The beginning of a new adventure...
Here's a little bit about how Spirit & Truth began from founder, Matt Reynolds:
God is stirring up something new and yet old at the same time. Across the country there is a new wave of Wesleyan leaders rising up to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a broken and hurting world. There is an awakening that is happening as people rediscover our roots and together find a way doing church that is less about generating religious goods and services and more about how radically the truth of Jesus Christ shapes literally everything about a person's life.
Here is a little bit of my own story and how that led to the formation of Spirit and Truth...
My personal journey in ministry started in middle school. I first started feeling the Lord tug on my heart in 6th grade. By 9th grade the call was undeniable and at a church camp altar I committed my life to full-time ministry, without knowing what exactly that meant or where it would take me.
Interestingly enough during high school I routinely told people, "I know God is calling me to be a pastor, but I won't ever do youth ministry and I won't be a Methodist pastor." Turns out that telling God exactly what you're not going to do isn't necessarily the best approach.
I grew up Methodist. Since I was a baby my family faithfully attended a wonderful United Methodist congregation. I knew delightful people from that church, many who were the biggest shaping influences in my life. And yet there was some part of me that saw the UMC as a dying institution. As a young passionate teenager, who wanted to make a world-shaping impact, I didn't see the Methodist church as the place where that could happen.
My heart changed in college. As I started looking towards seminary and future pastoral ministry I simply could not settle on a different denomination or network. I prayed. I talked with leaders from various denominations. I researched thoroughly in a way that only makes sense to a chronic over-analyzer like myself. I couldn't find peace about where to land.
Finally, one day in prayer I heard clearly from the Lord. "Why are you running away from the spiritual home that shaped your whole life? If you and others like you leave, who will help recover the deep roots of this church that you still love." Somehow in a moment of instant clarity God called me back to the Methodist world, even though I never really left.
I began the journey of learning and credentialing to see that calling through. I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary while continuing to work full-time in local churches. Over the course of nearly 13 years and two congregations I experience some really special ministry. I learned the joys and heartbreaks of real ministry that don't happen on a computer screen or inside a textbook. I carried the weight but incredible privilege of being with real people at their most joyful and most grievous life moments. Through it all I am confident the Lord shaped me more than I ever helped shape anyone else.
And yet if I was honest, in the midst of all that blessing, there was still part of me that felt like something was missing. In the busy consumer-style sort of ministry that church life has become in America today I was hungry to see people live out the Gospel in sacrificial and radical ways. I longed to see real revival and people living by the power of the Spirit. I yearned to see the lost found, the hopeless renewed and consumers become disciples.
In the midst of that yearning I met a new ministry that took the Great Commission seriously. A group of people committed to being led by the Spirit, who refused to just play church games, and were willing to pursue Christ no matter the cost. What happened next was a sort of holy collision.
The Lord called me to do something radical and leave the church that I loved. After much wrestling I stepped aside for a season and began serving as a sort of missionary to the United States. I worked with all kinds of churches and denominations to help equip people to share the Gospel and make disciples. And as I spent more time on the streets and less time in church buildings, something changed in me. God showed me a new vision for how church can look.
Over the course of a year we saw hundreds of people come to Christ for the first time. Dozens upon dozens were baptized and got connected in new discipling relationships. Many times it felt like I was living in the book of Acts...seeing with my own eyes the kind of stuff I had always prayed for.
And in the midst of all of that, not only was the Lord teaching me something new, but he rebirthed my vision for the Wesleyan stream of the church. Much of what I experienced in this new ministry felt more Wesleyan than my years in the Methodist church. Taking the Gospel to the people rather than expecting them to come into a church building, immediate and intentional discipleship, living like the Spirit still works today...these were the things I was learning afresh and these were some of the key hallmarks that helped spark the Wesleyan revival in the first place.
In recent months as I prayed and discerned my future I began to talk with other Wesleyan-minded leaders and a new vision was born. I began to see the way God was raising up a new core of leaders around the country who longed to see an awakening with historic roots. And piece by piece God knit Spirit & Truth together.
This ministry is not the vision or planning of any one person...certainly not me. It's a bubbling up that is happening by the grace of God in pockets around the country. It's a new call to radical obedience that God is stirring in the hearts of his people. It's a new adventure that's not really that new.
John Wesley, after speaking extensively of what it means to be a Methodist, wrote these words in this famous sermon, "The Character of a Methodist"...
If any man say, "Why, these are only the common fundamental principles of Christianity!" thou hast said; so I mean; this is the very truth; I know they are no other; and I would to God both thou and all men knew, that I, and all who follow my judgment, do vehemently refuse to be distinguished from other men, by any but the common principles of Christianity, -- the plain, old Christianity that I teach, renouncing and detesting all other marks of distinction. And whosoever is what I preach, (let him be called what he will, for names change not the nature of things,) he is a Christian, not in name only, but in heart and in life. He is inwardly and outwardly conformed to the will of God, as revealed in the written word.
John Wesley wasn't attempting something new, only calling for a return to the old story that started it all...to call people back to simple obedience. He only wanted people to actually be what they professed. To be "altogether a Christian."
It's the same for us at Spirit & Truth. This is not something new. We don't have all the answers. We aren't the latest and greatest anything. We only desire that the people called Methodists and all those of like heart and mind might be called back to that which compelled us in the beginning...to be altogether Christian in heart and life. To live lives of sacrifice. To care about the lost. To reclaim discipleship that is deeply relational and truly accountable. To pray for God to bring a new awakening.
Honestly, we don't know what the future holds for this new ministry, but we are confident that if we can help even a handful more people live in total obedience to Jesus Christ, it will all be worth it.