9 Oct 2017
An important reason for the success of the Methodist Revival movement in eighteenth-century England was small groups. During the summer session in June, the seminary together with Mount Pisgah UMC, North Georgia Conference, organized the conference “Disciples Making Disciples.” The conference was dedicated to disciple-making and covenant groups.
This conference is an important step in strengthening the tradition of small groups in the United Methodist Churches in Eurasia.
Over sixty students, pastors, and lay leaders of the Eurasia UMC were immersed into the atmosphere of early Methodism and experienced for themselves how this traditionally Methodist form of Christian life can strengthen our contemporaries in becoming committed disciples of Christ.
Twenty years after his “warm heart” experience on Aldersgate Street, John Wesley wrote in his Journal: “I was more convinced than ever before that the preaching like an apostle, without the joining together those that are awakened and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer. How much preaching has there been for these twenty years all over Pembrokeshire! But no regular societies, no discipline, no order, no connection. And the consequence is that nine in ten of those once awakened are now faster asleep than ever.”
John Wesley learned a lesson from his experience. The structure of the Methodist movement, which he designed using societies, classes, and bands, became a cause for inspiration among other Revival leaders. George Whitefield, one of the leaders of the Revival Movement, who earlier split from Wesley, summarized the ministry of the two of them in the following way: “My Brother Wesley acted wisely, the souls that were awakened under his ministry he joined in class, and thus preserved the fruits of his labor. This I neglected, and my people are a rope of sand.”
The focus of the ministry “Disciples Making Disciples” is based on three Bible passages: Mt 28:18-20, Mt 4:19, and 2 Tim 2:2. In the Great Commission in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sends his disciples to make other disciples of Christ. In the fourth chapter of the same Gospel, Jesus promises to the disciples following him that he will make them the “fishers of men.” In the second chapter of the Second Epistle to Timothy, the apostle Paul instructs Timothy that what he has heard from Paul in the presence of many witnesses, he should entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.
Christianity is not limited by salvation, but gives an opportunity to progress to a deep and full life of holiness. The goal of a covenant group is to give those Christians who have recognized this possibility the opportunity to walk together on their faith journey over several years. As a result, they gain a deep experience of life in Christ and the ability to start their own covenant groups. Not only are apostles and pastors called to make disciples of Christ, so is every mature Christian searching for fullness in Christian life.
For the next two years, the seminary will continue to hold disciple-making conferences together with Mount Pisgah UMC. In addition to the seminary students, we have invited pastors and leaders who desire to open covenant groups in their ministries to attend these conferences. At the conference thy will receive everything necessary to start this ministry: personal experience, written resources for leading groups, and a mentor who is leading a covenant group in the Eurasian context.
We invite people from the UMC in Eurasia to attend the disciple-making conference “Disciple Making Disciples” this coming year. Those who attended this past year can testify how the Lord touched their hearts and minds. We hope each year people will become better leaders and deeper Christians through this program.
Sergei Nikolaev, PhD
Seminary President and
E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism
Photo by Moscow Seminary
Translate by S. Nikolaev
Read story by Sergei Nikolaev in our site:
“Summer Session 2016 Moscow Theological Seminary“.