Revival. It seems like an old-fashioned word that brings up images of camp meetings and Billy Graham Crusades. However, with the steady decline in membership and attendance of mainline denominational churches in the United States, it seems that revival is exactly what the American church needs. In his new small-group study, “Revival,” United Methodist pastor and author, Adam Hamilton, suggests that, in order to revive the modern-day church, we can look to John Wesley, the father of Methodism, for guidance.
During this six-week DVD-based study, Hamilton takes us on a journey through England to the places that were significant in the development of Wesley’s life and ministry. Hamilton begins in the town of Epworth, where Wesley grew up, and explores the ways in which his family and the politics of the day shaped the faith that would so impact our own faith today. From Epworth, we travel to the town of Oxford, where Wesley studied and became a professor, and then began to mentor college students in the areas of faith and social responsibility. It is through this mentoring that the first Methodist Movement was born. We’ll take a side trip to the “New World” were Wesley traveled in an effort to evangelize to the settlers and natives in the Georgia Colony but where he, instead, experienced a personal crisis of faith. Next on our journey, we return to England to the capital, London, where Wesley was meeting for Bible study in a house on Aldersgate Street, when he finally felt he completely trusted in Christ and his heart was “strangely warmed.” Next on our tour is the port city of Bristol where Wesley began preaching out of doors to reach the coal miners and other non-religious and nominally religious people. Finally, we’ll return to London to the City Road Chapel, which is Methodism’s mother church, and to Wesley’s own bedroom where he spoke his final words and left a legacy for us all.
A strong theme throughout this study is how John Wesley’s unique combination of small group accountability, personal holiness, and social engagement (outreach to the poor) was the formula that helped to lead to the 18th century revival of the Christian church. Hamilton suggests that if we reclaim and rediscover the message of scriptural Christianity that Wesley preached, and follow his example of social engagement, we might experience a modern-day revival in our own lives and churches.
As you are planning for your fall and winter classes, please remember that Discovery Place Resource Center has this and many other wonderful studies that are free for you to use. We only ask that you pay for the return shipping.
Explore more at www.discovery-place.org.
Photo at top: Rev. Adam Hamilton with Jody Robinson, Director of Discovery Place.