Friday, December 23, 2011

A child is born




For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will
be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9 verse 6

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Story



'The Christmas Story' (2010), as told by the children of St Paul's Church, Auckland, New Zealand

View here

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy, if with my latest breath …

Daniel Draper was known as the ‘second founder’ of Wesleyan Methodism in South Australia. During his nine years of leadership in Adelaide from 1846 to 1855 membership increased ten fold. After this, he became superintendent of the Wesley church in Melbourne.

In 1865 he returned to England as a representative at the British Conference. He made arrangements to return to Australia, booking a passage on the steamship London, bound for Melbourne.

The badly overloaded ship foundered in the Bay of Biscay on 11 January 1866, and sank during a storm. There were only 19 survivors out of a total of some 239 passengers on board.

The survivors told the story of how Draper prayed on deck, urging the doomed passengers to make ‘the port of heaven’. He sang the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ as the ship went down. He brought hope where there was no hope.

When news reached Australia of his death, friends recalled the fervour with which he had often sung the lines of Charles Wesley:

Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His name;
Preach Him to all, and cry in death;
Behold, behold the Lamb!

It was Draper’s lot to be given the opportunity to make those words a tragic reality amid the heaving waters off the coast of France.

Related posts

What a way to go!

Everyman ready for glory!

Rescued

Memorial to a church planter

Abridged from This side of heaven, Arnold D. Hunt, page 38-39 and other sources

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What a way to go!

George Cole was born in Chichester, in Sussex in 1792. He became a devout “Bible Christian” Methodist believer whilst living in England. Later he emigrated to South Australia in 1839 and on his arrival in Adelaide became a Wesleyan Methodist.

He died on November 21st 1853 whilst leading a public worship service in Adelaide. He was reading the passage in John chapter 1, where John the Baptist denies being the messiah, and read the words
He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.’” (John 1:20)

George Cole got to the last word in verse 20, and then collapsed and died. Thus he went to heaven with the name of “Christ” literally on his lips. He was 61 years old.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee. (from the hymn Rock of Ages)

What a way to go!

Related posts

Everyman ready for glory!

Rescued

Memorial to a church planter

From This side of heaven, Arnold D. Hunt, page 44

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remembering



This Friday will be 11.11.11 (11 November, 2011). At eleven seconds after eleven minutes past eleven it will be 11.11.11am on 11.11.11. Now I'm not a big fan of the significance of numbers, but the 11th of November each year is known as Remembrance Day because at 11:00am we pause for two minutes silence to remember those who died in war.

Remembrance Day was instituted to remember the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918, the event that formally ended the First World War.

World War I was a terrible war, ironically called ‘the war to end all wars’. Many thousands of young men lost their lives in seemingly pointless battles in the trenches of northern France.

Tens of thousands were killed in places such as Ypres, The Somme, Passchendaele and Fromelles . In the battle of The Somme, some 58,000 British troops were killed on the first day alone. It was carnage on a massive scale.

It is estimated that some ten million men were killed in the war. So many men of marriagable age were wiped out that after the war 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. Congregations are getting older, and are literally dying off, with many fewer young adults to replace them. Surveys in the UK and Australia show the same trend.

We have a rising generation of young people who may never have been to church (except for a wedding or a funeral), who have not read anything much of the Bible, and who have never clearly heard or experienced the life changing gospel of Christ. Their image of Christianity, and church in particular, is often one of being irrelevant, and out of touch with the real world.

This Missing Generation are a harvest field to be reached for the gospel of Christ. Let us not forget them.

So this November 11th will you pause to pray for the Missing Generation, for those that need to hear the gospel? Will you remember them?

Related posts

1. Always hope

2. Why Innovation is needed in church life

3. ANZAC Day Reflection

4. Asking the hard questions

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Broken

We live in a broken world.


After the recent London riots, Prime Minister David Cameron spoke candidly and courageously of “Broken Britain” and "slow-motion moral collapse". This was an honest assessment of the state of some parts of British society and community. One of the key factors he identified is that of troubled families.

But it’s not just Britain that is broken. All across the western world, and especially here in Melbourne, we have evidence all around of a broken, dysfunctional society. Many young people lack a clear sense of identity, leading to depression, hopelessness and even suicide.

Binge drinking and alcohol fuelled violence is common place. Clubs and pubs are fighting the move to limit the amounts gamblers can use on poker machines, in a tacit admission that problem gambling is responsible for much of their revenue.

Way back in the 1850s the people in the lower ranks of English society were the poor. Their lives were characterised by drunkenness, fighting, gambling, cruelty to animals, reckless living, immorality and criminal behaviour. They were often illiterate, hungry, desperate and hopeless.

In short, they were part of a broken Britain.

But one group enabled the pieces to be put back together. The Primitive Methodists brought a message of hope and transformation. The change was so significant that the 1851 census noted their success.


“that … for every convert added to their ranks, society retains one criminal, one drunkard, one improvident, less.” (An improvident is one who is careless, reckless or negligent)

Will you pray with me that God will raise up a group of people who are as passionate and as effective as the Primitive Methodists?


