It comes from a seminal moment in John Wesley’s personal journal when he recounts a spiritual experience on Aldersgate Street in London in May of 1738:
About a quarter before nine, while [a teacher on the book of Romans] was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
(And now you know, in case you didn’t before, why there are so many Aldersgate United Methodist Churches around. Charlotte’s is on Nations Ford Road; Rock Hill’s is on Celanese Road; and perhaps the most influential church by that name is in College Station, Texas.)
So, ever since that holy night in 1738, when something good happens in the life of United Methodists, we talk about how the event or the person “strangely warms [our] heart.” Well, maybe not all of us do. Actually, it may be just me who does. But anyway.
With that, here they are: the Top Five Things That Strangely Warm My Heart:
1. When we bless someone’s house — Bless This House is our high touch, low threat door knocking ministry with new movers to the area — and they come to church the next Sunday. It doesn’t even have to be the next Sunday for my heart to be warmed . . . in fact, we’ve had as long as an eleven year wait between “blessing” and “visit.”
2. When we have an idea for a new ministry leader, we invite them into that ministry, and they respond with “I’d be honored to serve.” People who are “honored to serve” are priceless, and I love it when we are able to identify them beforehand.
3. When I remember someone’s name and they are shocked that I do. That usually happens before I weird them out by telling them I remember what street they live on. Not healthy.
4. What I “catch” staffers working in an area beyond their own ministry but one that is nevertheless vital to the progress of the church. We say it here often: the most important part about your job is not your job . . . it’s helping the team be as good as it can be.
5. When Sunday attendance is over 100 more than the same Sunday from last year. I don’t get bummed if July attendance is lower than January; that’s normal. However, I want July of this year to be higher (by at least 100, preferably) than July of last. And bless the Lord oh my soul, 2014 has so far been a very good year.