Archive for the ‘Revival’ Category

August 6, 1801: Revival hits a Presbyterian camp meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky (as pictured in sketch below). Within a week, 25,000 were attending the revival services.

Cane Ridge became the largest and most famous camp meeting of the Second Great Awakening.

Although the revival at Cane Ridge grew out of a Presbyterian gathering, it helped spark the Methodist camp meeting movement, as noted by theologian Fred Sanders of Biola University.

Preachers from numerous denominations arrived [at Cane Ridge], set up pulpits in tree stands, and preached; sometimes as many as seven preachers at once addressing different crowds throughout the woods. There was a lot of fainting, swooning, shouting, and dancing as the days went by.

In the aftermath, Presbyterians pretty much washed their hands of it and backed away. It was the Methodists who, while denouncing the excesses of the event, nevertheless were proud to claim ownership. They retroactively dubbed it a camp meeting staffed by circuit riders, and promoted similar revivals elsewhere.

August 7, 1771: Francis Asbury answers John Wesley’s call for volunteers to go to America as missionaries. He would become the father of American Methodism.

A biography of Asbury was released in 2009, American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists (Oxford University Press).

August 10, 70: Roman troops, sent to put down a Jewish rebellion, break through the walls of Jerusalem and destroy the temple.

August 21, 1741: Composer George Frideric Handel (left) shuts himself up in his home to write the oratorio, Messiah. He finished the composition only 23 days later.

“Whether I was in the body or out of the body when I wrote it, I know not,” he later said.

August 27, 1727: Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf‘s Moravian community at Herrnhut, Germany, begins a round-the-clock “prayer chain.” At least one person in the community prayed every minute of the day — for more than 100 years.

August 31, 1688: English Puritan writer and preacher John Bunyan (right), author of Pilgrim’s Progress, dies at age 69.

Though one of England’s most famous authors even in his own day, he maintained his pastoral duties until his death, caused by a cold he caught while riding through the rain to reconcile father and son.

Adapted with permission from ChristianHistory.net.

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Steve Hawthorne, director of the prayer ministry Waymakers, offers interesting insights about the event we call Palm Sunday, which this year is celebrated on April 1.

He notes that in the days leading up to the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus had “instigated a movement of hope throughout the towns and villages of the entire region” as He performed miracles and answered prayers.

triumphal-entry-jesusofnazarethBy the time He rode into Jerusalem to shouts of praise, “the whole city was stirred and [people] asked ‘Who is this?'” (Matt. 21:20).

For several days after the Triumphal Entry, Jesus taught at the temple, and “all the people hung on his words” (Luke 19:48).

By the end of the week, of course, the Lord’s adversaries had him arrested and crucified. But Scripture says the arrest occurred during the dark of the night, “because [Jesus’ enemies] were afraid of the people” (Luke 22:2).

In his Lenten-season prayer guide, Seek God for the City, Hawthorne notes:

1) “Palm Sunday shines as prophetic picture of the spiritual awakening Christ desires to bring [in communities everywhere]”; and

2) “Whenever there has been revival, it has been a partial fulfillment of the promise of Palm Sunday.”

To help pastors, Sunday School teachers, and small-group leaders explain the significance of Palm Sunday, Waymakers has posted background information here, along with three sermon suggestions.

Use the audio player below to listen to a 12-minute excerpt of Steve Hawthorne teaching about Palm Sunday and Holy Week. He was recorded in 2008 at Christ Church in Austin, Texas, a congregation associated with the Anglican Church in North America. (Player won’t work? Click here.)

Steve Hawthorne holds a Masters degree from the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary. With Graham Kendrick, he is the co-author of Prayerwalking: Praying On-Site with Insight.

A Palm Sunday prayer: “Father, we pray for spiritual awakening and shouts of praise here, as Jesus enters our city with His presence and power. Stir people to ask, ‘Who is this?’ — that we might proclaim to them the One who is the way, the truth, and the life.”

Related resources
Background information about Palm Sunday, plus three Palm Sunday sermon suggestions | Waymakers
A Service of Prayer, Scripture and Song for Holy Week | United Methodist General Board of Discipleship

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With a goal of fostering “flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ,” the Fellowship of Presbyterians, a group of more than 500 theologically conservative congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has unveiled a new “denominational entity”: the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO). The official unveiling occurred at a Jan. 18-20 Covenanting Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The new entity will work with like-minded congregations that decide to remain part of the PC(USA) or choose to cut ties with the older denomination.

“The Fellowship offers three different options for affiliation so congregations can pursue what best honors their ministry context,” according to a news release (PDF) from the Fellowship of Presbyterians.

“The options are: affiliate with the Fellowship as a ministry association (involves no change in status with the PC(USA)); pursue a union membership with the PC(USA) and ECO; and join ECO as full members (requiring dismissal from the PC(USA)),” the release said.

In an address introducing ECO, the Rev. John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California, said the new denomination was created to help local churches become more effective in making disciples.

You all know what has been going on in mainline denominations, including our own — shrinking memberships and fading churches and aging clergy and lessening evangelism and a preoccupation with survival and internal strife and external irrelevance.

And it is not just theological drift….

[But w]hat if God were to raise up a movement? What if [the] torch for a thoughtful, reflective, urgent, egalitarian, globally active, culturally engaged, Jesus-centered, evangelical faith [were to be] wed with courageous, innovative, bold, risk-taking, bold entrepreneurial ministry leadership? And the torch of this faith were to burn more brightly in this generation than in the last one?