Related links

David Cameron's solution for broken Britain: tough love and tougher policing

Cameron Calls The British Riots A "Wake Up Call"

Changing the world, one life at a time

Census reflections

Secrets of success

Friday, September 30, 2011

Summary of posts for August / September

Here is a summary from my blog of the posts for August and September.

As you will see the main theme is publishing chapters from my forthcoming book "Turning the World Upside Down - lessons from the Primitive Methodist movement".

I am also in the process of getting details of a theatre production about Primitive Methodism called "The Burning Mountain" performed by the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent some years ago. The theatre archivist has been very helpful and the good news is that there’s a vast amount of reference material. The challenge will be to select the best from the good.




    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Four obstacles to transformation (4)

    The Barna Group surveys religious belief and opinions in an American context. George Barna has identified four significant obstacles to spiritual transformation for self-identified Christians in the United States.
    The obstacles to transformation are

    1. Commitment

    2. Repentance

    3. Activity

    4. Spiritual Community

    Obstacle 4: Spiritual Community

    • Most feel comfortable and connected within their church

    • However, there is not much vulnerability and accountability occurring within the context of those connections.

    • Many do not take their faith community seriously, as a place to which they should be open and held to biblical principles.

    • Only one out of every five believes that spiritual maturity requires a vital connection to a community of faith.

    • Only one-third claim to have confessed their sins verbally to another believer at some point during the past quarter


    Related links

    1. Self-Described Christians Dominate America but Wrestle with Four Aspects of Spiritual Depth

    2. Obstacles to spiritual transformation - commitment

    3. Obstacles to spiritual transformation - repentance

    4. Obstacles to spiritual transformation - activity

    5. A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life

    6. Six trends emerging for 2011

    7. Are we becoming Biblically illiterate?

    8. How do we keep our spiritual fervour?

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Four obstacles to transformation (3)

    The Barna Group surveys religious belief and opinions in an American context. George Barna has identified four significant obstacles to spiritual transformation for self-identified Christians in the United States.

    The obstacles to transformation are

    1. Commitment

    2. Repentance

    3. Activity

    4. Spiritual Community

    Obstacle 3: Activity



    • Tens of millions have confused religious activity with spiritual significance and depth


    • Four out of ten have participated in a combination of three “normal” religious activities in the past week (i.e., attending church services, praying, reading the Bible).


    • Far fewer have engaged in deeper faith expressions:




      • less than one out of ten have talked about their faith with a non-Christian


      • fasted for religious purposes


      • had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week


      • spiritual disciplines – including solitude, sacrifice, acts of service, silence, and scriptural meditation – are infrequently practiced


    Next obstacle: Community

    Related links

    1. Self-Described Christians Dominate America but Wrestle with Four Aspects of Spiritual Depth

    2. Obstacles to spiritual transformation - commitment

    3. Obstacles to spiritual transformation - repentance

    4. A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life

    5. Six trends emerging for 2011

    6. Are we becoming Biblically illiterate?

    7. How do we keep our spiritual fervour?

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Four obstacles to transformation (2)

    The Barna Group surveys religious belief and opinions in an American context. George Barna has identified four significant obstacles to spiritual transformation for self-identified Christians in the United States.

    The obstacles to transformation are




    • Commitment

    • Repentance

    • Activity

    • Spiritual Community

    Obstacle 2: Repentance


    • Most (64%) state that they have confessed their sins to God and asked for His forgiveness

    • Evidence is quite clear that relatively few are serious about abandoning the lure of sin and handing total control of their life to God

    • Research found that only one out of every eight (12%) admitted that recognizing and grasping the significance of their sins had been so personally devastating that it caused them to crash emotionally

    • Only about 3% have come to the final stops on the transformational journey – devoting themselves to loving and serving God and other people


    Next obstacle: Activity

    Related links

    1. Self-Described Christians Dominate America but Wrestle with Four Aspects of Spiritual Depth

    2. Obstacles to spiritual transformation - commitment

    3. A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life

    4. Six trends emerging for 2011

    5. Are we becoming Biblically illiterate?

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Four obstacles to transformation

    The Barna Group surveys religious belief and opinions in an American context. George Barna has identified four significant obstacles to spiritual transformation for self-identified Christians in the United States. The obstacles to transformation are


    • Commitment

    • Repentance

    • Activity

    • Spiritual Community

    Obstacle 1: Commitment


    • Most say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today

    • More than three out of four strongly agreed that spirituality is very important to them

    • Less than one out of every five claims to be totally committed to investing in their own spiritual development

    • About one in five claims to be “completely dependent upon God.”

    • A majority (52%) believe that there is much more to the Christian life than what they have experienced

    Related links

    1. Self-Described Christians Dominate America but Wrestle with Four Aspects of Spiritual Depth

    2. A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life

    3. Six trends emerging for 2011

    4. Are we becoming Biblically illiterate?

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Preview "Turning the world upside down"




    Click the image for a sneak peak of the introduction and chapter one of my book "Turning the world upside down - lessons from the Primitive Methodist movement"

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Summary of posts

    Here is a summary from my blog of the posts for July.

