Wednesday, March 31, 2010

7 Laws of Spiritual Success (5)

In his book “7 Laws of Spiritual Success” Selwyn Hughes identifies seven “laws” or universal principles that lead to spiritual growth and maturity.

The fifth law or principle is to give yourself to others. We will grow and matures when we serve others. We are self-centred beings by nature and “me first” just comes naturally.

Selwyn Hughes calls this the law of love, or as James calls it the ‘royal law’. If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘love your neighbour as yourself,’ you are doing right.


"7 Laws of Spiritual Success" is available from Koorong.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

7 Laws of Spiritual Success (4)

In his book “7 Laws of Spiritual Success” Selwyn Hughes identifies seven “laws” or universal principles that lead to spiritual growth and maturity.

The fourth law is to remember to forget. We need to learn the art of forgiveness.

“When people say to me, ‘My problem is I can’t forgive.’ I say, ‘No, that is not your problem. Your problem is you don’t know how much you have been forgiven.’” (page 97)


"7 Laws of Spiritual Success" is available from Koorong.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Methodist church 'prepared to go out of existence'

Is this the end of the line for English Methodism?

Addressing the Church of England’s General Synod, Methodist Conference President David Gamble said: “Methodists approach the Covenant with the Church of England in the spirituality of the Covenant prayer. “So when we say to God ‘let me have all things let me have nothing’, we say it by extension to our partners in the Church of England as well. We are prepared to go out of existence not because we are declining or failing in mission, but for the sake of mission.

Winston Churchill said after the successful evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 that "Wars are not won by evacuations". In other words, defensive measures may be necessary, but, as every chess player knows, attack is the best form of defence. A merger of the Methodist Church with the Anglicans may be necessary, but it is a defensive measure. At face value, it doesn't sound as if it is going to win the war.

Read the Daily Mail report here and the Christianity Today report here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

7 Laws of Spiritual Success (3)

In his book “7 Laws of Spiritual Success” Selwyn Hughes identifies seven “laws” or universal principles that lead to spiritual growth and maturity.

The third law or principle is to persevere. The Christian life is a marathon not a sprint. It is a long haul race to be run.

People give up the faith for four main reasons


  1. They become discouraged by reason of trials and troubles

  2. They are unable to deal with doubts about the faith

  3. They are overcome by persecution from others

  4. They fall into sin and do not know how to rise again

"7 Laws of Spiritual Success" is available from Koorong.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

7 Laws of Spiritual Success (2)


In his book “7 Laws of Spiritual Success” Selwyn Hughes identifies seven “laws” or universal principles that lead to spiritual growth and maturity.

The second law is to count your blessings. We need to maintain an attitude of thankfulness. “As far as humanity is concerned, humanity can be divided into two groups: those who take things for granted and those who take things with gratitude” (page 49)

A attitude of thankfulness is required for healthy growth as a Christian disciple.


"7 Laws of Spiritual Success" is available from Koorong.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

7 Laws of Spiritual Success


In his book “7 Laws of Spiritual Success” Selwyn Hughes identifies seven “laws” or universal principles that lead to spiritual growth and maturity.

The first law is worship. He says “the first responsibility of every Christian is to worship God … when we violate that law we put our souls in peril.” (page 21). As the Westminster Catechism says “the chief end of man is glorify God and enjoy him for ever”. (page 23)


Worship, not service, is our first calling as disciples.


"7 Laws of Spiritual Success" is available from Koorong.

7 Laws of Spiritual Success



In this series of posts we are looking at the basics of discipleship.

In his book “7 Laws of Spiritual Success” Selwyn Hughes identifies seven “laws” or universal principles that lead to spiritual growth and maturity. They are as follows:




  1. Worship – the first responsibility of every Christian is to worship God


  2. Count your blessings – be thankful


  3. Perseverance – keep on keeping on


  4. Remember to forget – the art of forgiveness


  5. Give yourself to others – serve others


  6. Stay close to God – daily repentance


  7. Cultivate your soul - time alone with God.

"7 Laws of Spiritual Success" is available from Koorong.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Discipleship 101

It is my conviction that the biggest challenges facing ordinary Christians today are those of basic discipleship. We are failing Discipleship 101. Discipleship 101 is not hard – at least not in theory, but it is a problem for many in practice.

