Peter Cartwright lived to see the Methodist church transition from a church planting movement of class and band meetings, evangelism, and great spiritual growth to an established church of pews and choirs. Here was his rather harsh words about this transition:
"In the fall of 1803, when I joined the conference, there were a little over 9,000 members in the Western conference; in 1811, 30,741. There were then a little over forty traveling preachers, and in 1810 over one hundred; and yet, at this time, there are not more than six of us left lingering on the shores of time to look back, look around, and look forward to the future of the Methodist Episcopal Church, for weal or for woe Lord, save the Church from desiring to have pews, choirs, organs, or instrumental music, and a congregational ministry, like other heathen Churches around them!“
In a time where we are hungry for revival once again, I wonder if we shouldn’t try to learn a little from our roots.
Maybe it’s time to stop trying to look like other churches with their fancy pews (aka cushioned, interlocking church chairs), organs (aka full worship band), instrumental music (aka lots of expensive lights and sound equipment) and congregational ministry (aka the inward-focused, self-preserving church) and go back to the simple job of making disciples of new people and new communities.