    I am continuing to work on my book "Turning the World Upside Down - lessons from the Primitive Methodist movement", and I'm in the "getting ready for publication stage", needing a graphic designer to help with the jacket cover. Printing in hardback in the UK is an attractive option, but I need to resolve the distribution costs for sale in Australia.

    Well done Cadel! - Reflections from the Tour De France

    Man finds hidden treasure - Why I am passionate about Primitive Methodism

    Men versus women - Celebrating God-given differences

    How to view my blog on your iPhone - using the Pulse app

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Well done Cadel!

    Australian Cadel Evans won the yellow jersey in the Tour de France this year. Even the most casual observer of the Tour de France will know that there are a number of colored jerseys given on the race. They are:


    1. The Green Jersey – given to the best sprinter - won by Mark Cavendish (Britain)



    2. The Polka Dot Jersey – awarded to the best mountain climber - won by Samuel Sanchez (Spain)



    3. The White Jersey – the best young rider - awarded to Pierre Rolland (France)



    4. and most famously, the Yellow Jersey – given to the overall leader - Cadel Evans who becomes Australia's first winner



    There is another race – it’s the race heading for heaven. The apostle Paul describes it like this:

    Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
    You can almost imagine the apostle straining forward on his bike, (yes, I know he did not have a bike back then), climbing the mountain pass, and eager to win the yellow jersey. Can you see him striving to win the prize?

    When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, when our sins are forgiven and we follow Jesus then we are in the race for heaven and we will receive the prize, the winners’ jersey awarded to all those who trust in him, and truly believe in him.

    With eternal life there is a winners’ jersey for every competitor who finishes the race. Unlike the Tour de France it is not an exclusive competition.


    Are you heading for heaven?


    Related posts



    1. Heaven


    2. What is heaven like?


    3. On getting to heaven


    4. Eternity


    5. Every man ready for glory

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Man finds hidden treasure

    In 2009, Terry Herbert, an amateur metal detector discovered a large cache of Anglo-Saxon treasure, buried in a farmer’s field in Staffordshire, England. It was a stunning discovery, which proved to be the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, containing 5kg of gold and 2.5 kg of silver. It had lain hidden for many hundreds of years. The excitement of making such a find must have been hard to contain and soon became headline news around the world:

    Largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire


    First pieces of gold were found in a farm field by an amateur metal detector who lives alone on disability benefit (Guardian, 24 Sept 2009)

    Huge Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found


    BBC News, 24 Sept 2009

    Here are some links to some of the items found.

    Gallery1
    Gallery2
    Gallery3
    Gallery4
    Gallery5

    I feel like Terry Herbert and his discovery of long hidden treasure in Staffordshire. Significantly my find was also made in Staffordshire. For me, discovering the story of the Primitive Methodist movement has been like finding a hoard of hidden treasure. It continues to inspire me. In the space of a few short decades this dynamic movement transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of working class men, women and children. How God did that and the lessons we can learn from this movement are the subject of this blog.

    That's why I am writing about Primitive Methodism

    Related links



    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Men versus women

    As the public debate to redefine marriage gathers momentum, it is important to understand the differences between men and women, and why marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Here are some brilliant video clips on some of those differences:

    "Wedding cake" from Man Stroke Woman

    Click here to view





    Man Stroke Woman - Man Cold

    Click here to view





    Mark Gungor - Men's Brain Women's Brain

    Click here to view



    Monday, July 4, 2011

    How to view my blog on your iPhone

    in four simple steps





    1. Install the Pulse News for iPhone app


    it's free!




    2. Search for "Primitive Methodist Blog"





    3. Press the "+" button"




    Add "daves-little-blog"





    4. Scroll down until you find this blog feed




    It's that simple!



    Further links


    1. The Primitive Methodist Movement Blog

    2. Centenary plate

    3. Primitive Methodist movement

    4. Why Primitive?

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Summary of posts

    Here is a summary from my blog of the posts for May and June. In June we developed a prototype "Shout-O-Meter" to measure the decibels during a Primitive Methodist shout during a prayer meeting.

    I am continuing to work on my book "Turning the World Upside Down - lessons from the Primitive Methodist movement". I'm getting initial estimates from printers.

    Shout-O-Meter The first prototype to measure spiritual effectiveness (just for fun)!

    How does your garden grow? A brief overview of two methods of growth - budding and offshoots

    Multiplication by budding - as used in the "Branch" system

    Method 2: Multiplication by offshoots (seedlings) - as used in Circuit Missions

    Multiplication by seeds

    It is more blessed to give than to receive - quotations from rich philanthropists

    Jubilee Church celebrations - reflections on Chewton Jubilee Church 150 year anniversary

    On this day ... two hundred years ago the first membership tickets were issued

    On this day … two hundred years ago in May 1811, Hugh Bourne’s Camp Meeting Methodists and William Clowes’ group (the Clowesites) join forces

    What’s in a name? There may be two names for a movement. One they choose and another chosen by outsiders

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Multiplication by seeds



    The second method of geographical extension is that of multiplication by seeds (or offshoots). The analogy here is that of a seed being blown by the wind to a distant location and takes root. The wind blown seed takes root because the destination environment is favourable. Sometimes a seed will land in an unexpected place.

