What is the 21st century version of the circuit rider?

I was reading John Wigger’s excellent biography of Francis Asbury tonight. Wigger argues that American Methodism took off after the Revolution because the Methodist church connected with the ethos of the country and the nature of the people. It was egalitarian and mobile. Its preachers were men who would have been farmers or laborers had they not preached — so they knew how to speak the language of the people. Thanks to Asbury, the church had a sense of revolutionary zeal of its own.

The account got me wondering what the ethos of our age is and what a church that connects with it would look like. In some ways, I feel like the least well-positioned person to answer this. My range of vision of the wider culture is pretty limited.

What would a church perfectly suited to penetrate American culture look like today?

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2 thoughts on “What is the 21st century version of the circuit rider?

  1. I am not sure that I would want to connect with the culture of today, if for no other reason than it would take us away from the message. If we are limited to 140 characters when we tweet something, how do you make any message about the Gospel meaningful through a tweet?

    There is that discussion going on about putting communion on-line because that is the medium of the moment. But doing so enforces the idea of singularity and singleness when it should be talking about a community.

    When a circuit rider came to an area, he came to a community. We need to rebuild the communities we have and I think that means running against the current culture.

    It will mean that we have to get outside the walls of the sanctuary and that maybe the most difficult thing.

    1. I agree 100% on getting outside the walls. I did not mean to suggest we go to Twitter church, but I do wonder if we understand — in even an intuitive way — the currents and eddies of the culture on which we must navigate.

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