Reflections on how far we've come : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

It as been said that unless you know where you are going, you won't know when you've arrived OR how far you've come. It has also been said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

So let's do a quick check.

Question 1: What have you, your church, your conference, or your district done to further the Word and ministries of God?

Question 2: What can you, your church, your conference, or your district do to further the Word and ministries of God?

Question 3: What ARE you, your church, your conference, or your district doing to further the Word and ministries of God?

Question 2 has been asked before. Question 3 is being asked in a roundabout way with our recent posts.

On February 08, 2000, Rev. John Fisher started a thread titled "How can the A.M.E. Church be a better vechicle for liberation and salvation today?". It read thusly:

"A wise supervisor at work once told me, many people can air complaints but few have the knack for rendering solutions.

Often times, as Rev. Joe Darby reminded me, we use discussion to air our dirty laundry and to complain about the state of the church and its policies. But how often do we approach this same church from the other angle...and suggest ways it can be even more effective a tool for evangelism, social change and salvation.

The A.M.E. Church has a bedrock foundation. There are no excuses for it not becoming strong as it grows older. How do you feel it can become even more effective.? " There were only three responses. Here they are:

"I believe our church has to return to its Evangelical roots. We have to be a church that is on fire for the Lord. We have to hold strong to the belief that the Word of God is the only way that man can come to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have to stick to the biblical teachings about Holiness and live by them. We have to become more inclusive as a church and realize that God calls us to minister to all people and that we have to be aggressive in doing this. "

Rev. Kenneth Young

"If the AME Church is going to be an effective vessel for liberationa and salvation it needs to first of all have an critical and independent assessment of its current organizational structure. By this I mean, we should have a top-rated management consulting firm like McKinsey & Co. or Andersen Consulting look at this denomination thoroughly, recommend changes and make swift implementation. Currently the bureaucratic, top-layer structure is an impediment to achieve the goals you cite. The realignment of Episcopal Districts is a good first step but more is needed to increase membership. There are over 30 million black folks in the US yet barely one million are AME's? Am I the only one who see something fundamentally wrong with this picture. The fastest growing cities in the US are west of the Mississippi River [Albequerqe, NM, Pheonix, AZ, Denver, CO, Las Vegas, NV]. Whay are there no aggressive recruitment campaigns to add churches in these places? As the previous poster correctly noted absent evangelism as a centerpiece of our theology the result will only be lethargic growth and churches full of holes not full of the Holy Ghost!!! "

Bill Dickens

"From an historical stand point, our denomination had a vision and mission and a purpose. What is our purpose? It wasn't just about saving souls for Richard Allen. It was more than that. From an historic perspective we were on the the cutting edge. The civil rights movement was not started in the late 50's or 60's, it was started when a group of freed slaves decided to be self determining. From that move, schools were built,churches were built, book concerns were established, newspapers where founded, distribution networks were formed, mission work was done in foreign fields and in the U.S...This was all done before the 20th century. Collectively, our founders has less resources and did more. They acted as a "WE" with a joint vision and mission... Look at our progress after 1930. It is my contention, that is the historic moment in our history that we stopped working from the perspective of "WE" and move to the perspective of "I". NO longer was the mission and vision collective. It became a lot of individual visssion and missions...Look at your history. When was the last time that we look at it collectively as a topic of discussion. The Mission and vision of the A.M.E Church isn't known in the hearts of its membership and leadership. It is simply relegated to the pages of the dicipline, where it has become lifeless verbage on a page. Mission and vision are organic i.e. they have life, they evolve, and they die. But death of vision and mission is directly related to how they are nurtured and maintain. I ask again, when have we look at the mission and vision of this denomination and made it a collective topic of discussion? "

Rev. Carl F. Hunter II

In 2004, we are asking the SAME questions. Are we a church on a mission? What is that mission? What do we stand for? What do we believe? How can we better ourselves?

And now we have added more issues: The war in Iraq, gay marriages (March 14, 1998), the problems in the 17th District.

I pray that we won't be asking the same questions in 2008. It is no longer a time for doctrinal or biblical rhetoric; It is a time for action. We cannot be afraid to stand up for what our church believes in. We cannot be afraid to call sin sin. We cannot be lukewarm any longer. To ask a question posed by Vernon Byrd August 4, 2000, "Which of the 7 churches in Revelations best describes AME Church?"

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2004


Rev Harper, may i salute you for what i can call AMEC Quadrennial assessment questions. They are excellent administrative probing questions which all members in good and regular standing must answer irrespective of their status in the church. I going to re print the same questions for circulation to all prechers in our PE district during the meeting this coming Saturday.God bless the AMEC my church sweet church.

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2004

A church/denomination can fulfill the Great Commission using worldly methods such as debate, marketing, and programs. These lead to a degree of success, and my church uses them.