    This method was used by the Primitive Methodist Circuits to start missions in distant locations. The Hull circuit in the north east of England started missions in Kent, Bedford, Hertfordshire, Cornwall, and two missions to London. Overseas mission began in 1829 just two decades after the first official class started in 1810 with ten members.


    Table: Circuit missions (seed multiplication)

    Related posts

    1. Multiplication by budding
    2. Multiplication by offshoots (seedlings)
    3. History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, Kendal, page 22

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Method 2: Multiplication by offshoots (seedlings)



    The second method of geographical extension is that of multiplication by offshoots. The analogy here is that of a seed being blown by the wind to a distant location and takes root. The wind blown seed takes root because the destination environment is favourable. Sometimes a seed will land in an unexpected place.

    This method was used by the Primitive Methodist Circuits to start missions in distant locations. So for example, the Hull circuit in the north east of England started a mission in Cornwall in the far south west of England.


    “In 1825 [William] Clowes entered Cornwall as the first Primitive Methodist Missionary, in response to a request from Mr. Turner, who …had been working on Primitive Methodist lines though unattached to any religious community. Beginning under such favourable circumstances, the Cornish mission made progress and soon extended itself into Devonshire.”



    Related posts



    1. Multiplication by budding

    2. History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, Kendal, page 22

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Multiplication by budding



    The "Branch" system was a form of multiplication by budding. The Primitive Methodist historian H. B. Kendall notes that



    The Home Branch, as it was called, exercised rights of jurisdiction and government over the most distant branch, while for local purposes that branch had all the rights of initiative and independence …

    This system ensured the certainty of competent advisers being available for every emergency - of financial help when required - and of the constant supply and frequent interchange of suitable preachers. Then when the branch had proved itself
    capable of self-government, it was let go with a blessing.

    Thus William Clowes records that in March, 1826, “it was ascertained that from the fruitful mother, Hull, twenty-one circuits had been made, with 8,455 members; and that with the venerable parent there remained 3,541; consequently, from January 12, 1819, the day when I began the Hull mission, a period of seven years and two months, the Hull circuit alone had raised up in the Primitive Methodist Connexion 11,996 souls! Hosannah! Hosannah!”


    Next post: Multiplication by offshoots

    Related links



    1. http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/wong/bot135/lect03_b.htm


    2. Multiplication by budding


    3. History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, Kendal, page 21

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    How does your garden grow?

    As a movement grows, patterns begin to emerge. For the Primitive Methodist movement two patterns of multiplication were identified from the natural world. These patterns characterised geographical extension of the early years.

    The first was called multiplication by budding based on the biology of yeast cell propagation.

    The second was multiplication by seedlings, based on the idea of a seed being caught by the wind and blown to a distant location.


    Method 1: Multiplication by budding



    A yeast cell multiplies by a process known as budding as shown in the diagram above.

    A yeast cell that is about to bud has a predetermined area of the cell that becomes blown out forming a new cell, the so-called bud. (a)
    The nucleus will divide with one nucleus migrating into the new cell. (b)

    When the new cell is approximately the size of the original cell, the cells will seal off the opening and separate, giving rise to two yeast cells. (c)

    The emphasis on this form of multiplication is that of geographical proximity and control whilst the new cell forms. The parent cell provides supervisory control over the child cell until it gets to a level of maturity.

    Next post: The Branch System - Multiplication by budding

    Related links



    1. http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/wong/bot135/lect03_b.htm


    2. Multiplication by offshoots

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    It is more blessed to give than to receive

    Here are some quotations on the practical benefit of giving (philanthropy) from the Business Day section of The Saturday Age June 4 2011.


    I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. (Warren Buffett)


    Making a difference in people’s lives – and seeing it with your own eyes – is perhaps the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do. If you want to enjoy life – give. (Michael Bloomberg)


    We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful. But just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well. (Melinda and Bill Gates)


    I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living – to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition. (Chuck Feeney)

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Jubilee Church celebrations



    Jubilee Church celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. Located in Chewton, near to Castlemaine in the state of Victoria, Australia, it was opened on June 2 1861 at a cost of £535. For the first forty years it was the Jubilee Primitive Methodist Church. It was founded ten years after the Victorian gold rush, in a context very different from today.

    In one hundred and fifty years since 1861 much has changed.

    In the 1840s, emigration from England to the colonies was increasing year by year. But what started as a trickle soon became a flood with the Victorian gold rush of 1851. The discovery of gold brought significant wealth to cities like Melbourne, regional centres like Bendigo and towns like Castlemaine. The emigrants also included Primitive Methodists who wanted to bring their spiritual heritage to their new home. They came to Melbourne in 1851 and spread to regional Victoria in the decade that followed, including communities like Chewton.

