You are invited and encouraged to join in small group discussions.
Groups meeting Sunday mornings:
10:30am, facilitated by Tom & Connie Cook
11:00am, facilitated by Neil & Anne Hunt
Groups meeting Sunday night:
5:00pm, facilitated by Troy & Chrissy Guthrie (off-site)
6:30pm, facilitated by Cheryl Platt
Groups meeting during weekdays/nights
Tuesday, 1:00pm, facilitated by Donna Blackowiak
Wednesday, 6:15pm, facilitated by Rev. Jen Gibbs
Wednesday, 6:15pm, facilitated by Nancy Bellinger
(unless otherwise noted, groups meet at the church)
Reading Schedule for Revival
Week of August 6-12: Chapter 1 (to be discussed Aug. 13)
Week of August 13-19: Chapter 2 (to be discussed Aug. 20)
Week of August 20-26: Chapter 3 (to be discussed Aug. 27)
Week of August 27-September 2: Chapter 4 (to be discussed Sept. 3)
Week of September 3-9: Chapter 5 (to be discussed Sept. 10)
Week of September 10-16: Chapter 6 (to be discussed Sept. 17)
Reading Summaries & Reflection Questions
“REVIVAL means to reinvigorate, to restore to life, to become strong and healthy after a period of decline, to renew or revitalize.” - from Intro
We come to this study to consider our faith LEGACY. We come from the Wesleyan tradition known as Methodism. It spread like wildfire in the time of John Wesley. What does our 18th century legacy have to teach us that we may revive our faith as individuals and as the Methodist Church?
Jesus told his followers that they will find opposition to their ministry. When you challenge the status quo, you ruffle feathers. When John and Charles Wesley preached from the fields and challenged the malaise of the Anglican Church; when they called their hearers to a deeper faith and the living of a holier life, they faced opposition. The zeal and convicting words of their preaching unnerved priests and laity. He said that many who called themselves Christians were so in name only. Wesley said there is so much more to being a Christian than simple acceptance/belief. There is power, love and joy that comes from walking with God. God expects more of Christians than simply trying to not be so bad as other people. Many Christians in his day, he believed, did little or nothing to grow in love.
Because of opposition to him, many churches were closed to him; he took to preaching in the fields and marketplaces. The priests and laity who opposed him, hired thugs and rabble-rousers to disturb him. They threw stones, manure or tomatoes at him and pushed him down. He was dragged before magistrates and beaten with fists. Homes where he stayed were set on fire. This went on for more than 19 years. They felt he was preaching without authorization. Wesley got right back up and continued preaching, which silenced the crowd. He refused to give up.
He described that as he preached the power of the Spirit, those who came to devour him like lions were touched by God and left like lambs.
Leaders often face opposition as they try to live God’s will. Today’s leaders face the same. Consider Moses, Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. What if Martin Luther King Jr. had allowed opposition to cause him to quit; where would Civil Rights be today? Wesley’s perseverance made possible the revival led by Methodists around the world. Millions had their souls awakened through the Methodist revival. After nearly 20 years, opposition died down. By his sixties, Wesley had become a bit of a celebrity and was invited to preach in nearly every pulpit throughout England. In his seventies and eighties he was a national hero, having been used by God to touch countless lives.
Charles, who was four years younger than his brother John, was a partner in ministry. Charles also wrote seemingly 4,400 hymns or more which taught and reinforeced the key theological and spiritual convictions of the Methodist movement. He and a handful of others began introducing hymns to the greater church which put into everyday words and phrases the themes of faith and the experiences believers had of God’s grace.
Singing to God is an expression of devotion to God. Our songs become acts of worship only when we engage our minds and hearts. If we don’t, we become like those whom Jesus, and before him Isaiah, warned about: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me,” (Matthew 15:8). John Wesley sought to give clear directions on how to sing the hymns he and Charles had compiled into hymn books. The instructions remain in the front of the United Methodist hymnal today.
