that it would be my Jerusalem, my parish.  I decided then that I would fully commit to reaching my brothers and sisters in blue rather than focusing on the future and my own plans.

God has placed each of us in our respective professions.  He has called each of us to be His minister to those around us.  Every member of the body of Christ is a minister.  Ephesians 4:12 says that the saints – God’s people – are to do the work of the ministry, and what an incredible opportunity for ministry we have in law enforcement!

One of the most inspiring books I have read on this topic of ministry is When There’s No Burning Bush:  Following Your Passions to Discover God’s Call by Eddy Hall and Gary Morsch.  In the coming weeks, I will be writing a series of posts as a study from this book.  My prayer is that it will inspire, encourage, and equip others for ministry as together we seek to bring about spiritual renewal in the law enforcement profession.  Stay tuned!

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