    Known as Ranters, the Primitive Methodists were men and women with a message. They were bold, powerful and effective. They preached boldly, speaking with authority and clearly proclaiming the gospel in public spaces.

    They preached powerfully with great emotion and pathos, communicating to the heart and not just the mind. They preached effectively and the lives of many of their hearers were changed radically and often dramatically as the message of Christ took hold and became fruitful. Changed hearts led to changed lives.

    Their message was a simple gospel call, “you must be born again”. These words, echoing the famous words of Jesus in his encounter with Nicodemus in John 3:3 became a catch-cry for the movement. Conversion is a radical U-turn in which people are born again of the Spirit of God, preceded by turning away from sin - repentance.

    They also proclaimed a free, full and present salvation.

    They preached a free salvation, in other words that we can be saved through faith as a free gift. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    They preached a present salvation – that we can be saved now, and that the time to be saved is now. “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

    They preached a full salvation. This was also called entire sanctification or holiness of heart. Sanctification is the process of becoming like Christ. In other words they believed that we aim for, and can reach perfection in our sanctification, as taught by John Wesley.

    The Primitive Methodist missionary pioneers also believed that our life here on earth is temporary. In their terminology, life is but a “probationary existence”. We human beings are destined to face the Great Judgment where Christ will be judge of all. The apostle Paul calls this “the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). God’s wrath or his righteous anger will one day be revealed to us all.

    Therefore they preached, boldly and courageously “flee from the wrath to come”. The pioneers believed in the reality of heaven and hell. Those who have been saved from God’s righteous anger, by the undeserved gift of God’s grace through Christ are saved to live and reign with Christ in heaven. Those who reject God’s free gift will face the consequences of God’s anger. They were clear and forthright about these eternal realities.

    As a result individuals, families and communities were transformed. Those whose lives and relationships were devastated by alcohol abuse, became sober. Men who dealt with anger by getting into fist fights became men of peace. Broken families were restored, relationships renewed, and hatred was replaced by love. Those who wasted their hard-earned wages on gambling became prudent with money. Foul-mouthed cursing men and women learned to speak words of truth and grace.

    In our day the religious and social landscape of Australia is very different from that of 1861.

    Today we live in a very different world. The Industrial Revolution has been and gone. The rate of technological change is breath-taking. The church in the Western world is in a serious state of decline, as older congregations die off and with fewer young people replacing them. Consequently many church buildings are being sold off. There are whole generations who are largely absent from the church today.

    But over the years the problems of human nature remain. Our communities are broken and in pain. Social evils such as alcohol abuse and gambling cause devastation all around. Families are breaking up under the pressures of modern living. Young people are not sure of their identity and sometimes fall into the depths of depression as a result. My identity - “Who I am” - is not determined by the number of friends on Facebook, but by what God thinks of me.

    As the celebrations of the opening of Jubilee Primitive Methodist Church 150 years ago go ahead, I pray that the life changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ may be proclaimed with fresh clarity, authority and power to a new generation of young people.




    Related Posts














    Monday, May 30, 2011

    On this day ...

    ... two hundred years ago a new movement emerged. One of the visible aspects of this movement was membership tickets.

    In May 1811, Hugh Bourne’s Camp Meeting Methodists and the Clowesites agreed to join forces. In so doing, a new denomination was born, although they had no formal name. The printed ticket of membership was the first visible symbol of corporate life. The tickets were dated May 30, 1811 and contained the following quotation from Acts 28:22 in the King James translation:

    “But we desire to hear of what thou thinkest:
    for as concerning this sect,
    we know that everywhere it is spoken against”

    Persecution and opposition became a badge of honour for this movement, later known as Primitive Methodism.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    On this day …

    … May 26, 1811, two hundred years ago, a new move of God began to take shape. It took place in Mr. Smith’s kitchen in Tunstall - the home styled pulpit is in the picture. The ripples from this movement would spread around the world in the decades to follow.



    In May 1811, two separate groups, Hugh Bourne’s Camp Meeting Methodists and William Clowes’ group (the Clowesites) agreed to join forces. In so doing, a new denomination was born, although they had no formal name.
    On May 26 they gathered in Mr. Smith’s kitchen, and agreed on the rudimentary organisation of the new denomination. They agreed that two itinerant preachers, James Crawfoot and William Clowes, would be maintained by the contributions of the joint societies. These travelling preachers were missionaries who went from place to place, preaching in the open-air, in public spaces, such as market places, farmers’ fields or any available location.

    The new movement had a basic form of organisation. It had distinctive characteristics, namely zealous and vehement prayer with a strong evangelistic focus. They were passionate about preaching the gospel. Their methods including loud shouting and singing, open-air preaching and Camp Meetings. They inherited the Methodist structure of classes, societies, circuits and local preachers.

    From such humble origins began a movement that dramatically changed lives and communities in England and well beyond.



    Related Posts




    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    What’s in a name?

