I am indebted to J. D. Walt, Jr., our Sower-in-Chief at Asbury who both envisioned and heads up our Seedbed operation who reminded me recently of the need for a “moon shot” initiative. What he was alluding to was that electrifying moment on October 25, 1961 when J. F. Kennedy stood before Congress and said, “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” The technology was not yet there to do it. There were hundreds of naysayers who said it would be impossible. But, we did it. It was done because everyone understood the goal and it lit the flame of determination to overcome every obstacle and to see a dream become a reality.
What is our “moon shot” goal? As Wesleyans we must remember that our goal is nothing less than the renewal and growth of a global Wesleyan movement, resulting in a sustained Great Awakening, stimulating dozens of new Christian movements in the 21st century and beyond. That’s what we are aiming for. That is what Asbury Theological Seminary is committed to. I believe that Asbury is uniquely positioned with the people, the resources, and the national and global footprint to foster such a grand vision. There are many others, of course, who will stand with us and with whom we will stand if this is to become a reality. Many of us saw a glimpse of this at the recent “New Room” Conference, as this article in First Things so beautifully declares.
What we must not do is to forget what we are fighting for. Our goal is not to simply get the church to agree to an historic Christian position on marriage. Even if the church makes a dramatic turn from its present trajectory and re-affirms its historic position or if some new Wesleyan movement emerges, it cannot be about this one issue. If a newly emerged “orthodox Methodist” or “Conservative Methodist” (or whatever name one might call it) does arise and it is only the existing United Methodist church with those few disputed lines in the Discipline re-affirmed, it would avail the world very little. What we need is a completely re-energized, Spirit-filled, gospel preaching, holy living, disciple making, Wesleyan movement which will set the world on fire once again! We represent the movement which has reminded the church that justification is not enough. Indeed, “the rest of the gospel is the best of the gospel.”
Right now we are in such a demoralized state we can barely lift our head and look to the moon and think that we can make it “there and back again.” We settle for tiny advances in our local church or we just try to block out all the clamor so we can remember the historic faith in our own hearts and pray for a day when God will raise up better hearers of his word. But, what if we dared to dream that God just might do something greater than we could possibly imagine? What if God opened our eyes to see that He was going to renew the Wesleyan message in our day? What if we had the courage to ask God for the Wesleyan version of the “moon shot?”
I’m choosing to believe that we are going to live to see the complete renewal of a global Wesleyan movement. Asbury has our first cohort of 20 Wesleyan church planters. We will have trained 400 by 2023. Asbury is training hundreds of Spirit-filled ministers who love God who preach his Word and weep for the lost and broken in this world. Asbury is helping hundreds of churches to get re-missionized and re-discover what it means to be the church. These are just a few seeds for the harvest. Many others in our movement are also sowing for this great awakening. Let’s go to the moon, shall we?