Rev. Don Woolley, an Alabama pastor and leading activist in the movement to make the church a movement again, visited BUSTH on April 24 and 25 to talk with faculty, administrators, students, and Conference leaders of the local UMC about forming missional churches. A response to the end of Christendom, the purpose is to reorient the church from a bunker, deficit mentality to an external focus taking the Gospel out into the world.”There is a difference between reaching out to the community because you need them to survive and reaching out because the community needs Jesus,” said Woolley in his Thursday lecture.
Rev. Woolley is working closely with the Australian Alan Hirsch, founder of Forge International and Forge America, its spin-off in the U.S. Forge does domestic missionary training that is fully grounded in Scripture, something they believe churches forgot because of their status during the seventeen hundred years of Christendom. Their inspiration, rather, is the pre-Constantinian Early Christian Church where Christians took Jesus very seriously in spite of the radical implications of the gospel. They denied themselves. They loved others. Women had authority. And they grew hugely, even though they were illegal and the price of becoming a Christian might be death.
A lively discussion ensued about the differences between the church growth model, which Rev. Woolley feels is basically consumer driven and seems to be running out of steam, and the missional model he, Hirsch, and Forge are advancing.