This is our seventh summer in Dallas. Until this point, I have not been a big fan. It's just too dang hot. Now that I have children however, and we have moved to a different apartment, my attitude is changing. We're having a blast. It's so fun to watch the kids having such a good time with bikes, pools, and ice cream. We've especially enjoyed getting to know our neighbors, the Watsons.

We've hit it off. We have a lot in common: little kids, a love for ice cream, and the Christian faith. Kevin is working on his PhD at Perkins Seminary at Southern Methodist University. So, we love chatting theology while we laugh our heads off at the hilarious things our kids do.

One of the many running gags as been about our little Ecumenical movement. Though barely, since we are both Protestants (he's a Methodist, and I'm a Baptist), it's been fun to compare notes and discuss issues from our different perspectives.

Kevin gave me a copy of his book, A Blueprint for Discipleship: Wesley's General Rules as a Guide for Christian Living. It's a short work, 128 pages including the appendices. It's set up in nine chapters and is designed to be used in a small group setting. Kevin is an excellent writer with a gift for clarity and accessibility. You could totally hand this book to a brand new Christian without worries that he or she would be lost in the concepts or vocabulary. Each chapter has a nice review of the previous ground, which is especially helpful if you are going to use this over the course of nine weeks.

Watson's goal is to introduce and recommend John Wesley's method for Christian discipleship which is summarized in Wesley's essay entitled The Nature, Design, and General Rules of the United Societies (often referred to as "The General Rules") The essay is printed in its entirety in Appendix A.

Watson begins by giving the reader some historical background to Wesley and the Methodist tradition. He talks about Wesley's system of tiered meetings of small (band), medium (class), and large groups (Society). He continues by unpacking the General Rules of which there are three: (1) Do no harm; (2) Do all the good you can; and (3) Attend upon the ordinances of God. Watson shows the Biblical basis for these rules, restates them in contemporary lingo, and includes plenty of interesting illustrations to captivate the reader and to show the relevance of Wesley's outline to our present-day context.

Though Watson's intended audience is obviously the Methodist tradition of which he is a part, there are plenty of take-aways for Christians of other stripes. Wesley was an organizational genius, and a brilliant theologian. His wisdom still applies today. Though Protestants of other traditions won't agree with everything, the principle thesis should be universally accepted: Christian discipleship occurs best in gracious, but deliberate and disciplined community. It is not enough to fill our heads with Bible knowledge or drift from worship service to worship service. We must be intentional about asking one another the critical question in the context of loving relationships: "How is it with your soul?"

This book is challenging and convicting. And now that I'm getting to know its author, I appreciate it even more. He loves the Lord and His Church. Thanks, Kevin.

2 comments:

deeplycommitted.com said...

Dan,

Thank you for taking the time to read the book, and for your kind words. Your family has certainly been a blessing to my family.

Kevin

Dan said...

My pleasure.