    Every person has a name. Everyone has a name that they would prefer to be called by. Some of us also have names that others give to us, such as a nickname. We may or may not like the name or names people call us, but we cannot control how others refer to us.

    Like people, every identifiable movement of God has a name.

    The early followers of Jesus chose a name for themselves. They described themselves as followers of The Way (Acts 9:2, Acts 22:4, Acts 24:14). This is the name the believers preferred.

    But the name that others gave them was first used in Antioch. Acts 11:26 says “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch”. The word Christian means "Christ followers" or "those of the household of Christ". It is used three times in the New Testament. In Acts 26:28 ‘Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”‘ Peter observes “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1Peter 4:16) For the early believers, being known as a Christian was not easy.

    The Jewish religion was legally protected by Rome. Being known as Christians meant that they risked losing that protection. They were not just a sect within Judaism. They had much in common with the Jews but they appealed to non Jews as well.

    It is quite possible that the name “Christian” was a term of derision when first used, but in the providence of God it was the name that stuck.




    The Primitive Methodists chose their own name on Feb 13, 1812. They decided on “The Society of the Primitive Methodists”. But like the early Christians they had another name not of their own choosing.

    For the pioneer Primitive Methodists their “Antioch” was the village of Belper in Derbyshire in 1814. It was there that they were first called “Ranters”. It was definitely not a name they would have chosen for themselves.

    In fact the name Ranter was most often used as a term of derision, scorn and abuse. Many a young convert experienced verbal assault as their persecutors and opponents mockingly called them a Ranter.

    However, there was an upside to the name. When word got round that a Ranter preacher was coming to town, a curious and sometimes hostile crowd would gather. It meant that you could not ignore the Ranters. You were either for them or against them.

    Ranter preachers often faced a barrage of eggs, rotting vegetables, mud and worse as they preached in the open air. Violence and opposition was part of the package for the early pioneers.

    The name Ranter was providentially used of God.

    So … what’s in a name? A great deal, but it may not be the one we would choose!



    Related posts


    1. Why 'Primitive' Methodism?

    2. How the Primitive Methodists got their name

    3. What's in a name?

    4. The Ranters are coming

    5. Opposing the work of God is a risky business

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Census reflections

    For research the best source is a primary source. Everything else is secondary, in more ways than one. Now with the benefit of technology, the 1851 Census of Religious Worship is online. It is a primary source for the attendance figures on Census Sunday of the various denominational groupings in the England at that time.

    It shows that over half a million people (511,193 to be precise) attended Primitive Methodist places of worship on that day. This includes people who attended multiple services.

    The other Christian groups with larger attendance were

    • Church of England 5.2 million (5,202,551)

    • Independents 1.2 million (1,214,059)

    • Particular Baptists 740 thousand (740,732)

    • Wesley Original Connexion 1.5million (1,544,528)

    What is remarkable is that the Primitive Methodists began with 10 formal members in 1810. Now just over forty years later they were the fifth largest denominational group in England.

    The motto of the Primitive Methodists was “What hath God wrought!” Certainly this was a significant movement of God that grew rapidly.

    Here is the Census extract



    Other 1851 Census References


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


    2. Raising an army


    3. Movements that Change the World


    4. 1851 Census of Religious worship

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Changing the world, one life at a time

    The 1851 Census makes the following observation about 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, unformal energy (sic) 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.” (An improvident is one who is careless, reckless or negligent)

    A typical convert was someone whose life was characterised by drunken violence, cursing and swearing, fighting, gambling and reckless living. A prime example is that of one of the founders of the movement, William Clowes. The Primitive Methodists were a loud and noisy group, who saw lives, families and communities changed through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They ministered to the poor, rough and tough members of the community.


    How much we need a movement like this in our society today.

    Here is the quote in context



    Other 1851 Census References
    1. Every convert: one criminal, one drunkard, one improvident, less
    2. Raising an army
    3. Movements that Change the World
    4. 1851 Census of Religious worship

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Secrets of success

    We all like to read success stories. How did they do it? How did the Primitive Methodists begin a church planting movement that spread throughout every county in England in just a few decades?

    One of the answers is they used lay people. The 1851 Census makes the following observation:
    At present, the grand employers of lay agency, amongst Dissenters, are the Methodists, who, in the aggregate, possess as many as 20,000 preachers and class leaders not belonging to the ministerial order. Nothing, probably, has more contributed than this to their success amongst the working population. (1851 Census of Religious Worship, page 100).


    The Methodists, both Wesleyan and Primitive were skilled in raising up lay preachers and class leaders. The Primitive Methodists in particular, were a lay controlled movement. They understood the power and benefit of identifying and using lay people in ministry.

    When Hugh Bourne died in 1852, he had an army of local preachers, class leaders and Sunday School teachers who carried on the work of ministry. Such a large body of lay leaders helps prevent the “cork in the bottle” problem, where a movement is limited by the scarcity of full time, professionally trained ministers.

    In his book, Movements that Change the World, Steve Addison identifies rapid mobilisation as one of the essential keys for expanding church planting movements. An army of lay leaders enables rapid expansion.