Then there's the Book of Acts method. A church, or part of a church gets into one accord. To really get into one accord they have to know the mind of God, and that takes time in His presence. They have to hear from Him, then yield their own agenda. That takes humility and brokeness. Like the early church they have to be emptied. They need to learn the truth that on their own they can't do anything. It has to be all God. That sets aside the programs, educational degrees, talents, and other sources of pride.

Next they pray extensively in agreement over a period of time, and at some point the Holy Spirit comes on these people in supernatural power. Signs and wonders explode, word gets out, and people flock to the Lord literally thousands at a time. It has happened many times since the 1st century. Note Azusa St, Cain Ridge, Brownsville Assembly in Pensacola, the Welsh revival, and the Great Awakening.

Neither method is wrong, but the first method is second best by far. The second method is costly, and not just in time and effort. It might even involve emptying a church until it gets to a Godly core of hungry people who are willing to pay the price. As Leonard Ravenhill said, "God isn't so interested in filling churches as He is filling hearts." We have too many churches with full pews but empty hearts.

The reason the same questions are being asked year after year on this board, and in churches across the country is the worldly methods don't impact an entire region, and indeed the world. They may cause a stir if they're professionally done, but the effects aren't on a Book of Acts scale.

Bottom line: Those asking these questions are wondering how to crack the shell and see a movement. A price has to be paid to get what they, and God want to see.

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2004


I find your observation insightful and worthy. I hesitated to respond to the initial post because of the rush of emotion and thought that flooded my heart. But you have said it well.

God Bless,

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2004

Another poster asked what Biblical Christianity is. It is found in the Book of Acts and fleshed out in the Epistles. Jesus' Words in the Gospels were first lived out and expounded upon by the first Christians. They are our example. What do we find?

1. Mass conversions

2. Daily miracles

3. Truly needy people cared for, but those who wouldn't work didn't eat. Hunger was actually a motivation tool to righteousness.

4. Instead of misusing the "judge not lest you be judged" Scripture as an excuse to tolerate sin (alternative lifestyles), Paul asked, "Shall we keep on sinning that grace may much more abound? May it never be". They understood that the way is narrow.

5. Missionary activity and how! They turned the world upside down and filled cities with their teaching.

6. They prayed and the building was shaken

7. Those who contested the doctrine of the Apostles, which included anti-homosexual teaching, were counted as cursed.

8. Those who refused to leave their sin were delivered over to satan for their own good. When they'd repented they were welcomed back with joy.

As I see how so many on this board describe their churches I see one description all too often: "My church is made up mostly of the elderly". This is a description of a dying church.

If you wonder what every church should be doing, seek a Book of Acts revival.

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2004

The Acts of the Apostles "The Book of Acts" describes examples what the apostles did and the results of such action. Therefore the "Acts" must be considered in light of the Body of teaching in the Holy Scriptures. It is not a "Howto" book.

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2004

I agree with everything RP stated in his response. Excellent observation. He took the words right out of my mouth. The AME church that I am attending while in college is trying to model the Book of Acts (somewhat) in their ministry and the church is growing in a mighty way by the power of God (spiritual, in membership, and finanically). The Book of Acts is a fine guide for church growth. I have seen the positive evidence at this church.

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2004

Bro Allen: I assume your church is adhering to the principle of selling all personal property, keeping things common, and giving the proceeds to the church, as they did in the Acts of the Apostles. If you use it as law, you have to keep the whole law. I reiterate the "Acts of the Apostles" with the emphasis that it is the doings of the apostles that is recorded for us; the admonition is for us to do as they did when they are right and to not do as they did when they are wrong.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2004

The Acts church members had the choice of doing this. It wasn't compulsory, but by the time it was all said and done the poor were cared for. Ref Peter's words to Ananias - while the money was in his hands it was at his disposal. He could give all, part, or none and no one would say anything to him. Large gifts though did bring praise, and that's what Ananias was after.

Also note Paul's admonition to the Gentile churches to SET ASIDE a portion of their income according to each person's means.

That's different from socialism where each person is compelled to give everything. The Book of Acts model is doable, and if it's not taken up at least to some degree the people on this board will be asking the same questions in 2050.

Really though, the focus is on the supernatural aspects. The property pieces of the puzzel are just the outflow of people's hearts. What I'm transfixed by is the way they prayed down God's power on a massive scale, and the world was turned upside down.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2004

RP, Fred, & Ron,

I was one who made the mistake of logging in on the discussion board in 2004. No one told me of the 1998 question. Even if they had, we must continue to ask questions until we see some results.

Jesus is alive and our ministries should reflect it. I thank God for your spirit to promote the kingdom and African Methodism.

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2004

God does not "compel" us to do anything. He tells us that without Christ we are lost, condemned already, John 3:17. He gave his son to save us. It is the free gift of God. We can accept or reject the gift. It breaks God's heart if his creatures reject him but he will not compel him.

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2004

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