Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mission to Australia and New Zealand

In 1842 the prospect of sending Primitive Methodist missionaries to Australia and New Zealand from England, seemed impossible. How could a movement of poor, working class people raise the considerable sum of money needed?

Then, someone had an inspirational thought: ask 70,000 Sunday school children to fund missionaries to Australia, at one penny each for a year.

This idea led to the means of a funding a mission to New Zealand. A missionary meeting at Cramlington in the North Shields Circuit suggested that the Sunday School teachers take responsibility for sending a missionary to New Zealand. The idea was taken up with enthusiasm.

“We approve of the suggestion concerning each Sunday school teacher raising the sum of one shilling, during the ensuing year, to aid in missionary labours in New Zealand.”

In August 1844, Robert Ward and his family landed at New Plymouth. He arrived as “a stranger amongst strangers uninvited and unexpected”. Six weeks later Joseph Long and John Wilson arrived in Adelaide as the first missionaries to Australia.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How the Primitive Methodists got their name


Thursday February 13th 1812


We called a meeting and made plans for the next Quarter and made some other regulations ... In particular we took the name of the Society of the Primitive Methodists.


Copy of entry in Hugh Bourne's journal, printed in Origin and History of the Primitive Methodist Church, Vol I, p133.

The name “Primitive Methodist” seems rather quaint to our modern ears. The word “primitive” usually conveys a negative impression – that of being prehistoric, out-of-date or archaic. That is not what is intended. For more details see What’s in a name? Why “Primitive” Methodism?



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Discipleship 101 - part 7



This is the last in the series on basic discipleship.


Keep a journal and record your thoughts about significant incidents and reflections on the day.


There is great value in keeping a diary or journal of what God is doing day by day. It helps us see the bigger picture of how God is at work. From time to time look back to see if you can see the pattern that develops.

The Primitive Methodist travelling preachers had to keep journals. Some of them were published - such as The Journals of William Clowes. One day you may want to publish your journals too.


An ANZAC Day reflection

This Sunday we remember ANZAC Day. We pause, reflect and remember that on the beaches of Gallipoli thousands of young men lost their lives on that fateful day in 1915. It is estimated that some ten million men were killed in the whole of the first world war in the trenches. It was slaughter on a scale that is difficult to imagine. After the war ended they became known as The Missing Generation. It was much harder for women to marry because of the shortage of eligible men. The social consequences were significant.

Today we have another Missing Generation. It is a missing generation of young men (and women) who are missing from the church and the cause of Christ. Multiple surveys in the UK and Australia show that those who attend mainline churches are getting older. The average age of a church attender in Australia is 53 years (NCLS). For the last fifteen years there has been a significant gap in the age profiles of church attenders compared to the wider community. And as the older generation dies off, they are not being replaced by young adults. In general the Christian message is being ignored by a generation of young adults.





It is a crisis of enormous proportions, and many church leaders are silent or feel helpless to do anything about it.

Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”. There is a generation of young people waiting to be won for Christ and his kingdom. Will you pray for workers to labour in this harvest field who will reach this Missing Generation?

See also NCLS: Why Innovation is Needed in Church Life

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Discipleship 101 - part 6

Here is part 6 of the basics of discipleship:

Learn to share your faith regularly.

Write down your story in 100 words or less, and practice telling your story of what God has done in your life, succinctly and clearly. Learn to be a "conversational preacher" who brings your story into everyday conversation. Your friends cannot argue with your story (assuming it's true of course). Sharing your faith needs words, not just actions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Raising an army (part two)


The Primitive Methodist movement spread rapidly, from ten members in 1810, to half a million people attending their Sunday services, as recorded by the 1851 Census. That is a significant statement of growth in just over forty years.
How did they do it?

In part, the answer is simple – they raised an army. It was an army of lay people who served as local preachers, Sunday school teachers and adult class leaders. The leaders of the movement were experts at talent spotting, recruiting new leaders from their prayer meetings, and other gatherings.

They recruited from within the movement. Some of the most effective preachers were teenage boys. Hugh Bourne’s “lads” were ploughboys, with little or no formal education.

One of the most effective adult preachers was John Benton, who was criticized for not being able to construct a grammatically correct sentence. His command of English may have been lacking, but the power of God accompanied his preaching, and his hearers were brought under conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. Sarah Kirkland became the first full-time female travelling preacher at the age of 21.

When Hugh Bourne died in 1852, he left an army of lay people. There were

9,350 local preachers

6,632 class leaders

and 22,398 Sunday school teachers

If a movement is to expand and grow rapidly, it needs an army.

Discipleship 101 - part 5

Be part of a regular prayer group (weekly or fortnightly)

Prayer gatherings, or in older terminology, prayer meetings, are a vital part of discipleship growth. Look for a prayer group that listens to God, is open to the Spirit of God, and expresses praise and worship. It may have a specific focus, but try and avoid long lists of items to pray for. Let the structure be a tool, not the master. The Primitive Methodist prayer meetings were filled with people who were zealous, passionate, faith-filled believers.

See here and here for more examples.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Discipleship 101 - part 4

This is the fourth post in the Discipleship 101 series - how to grow in our faith.