    Here is the actual Census quotation in context


    Other 1851 Census References


    1. Every convert: one criminal, one drunkard, one improvident, less
    2. Raising an army
    3. Movements that Change the World
    4. 1851 Census of Religious worship

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    A powerful gospel

    The message proclaimed and preached by the Primitive Methodist pioneers was powerful in its effect.


    One such preacher was John Wedgwood, who was the first Primitive Methodist to be imprisoned for open-air preaching in 1817. So powerful was the preaching of Wedgwood and his fellow pioneers that their hearers would sometimes fall to the ground, asking God for mercy.


    On one occasion in 1819 when back at Tunstall, the home base for the whole movement, a group of “mourners” were on the ground “crying out for mercy”, in response to Wedgwood’s preaching. Mourners were those who were wrestling with their grief over sin. As a general rule, new converts experienced the process of such mourning, before they came to freedom as new believers in Christ.


    On this occasion, a respectable man stood aloof watching the proceedings remarking with considerable disdain “Before I would demean myself as these people are doing there, I would have my hand cut off.”


    Soon he too was on the ground crying earnestly for mercy like the rest.[1]


    What would happen if the gospel had similar effect today?


    Related links


    Go to jail, go directly to jail (part three)


    Go to jail, go directly to jail (part two)


    Go to jail, go directly to jail


    Dynamic prayer meetings (part two)


    Equipping an army


    [1] The Primitive Methodist Connexion: Its Background and early history, pp, 112-113

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    The storm about hell continues

    Normally at the end of the month I post a simple summary of posts. This month however has been noted in the wider community for a stormy discussion about hell.

    I began with a post reviewing a survey by the UK Evangelical Alliance, which showed that the issue over which there is greatest uncertainty is the reality of hell. Only 37% of evangelicals strongly agree that hell is a place where the condemned will suffer eternal conscious pain. Note that this was a survey of 17,000 evangelical believers.

    The media storm was triggered by Rob Bell's promotion and launch of his book, Love Wins which examines the Biblical doctrines of heaven and hell. The blogo-sphere and twitter-verse exploded with comment. It subsequently became mainstream news on CNN.

    It also seems one of the common links of the case for and against is "Mars Hill". Let me explain.

    Rob Bell is pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He proposes what is essentially a universalist approach - in other words "it'll all be alright in the end".

    Here is Rob Bell's interview with Martin Bashir.


    Click here to view the YouTube clip.

    Mark Driscoll is pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He teaches the reality of heaven and hell and how the idea of God's love is consonant with his righteous anger (wrath).

    Here is an extract from Mark Driscoll's sermon on Heaven and Hell given on Sunday 27 March 2011.




    Click here to view the full sermon, based on Luke 16:19-31.

    In my posts I have explained how the Primitive Methodists were derailed by liberal theology in the late 1880s, over similar questions. By 1900 their theology changed from ‘the Divine Sovereignty’ to ‘the Fatherhood of God’. The all-loving father figure disposed of hell. In effect God became a Santa Claus like figure who presided over the Sunday School picnic. By the time of their centenary in 1907 the doctrine of hell was being substantially watered down.

    It seems as though we've been here before.

    Related posts


    UK Evangelical Alliance survey

    The gathering storm

    A hell of a storm

    Heaven and hell: an inconvenient truth?

    Eternal consequences

    Doing a U-turn

    Going off track (1)

    Going off track (2)

    Going off track (3)

    Going off track – heresy

    Simple Gospel or Social Gospel?


    Other blogs


    Remaining Clear On What Is Clear: On Rob Bell Again

    On Hell

    Bell on Hell

    Out of Ur - Rob Bell: Universalist?

    Gospel Coalition - Rob Bell: Universalist?

    To Hell with Hell


    Mark Driscoll on Emerging Church - this message has renewed relevance

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    The gathering storm

    In the last week there has been a media storm over heaven and hell. The Blogo-sphere and Twitter-verse exploded with comment, debate and opinion on the question of whether a loving God will send people to hell. It was provoked by Rob Bell's promotion of his new book “Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived”. See other blogs below for some examples.

    Similar ideas derailed the Primitive Methodist movement over a century ago. From the mid 1870s various Methodist groups were affected by the acceptance of liberal theology, which included a new and radically different concept of heaven and hell.

    Robert Currie notes that after 1875 the concept of hell was increasingly modified. Primitive Methodists noted the concealment of hell in ‘soft and dainty phrases’.

    In 1900, Joseph Ritson noted,

    ‘At the opening of the [nineteenth] century the doctrine of eternal punishment was held almost universally and in its most literal and absolute form… It is still in the creeds, and in some form it is still held by many in all the churches; but it cannot be denied that comparatively little is heard of it in the pulpit.’[1]

    The Primitive Methodist pioneers preached a confronting message, namely “flee from the wrath to come”. With the advent of liberalism, the concept of God’s wrath, or righteous anger was downplayed.