As Wesley grew older it would have been easy to play it safe. He was enjoyed by millions and an elder statesman in the faith. Why rock the boat? But because of his stature, he understood that he must speak for the rights of all the destitute who often do not have a voice in society. He began to speak out against the slave trade. He wrote and distributed a book which spoke in strong opposition to slavery. He preached a sermon in a church against slavery which provoked a fight between those who opposed and those who supported slavery. They literally broke the pews in the fight.
At first, many Methodist were poor. As time went on, many Methodist were wealthier. Wesley feared that prosperity might lead some to fall away from the faith. “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by man’s senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction,” (1 Timothy 6:9). He instructed, “Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Wesley lived these rules. As he earned more, he gave away increasing percentages. He was modeling and teaching that holiness and a desire to serve God can be judged in part by looking at your finances. “What does your bank statement say about your spiritual life?” Practicing generosity is not just a fruit of revival; it is also a means to revival.
Wesley talked about holy dying. How do we bear witness to our faith as we die, Wesley prayed and sang to God until his final breath at age 87. More than 10,000 people filed past his casket. Then he was laid to rest behind the City Road Chapel.
Over the next 200 years, Wesley’s descendants in the faith would start more than 40,000 Methodist churches in America alone. The faith which Wesley lived engaged head, heart and hands. It held together the Evangelical Gospel, which calls us to believe and trust in God, and the Social Gospel, calling us to be God’s instruments for healing in a broken world. It was a reasonable faith inviting us to engage passion and theological reason/thinking. It combined a belief in the mercy of God, while calling us to live God’s ways/laws in holiness. John Wesley asked us not to settle for being almost Christian, but to become altogether Christian!
1. Read Colossians 1:9-13, and Matthew 5:10-12
a. From the scriptures, what do you learn about the spiritual call and value of persevering?
b. John Wesley was beaten for preaching for revival, often by “Christians.”
This abuse went on for nearly twenty years and he persevered.
Why do you believe he persevered?
c. Where have you seen persecution of leaders living the call of God, and those leaders persevered? Consider biblical figures as well as historical and contemporary figures.
What was the impact of their perseverance?
What would have happened if they gave up?
d. Throughout history, we have seen many leaders proclaim to take a stand for the sake of faith; these leaders may even believe the opposition is proof of their beliefs/choices of faith. But ultimately what they stood for wasn’t Godly or Biblical.
Can you name some leaders who stood in the name of faith, but what they stood for wasn’t Godly or truthful?
How do we discern that our stand is in line with the Word and ways of Jesus and not just our own distortion?
2. Read Matthew 15:3-9
a. Wesley was preaching revival for the Anglican Church he felt at the time illustrated this scripture. He preached conviction of faith and holier living in a very convicting way. He preached for people to move from being “almost Christian” to becoming “altogether Christian.”
Would you say that the church today does or can reflect this scripture as well? In what ways?
How do we personally sometimes illustrate this scripture?
b. John was beaten and threatened by those who called themselves Christian. What in John’s message was so threatening to them?
What does the violence of those “Christians” tell you about their faith?
Consider your own responses in daily life as of late; what do your responses illustrate about your faith?
3. Read 1 Timothy 6:9
a. The scripture talks about those in society who are trapped by humans’ harmful desires. This scripture points to systemic oppression as well as situational moments where desires of one degradates the humanity or rights of another.
Who or what groups of people in society today are trapped by the harmful desires of another/other groups?
b. Wesley could have easily coasted in the latter quarter of his life, but instead caused quite a ruckus as he stood up against slavery as part of being faithful. Statistics show us modern day slavery is statistically higher than back then.
Who is being enslaved? What would it look like to research and learn more about modern day slavery?
c. As part of being faithful, what would it look like to stand up for those who are oppressed and voiceless?
How do you do this or how might you begin?
What often keeps us from making this an intentional part of our faith journey?