Be part of a home group or small group that meets regularly (weekly or fortnightly)

We all need the benefits of a group of fellow believers with whom we can share our lives. We are called to love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another. The New Testament is full of "one anothers". Be one of them.

Are you part of a such a group?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Discipleship 101 - part 3

Attend church every week (meet regularly with the people of God).

It is easy to drift or to get discouraged in our daily Christian living. Make it a regular habit to meet with the people of God. In the paraphrased words of President Kennedy, ask not "what my church can do for me?", rather ask "what can I do for my church?"

Friday, April 16, 2010

Basic Discipleship Part 2

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.

Part 2 of this series is
  • Pray daily with your family – your spouse and children

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Discipleship 101

Spend daily time with God alone (in private, usually the same place and time each day)

  1. Aim for one hour.

  2. Make God the first focus of your day.

  3. Read a chapter of the Bible, in context. Don’t just read a devotion focusing on one or two verses.

  4. Pray – prayers of Adoration Confession,Thanksgiving and Supplication (ACTS).

  5. Worship and listen to God.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (9)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here is the final extract from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 9

Now play the man, be strong, never mind being reproached for Christ.

My comment: I take this to mean we should be courageous in the face of opposition or persecution.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (8)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 8

If the Lord call you to any public exercise, to assist in a Sunday School, He will give you wisdom and patience.

My comment: service is a vital part of discipleship growth

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (7)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 7

On the Sabbath attend public worship as often as possible; avoid buying or selling, or talking about worldly business, or doing any work that is unnecessary. Be sure to shave and clean shoes before Sunday, and be as much afraid of sin as of burning fire.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (6)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 6.
As ye have received the Lord Jesus so walk in Him.

My comment: this is a quotation from Colossians 2:6-7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (NIV)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (5)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 5.

If you are not born again pray for God to show you the need of it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (4)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 4.

If you are able, read a chapter or part of a chapter in the Bible every day.

My comment: it is still vitally important to read meaningful "chunks" of the Bible, so that we read in context, and don't just read isolated texts. Context is important.


See also "Are we becoming Biblically illiterate?"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (3)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 3. At night be sure to get the family together on their knees, pray with them, and for them; before going to bed spend some time on your knees, and pour out your soul before God, and remember God is present. Psalm 89.

Psalm 89:1 “I will sing of the LORD'S great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rules for Holy Living (2)

This post continues the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 2.

While at work lift up your heart to God, and if possible get a little time in private once or twice a day to kneel before God.

My comment: God is as interested in our work life just as much as our "spiritual" life.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rules for Holy Living

This is the next in a series of posts continuing the theme of basic discipleship. Here are some short extracts from Hugh Bourne’s “Rules for Holy Living” which are relevant two hundred years later.

Rule 1.

Endeavour to rise early in the morning, for this is most healthful. Spend some time in private prayer; give yourself with all your concerns up to God; and if possible get the family together before going to work, pray with them, and for them, and recommend them to God.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Richard Dawkins shares the message of the Gospel



That God, the all powerful creator of the universe couldn’t think of a better way to forgive humanity’s sins than to have himself put on earth, tortured and executed in atonement for the sins of humanity? What kind of a horrible, depraved notion is that?

Richard Dawkins

Atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins shares the message of Easter with the Australian people via the Q&A program. Dawkins knows the gospel, but rejects it as “horrible and depraved.” I mean what sort of God would suffer and die for the sins of the world?

From the transcript of the program:

RICHARD DAWKINS: The New Testament – you believe, if you believe in the New Testament, that God, the all powerful creator of the universe couldn’t think of a better way to forgive humanity’s sins than to have himself put on earth, tortured and executed in atonement for the sins of humanity? What kind of a horrible, depraved notion is that?

. . . . That’s why Christ came to earth, in order to atone for humanity’s sins. If it’s extreme, it’s not me that’s being extreme, it’s the new testament that’s being extreme.

TONY JONES: No, well, I’m going to jump in here, because is that not a story of sacrifice and therefore has something admirable attached to it which is the opposite of what you suggested?

RICHARD DAWKINS: Do you think it’s admirable? You think it’s admirable that God actually had himself tortured for the sins of humanity?

TONY JONES: That is the Christian view obviously.

RICHARD DAWKINS: That is the Christian view. If you think that’s admirable, you can keep it.

Out of the mouths of babes and atheists . . .

(This is a re-post of the original on Steve Addison's blog)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

7 Laws of Spiritual Success (7)

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

The last of the seven laws is to stay close to God, by cultivating your soul.

“So how do we go about the task of cultivating the soul? … It begins, I believe, by getting alone with God in a daily quiet time in which we talk to Him in prayer, read and meditate on His Word, listen to His voice and give ourselves in obedience to everything he reveals to us.”

“... the soul is renewed in daily contact with God. Neglect this and the result will be emptiness of the soul” (page 170). "For years now, a conviction has been growing in my heart that the Christian life rises and falls at the point of the devotional – those times when one meets privately with the Lord to deepen one’s intimacy with Him." (page 172)

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

Thursday, April 1, 2010

7 Laws of Spiritual Success (6)

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

The sixth law is stay close to God. This is the habit or practice of daily repentance. Repentance is not regret. It is not remorse. It is not reparation.

“… where there is no genuine repentance there can be no ongoing and developing relationship with God” (page 142)



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