So what is Discipleship 101?

Discipleship 101 is a cluster of lifetime habits and practices, attitudes and behaviours, daily and weekly disciplines that help us grow as mature, healthy balanced disciples. It is the spiritual equivalent of a balanced diet. The diet consists of simple, basic and straightforward ingredients that we need to take in regularly for spiritual health and vigour.

I will begin with some posts from Selwyn Hughes' book, 7 Laws of Spiritual Success, then refer to Hugh Bourne’s Rules for Holy Living, and add my own contribution later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Primitive Methodists and rapid mobilization

Movements that change the world

Steve Addison identifies rapid mobilization as a common characteristic of movements in his book “Movements that Change the World”.

The Primitive Methodist movement was mobilized by ordinary people in lay leadership, in the form of local preachers and travelling preachers. Local preachers preached in a circuit, whereas travelling preachers ministered across a much wider geographical area.

The travelling preachers were missionaries who “missioned” towns and villages by holding outdoor preaching meetings, or meeting in any available public space such as fields, barns, or empty factories.

In each location they raised up converts and members. The members then gathered to form a local “society” and tickets for membership were issued. In 1852 there were 560 travelling preachers and 9,350 local preachers. By 1888, there were 1041 travelling preachers and 16,219 local preachers.

Two hundred years ago this month …


... in March 1810, the first Primitive Methodist society was formed.

By March 1810, under the ministry of Hugh Bourne, his brother James and their associates, a number of new converts were made in Standley, in North Staffordshire, some four miles from their home in Bemersley. A meeting on Wednesday evening 14 March resulted in the formation of a class of ten members, five men and five women. With Hugh Bourne as superintendent, the new converts at Standley were formed into a class. Joseph Slater was appointed leader.

The plan was for this class to be part of the Burslem circuit of the Wesleyan Methodists, but this was permitted only on the condition that the Bournes and their associates not be allowed to preach there. These conditions were not acceptable, and so this society became independent of the Wesleyans. In so doing they became the first and oldest society of the Primitive Methodist Connexion.

From this class of ten members grew a worldwide movement. A century later it consisted of nearly five thousand churches, sixteen thousand local preachers, over half a million Sunday school scholars and teachers, two hundred and ten thousand members, and six hundred thousand adherents.

The inscription on the back of the centenary plate give the precise details as follows:



Chapels & Preaching Places…. 4,905
Ministers …. 1,153
Local Preachers … 16,209
Church members … 210,173
Adherents … 607,682
Sunday Schools … 4209
Teachers … 61,275
Scholars …. 477,114
Value of property … £4,958,978

Notes: the Centenary spanned 1907 - 1910. 1907 was the centenary of the first Camp Meeting at Mow Cop, and 1910 was the centenary of the first society. The place name referred to as Standley is almost certainly now known as Stanley (near to Endon and Bemersley).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Primitive Methodists and commitment to a cause

Movements that change the world

Steve Addison identifies commitment to a cause as a common characteristic of movements in his book “Movements that Change the World”.

The commitment of the early pioneers of the movement was characterized by active and sustained persecution. This came in two distinctive forms: the mob and the magistrate.

The mob was an unruly and unpredictable group who came to disrupt the evangelistic efforts of the missionary preachers. Sometimes the violence became so extreme, that the preacher was fortunate to escape with their life.

Open-air preachers were often accused and brought before a local magistrate on a spurious charge. As a result the preachers became experts at knowing their rights, and became familiar with the state of the legal system and justice in England. It was not unusual for them to be thrown into prison.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Primitive Methodists and white-hot faith

Movements that change the world

Steve Addison identifies white-hot faith as a common characteristic of movements in his book “Movements that Change the World”.

The Primitive Methodists were men and women of zealous white-hot, faith. The earnest faith of the early founders was summarised thus: “They were men who lived for souls, and could not live unless souls were saved - often they could not sleep upon their beds, if the converting work was not progressing - they fasted, prayed, wept, groaned, struggled, walked, talked, preached, wrote, laboured, believed for the salvation of sinners.”

