Principles of Renewal and Revitalization Based Upon the Doctrine, Spirit, and Discipline of the Wesleyan Revival of the Eighteenth Century
The effects of the Methodist branch of the Evangelical Revival continue to reverberate today. As leaders look to renew their faith and revitalize their ministry settings they have looked to John and Charles Wesley for theological understanding and for practices such as the societies, classes, and bands to which they could adapt or adopt. John Wesley spoke of the "essence" that was "joined together in the people called Methodist" in his "Thoughts Upon Methodism." This study will identify nine principles of renewal and revitalization buried in the DNA of this movement that capture the essence of the doctrine, spirit, and discipline of the people called Methodist.
As John Wesley reflected upon the people called Methodist, he identified the key components that he thought were essential for these people to "hold fast to." Chapter One will offer understanding into the historical setting, context, and influences of the Wesley brothers and the early Methodists. This offers a background so that one may understand what John Wesley meant as to the "doctrine, spirit, and discipline" that he and Charles taught and held fast. Chapter Two will examine those three areas that John identified, ascertaining what he, Charles, and the early Methodists understood them to be. Within Chapter Two, there will be two additional sections, beyond the doctrine, spirit, and discipline, that will help one understand the issues that were faced as the people called Methodist emerged beyond the Wesley brothers. Since the Wesleys did not intend to start a new church, it is important to understand what the early codifiers and theologians understood and taught during that transition from society to church — doctrinally speaking. Since John Wesley was afraid these people called Methodist would loosen hold on their doctrine, spirit, and discipline, a brief survey of those areas where the descendants of the early Methodists loosened their grip on those three areas. In Chapter Three, nine principles of renewal and revitalization that were extrapolated from the joined doctrine, spirit, and discipline that the Wesleys and the early Methodists held fast will be presented.
Practices may be time bound. Principles are guides that transcend individual settings and time periods. While the practices the Wesley brothers used may or may not be time bound, the Wesley brothers did discover and apply a mixture of insightful principles that can be used as guides for spiritual renewal and revitalization. May these nine principles help the reader grow in understanding and grace!