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, there was not a lot to flee from and the realities of heaven and hell became much more vague concepts. A Ranter preacher had no message to proclaim.

    The idea of progress led Methodism to reconstruct its concept of the deity. A Primitive Methodist writing in 1900 saw the most significant change in nineteenth century theology as that from ‘the Divine Sovereignty’ to ‘the Fatherhood of God’…. The all-loving father figure disposed of hell.[2]

    Time will tell how the current debate over Rob Bell's book will play out.


    Related posts

    A hell of a storm

    What UK evangelicals think

    Heaven and hell: an inconvenient truth?

    Eternal consequences

    Doing a U-turn

    Going off track (1)

    Going off track (2)

    Going off track (3)

    Going off track – heresy

    Simple Gospel or Social Gospel?


    Other blogs

    Waiting for Rob Bell

    Out of Ur - Rob Bell: Universalist?

    Gospel Coalition - Rob Bell: Universalist?

    To Hell with Hell

    [1] Robert Currie, Methodism Divided, (Faber and Faber, London, 1968), p119, quoting the Primitive Methodist magazine December 1900, pp. 823-824

    [2] Robert Currie, Methodism Divided, (Faber and Faber, London, 1968), p122

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    A hell of a storm

    In the last week there has been a media storm over heaven and hell. The Blogo-sphere and Twitter-verse exploded with comment, debate and opinion on the question of whether a loving God will send people to hell. It was provoked by Rob Bell's promotion of his new book “Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived”. See other blogs below for some examples.

    Whilst the storm rages here is a link to a level headed response by Scot McKnight :

    Waiting for Rob Bell

    Mcknight writes

    "My own estimation is that somewhere near 75% of my students, many if not most of them nurtured in the church, are more or less (soft) universalists. They believe in Jesus and see themselves as Christians but don’t find significant problems in God saving Muslims and Buddhists or anyone else on the basis of how God makes such decisions. The Baylor Study of Religion, if my memory is correct, asked a question or two that reveals that an increasing number of American evangelical Christians think the majority of humans will be saved. That’s the issue and Rob Bell had the moxie to write a book about it. He’s rattled cages with his promo video and he will undoubtedly stir the waters in the book"


    McKnight's contention is this:

    "the approach to this generation is not to denounce their questions, which often enough are rooted in a heightened sensitivity to divine justice and compassion, but to probe their questions from the inside and to probe thoughtful and biblically-responsible resolutions. We need to show that their questions about justice and God’s gracious love are not bad questions but good questions that deserve to be explored"

    It's a challenging debate and one that the Primitive Methodists faced over a century ago.

    Related posts

    What UK evangelicals think

    Heaven and hell: an inconvenient truth?

    Eternal consequences

    Doing a U-turn

    Going off track (1)

    Going off track (2)

    Going off track (3)

    Going off track – heresy

    Simple Gospel or Social Gospel?


    Other blogs

    Waiting for Rob Bell

    Out of Ur - Rob Bell: Universalist?

    Gospel Coalition - Rob Bell: Universalist?

    To Hell with Hell

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    What UK evangelicals think

    Recent research by the UK Evangelical Alliance discovers some interesting facts.

    The survey of 17,000 people gives an insight into the beliefs, opinions and habits of evangelical Christians in the UK. Respondents were asked a range of questions on topics like belief in miracles, abortion, the Bible and sex before marriage.

    Here is the Online view (best viewed in full screen mode)

    Download the PDF

    • Whilst the survey affirms distinctive characteristics, there is divergence and uncertainty in a number of areas

    • The issue over which there is greatest uncertainty is the reality of hell. 37% of evangelicals strongly agree that hell is a place where the condemned will suffer eternal conscious pain.

    • There is a spectrum of opinions on other issues such as abortion, assisted suicide and homosexuality

    • The percentage of those who read or listen to the Bible everyday goes up markedly after the age of 44 (of whom only 38% read or listen to the Bible everyday)

    Here is the full survey

    Related posts

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Summary of blog posts - February

    Here is a summary from my blog of the posts for February. The main theme is ten things we can learn which is based on the latest draft of my book, “Turning the World Upside Down – lessons from the Primitive Methodist movement.”

    Ten things we can learn from the Primitive Methodists

    Always hope

    How do you train lay leaders?

    Equipping an army

    Having a high view of the Bible

    Keeping on track

    Persecution is part of the package

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Always hope

    God’s Spirit abhors a vacuum.

    In 1800 the spiritual needs of the working classes were being largely ignored. In his divine providence, God raised a movement that transformed the lives of ordinary men and women. Today we have a different problem. In the Western world there is a missing generation of young people who are noticeably absent from our conventional churches.

    Research consistently shows that there is a crisis of enormous proportions facing the church as the rate of decline increases. These lost young people represent the harvest field for another great move of God.



    The Primitive Methodist story shows us that there is always hope, no matter how difficult the need.

    Related links and posts

    1. Why Innovation is Needed in Church Life

    2. Age profile of church attenders

    3. What’s in a name? Why “Primitive” Methodism?