Quoted in History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, H B Kendall, p13

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movements that Change the World



"Christianity is a movement of movements", says Steve Addison in his recent book “Movements that Change the World”. Primitive Methodism is an example of one of these movements.

Throughout the ages various moves of God exhibit common characteristics. He identifies these as

1. White-hot faith

2. Commitment to a cause

3. Contagious relationships

4. Rapid mobilization and

5. Adaptive methods

The Primitive Methodist movement fits these five characteristics surprisingly well.

They were men and women of radical, white-hot faith. They were known for their dynamic prayer meetings, zealous preaching and ambitious faith.

They were committed to a cause. Their preachers endured toil and suffering, violence from gangs, hostility by the legal authorities and the religious establishment.

Relationships were nurtured through the weekly class meetings, and house-to-house visiting. Whole families were often transformed by the gospel. As workers saw their fellow workmen experience radical conversion, and villagers saw the most notorious characters in their community change, the network of relationships grew.

Primitive Methodism mobilized rapidly. Lay leadership was a key factor in the expansion of the movement. By using local lay preachers and travelling preachers, this missionary movement touched the whole England. Just forty years after the founding of the movement in 1810, there were half a million people in attendance in their chapels according to the 1851 religious census.

They used adaptive methods. They used open-air preaching and Camp Meetings to great effect. The recognised the value of female preachers. They used missionary language and missionary methods. They had a significant book and magazine publishing organisation. They succeeded in reaching the working classes, a strata of society largely ignored by the established church.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The fourteen Ms of the Primitive Methodist movement

Here is a thumbnail sketch of the history of the movement

1. Milieu - England in the early 1800s
2. Men with a message - Bourne and Clowes
3. Mow Cop Camp Meeting (1807)
4. Movement formed (1811 – 1812)
5. Mission to the midlands (1811 – 1819)
6. Mob and magistrate
7. Multiplication in Hull and beyond (1819 – 1824)
8. Meltdown (1825 – 1828)- crisis in the movement
9. More expansion (1829 – 1833)
10. Mission - local and overseas (1834-1851)- to Canada, Australia, New Zealand
11. Memorial to the founders - death of Clowes and Bourne (1851 – 1852)
12. Maturity (1860 – 1910) - Jubilee to Centenary celebrations
13. Merger (1932) - union to form The Methodist Church
14. Museum - Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Every man ready for glory

Many Primitive Methodists were mineworkers who bore witness to their faith in the dark and dangerous circumstances of work down the pit. The Seaham Colliery disaster of 8 September 1880 provides a dramatic example.

"164 men and boys perished, many of whom were trapped down the pit and suffered a slow death. When the rescuers finally broke through the blocked shaft they found a poignant message chalked on a wooden plank. It reads as follows: ‘The Lord is with us. We are all ready for heaven. Bless the Lord. We have had a jolly prayer meeting, every man ready for glory. Praise the Lord. Signed Ric. Cole’."

"Richard Cole was a Primitive Methodist local preacher who would often have ministered to his colleagues from the pulpit. Here at the tragic conclusion of his life, and in unimaginable and deeply moving circumstances, he ministered to them for the last time, as a dying man to dying men."

From 'Primitive Methodism', Geoffrey Milburn, page 57, quoting ‘Wesley Historical Society North East Bulletin, 34, page17’

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Asking the hard questions (9)

The Primitive Methodist movement has come and gone, but what would it look like if God raised up such a movement today?

Here is my final answer number in this series of posts. There are, of course, many other characteristics that could, be examined in detail, such as the use of “active” membership or a renewed emphasis on communion, but I pause at this point.

It would be a movement known for dynamic worship expressed in song and shout


  1. The movement will have its own songs, hymns and distinctive worship style. Much of the music will reflect the music of the culture, transforming popular music styles into songs which carry theological truth.

  2. The practice of a shout is another form of praise and worship. People will declare God’s praises with a loud shout, affirming his greatness, his love and his power. (I mention this to provide a challenge. We often have a shout at the end of our weekly Saturday morning prayer meeting, so we’re having a go. Try it, some time, it’s great fun).

Every convert: one criminal, one drunkard, one improvident, less

Horace Mann, a prominent barrister who was involved with the Religious Census of 1851, made the following comments on the effectiveness of the Primitive Methodists amongst the working classes:

“The community whose operations penetrate deeply through the lower sections of the people is the body called the Primitive Methodists, whose trespasses against what may thought a proper order will most likely be forgiven when it is remembered that perhaps their rough, informal energy is best adapted to the class to which it is addressed, and that, at all events, for every convert added to their ranks, society retains one criminal, one drunkard, one improvident, less.”

Quoted in Primitive Methodism, by Geoffrey Milburn, page 26

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Asking the hard questions (8)

The Primitive Methodist movement has come and gone, but what would it look like if God raised up such a movement today?

Here is answer number eight to that question.

It will be a converting movement

It will be characterised by lives radically transformed by the powerful effects of the gospel.


  1. The topic of conversation in the workplace will be of the great difference in the lives of new Christian believers.


  2. Converts will be known for their radical discipleship, changed lives, and upright living.


  3. Communities will be affected by the Gospel. There will be significant changes brought about in the wider community by those whose lives have been changed.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Asking the hard questions (7)

The Primitive Methodist movement has come and gone, but what would it look like if God raised up such a movement today?

Here is the answer number seven to that question.

It will be a movement that expands rapidly

Expansion will be both geographic and numeric. It will spread from town to town, city to city. In each location small groups of believers will be raised up who will later form a visible presence in the locality. Rapid expansion is facilitated by lay leaders who have been trained using the apprenticeship model.


    1. A church will be established in each place.

    2. A network of churches will be established which have strong interconnection between them.

    3. The church members will have a strong sense of identity with the movement.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Asking the hard questions (6)

The Primitive Methodist movement has come and gone, but what would it look like if God raised up such a movement today?

Here is the answer number six to that question.

It will be movement that uses lay leaders effectively

They will be good at “talent spotting”. They will use the pool of committed, zealous prayer “warriors” as a recruiting ground for potential preachers. Lay preachers will be ordinary people, many of whom have not been formally trained, but who have a strong identification with those whom they seek to reach.


  1. Much of the training of lay leaders will use apprenticeship training, (that is, on the job training).

  2. Formal theological training will be subservient to apprenticeship training. Some of the best preachers may not be formally trained, using conventional methods.

  3. Leaders for the movement will be recruited from within. Some of the key leaders will be converts within the movement.

Primitive Methodists at Prayer



William Holt Yates Titcomb (1858-1930)

Primitive Methodists at Prayer, an oil on canvas, was on display in 1889 at the Dudley Museum & Art Gallery. This painting won more international medals than any other St. Ives work and is the first of three paintings that Titcomb completed of the Primitive Methodist congregation of the Fore Street Chapel in St. Ives. Although the son of an Anglican bishop, Titcomb was fascinated with the passion with which the St. Ives fishermen practised their faith - a faith which they called the "brightest and best" part of life. The simplicity of the chapel, the sparseness of the congregation and the humbleness of their attire only serve to highlight the intensity of belief.

The painting shows the interior of the Primitive Methodist chapel on Fore Street, St Ives, where Titcomb lived for part of each year. The occasion depicted appears to be a prayer meeting following a summer evening preaching service. The preacher stands in the high pulpit, and below him is a remnant of the original congregation, including in the foreground some chattering boys and two elderly fishermen dressed in their simple workaday garb, and shown in attitudes of prayer on the plain wooden benches. The picture’s simplicity, naturalness and integrity assured its wide appeal, and the Primitive Methodist Church readily acclaimed it as ‘a nation’s picture’.

Sources

1. http://www.wickersleyweb.co.uk/hist/titcomb.htm

2. http://scotwise.blogspot.com/2005/05/primitive-methodists-by-w-h-y-titcomb.html

3. Primitive Methodism, Geoffrey Milburn, p79