John Ortberg

We’re not talking about a safe, easy, reassuring step from one denomination to another as a way of expressing denominational displeasure….

Purity by separation has been tried before. If the new entity that we talking about is only that, it will just deteriorate a little more slowly….

[But i]magine God were to launch a movement of Spirit-led, Jesus-centered churches where pastors and leaders took seriously the biblical injunction to become teachers of the nations, so that our world and culture could hear in Him that there is such a thing as moral and spiritual knowledge that can guide human lives….

Imagine that the claims of Jesus were to receive a fresh hearing our day because they were being expressed in thoughtful, winsome, non-churchy, literate ways by Jesus followers who had wrestled and studied and prayed, and sought to follow Jesus with all of their hearts….

Imagine a movement where church meetings and denominational meetings never waste anybody’s time…. Imagine a movement that when leaders gather together, it is to learn and to receive vision and to mentor…and to be accountable and to encourage one another….

Imagine that when leaders get together they talk about things like: How do you reach people who don’t know Jesus so they can get to know Jesus? How can you worship better? How can you help the under-resourced people more effectively? How do you make disciples? How do you do justice?….

Can God not do that? Has the Holy Spirit lost His power?

As we…have talked and prayed about a new denominational entity, the idea, the prayer was that it be not just a denominational alternative — [but] that there might be a structure that could be a vehicle and a servant of a movement….

The job of a denomination is the serve the local church, not the other way around…. And the idea is…real simple: to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Because the church really has one job — to make disciples, followers, of Jesus.

Streaming video of Mr. Ortberg’s full address is below. A downloadable mp3 audio file is here (18 MB).

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Related articles and information
New evangelical Presbyterian body unveiled | Michael Gryboski, Christian Post (Jan. 21, 2012)
Conservative Presbyterians launch new denomination | Daniel Burke, Religion News Service (Jan. 20, 2012)
A bold church unafraid: Fellowship casts vision | Leslie Scanlon, Presbyterian Outlook (Jan. 19, 2012)
Introducing ECO: the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians | Carmen Fowler LaBerge, The Layman (Jan. 19, 2012)
Fellowship of Presbyterians unveils name for ‘new Reformed body’ | Jerry L. Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service (Jan. 19, 2012)

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The following commentary is by Terry Teykl, author of The Presence-Based Church, My Most Wanted: 40 Days to Pray for the Lost, and Pray the Price: United Methodists United in Prayer.

Dr. Terry Teykl

An elder in the Texas Annual Conference, Dr. Teykl is a “prayer evangelist,” traveling across the U.S. and around the world encouraging churches to develop and maintain prayer ministries.

He also serves as the “prayer pastor” at Faithbridge UMC in Spring, Texas.

Terry Teykl holds a Master of Theology from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree with honors from Oral Roberts University.

He is the founder of Renewal Ministries and Prayer Point Press.

I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
(Jesus in Matthew 16:18)

As the Church of Jesus Christ, are we overcoming — or are we being overcome?

I have to ask myself that question as I read about the events going on in our world today and the struggles our denomination is facing. Hemorrhaging and weak, we hardly seem like the prevailing church that started in the Upper Room and spread throughout an entire continent within a year-and-a-half.

I believe one reasons for our dysfunction is that we have become a church sold out to people. We have bought into consumerism and all the tenets thereof. The consumer-driven marketplace feeds on such factors as ingenuity, entertainment location, and image. The mottos are, “Make the customer happy. Give ’em what they want and they will come back for more. Make a profit at all cost.” The individual consumer is the prize.

While consumerism has its place in the marketplace, it is not difficult to see why it becomes a toxic virus when it is allowed to bleed over into the church.

When, as a church, we buy into the consumerism model, we begin to forfeit our birthrights as part of Jesus’ earthly bride. Driven by marketing, image control, and entertainment value, we allow ourselves to be shaped by the needs and desires of the church-shopping masses.

The whole thing becomes a people-to-people affair based on research and statistics. We do religious things based on careful assessment of human behavior in the “church industry.” Like Martha in the kitchen, we get so busy serving people that we neglect Jesus in the living room!

Being “culturally relevant” is fine — please hear me — but the church exists for God’s pleasure, not the pleasure of humankind. We are His bride, His love, created to represent Him and worship Him to His glory and honor.

We are not to be a consumer-based church, but a Presence-based church, sold out to inviting and welcoming the Presence of God.

Becoming Presence-based

The Presence-based church isn’t defined by procedures or specific worship styles. A Presence-based church doesn’t surface by following a prescribed formula, such as singing certain songs or ministering to people in a certain way.

Most importantly, a church is not Presence-based because of what it does or doesn’t do on Sunday morning. A church service is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. It is simply a weekly expression of all that is going on under the surface.

Any church can become more Presence-based than it currently is. Any congregation, regardless of size or affiliation, can desire more of God and hunger for His manifest Presence. The issue is not so much about how we worship, but why we worship, and the heart attitude that we embody.

The Presence-based church isn’t interested in the question, “Are we attracting people?” but rather, “Are we attracting the Presence of God,” and, “Is He welcome and honored above all else?”

To be Presence-based, we must, like the Israelites in the desert, put the new Ark, which is Jesus, in the very center of our camp and be led, governed, taught, and sustained by Him alone. He is to be our identity.

The ‘Mary’ heart

Though there are several characteristics of a Presence-based church, the most distinguishing mark is a passion and hunger to know God as expressed through worship and prayer. Presence-based churches have the heart of Mary, who loved nothing more than sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Like the Levites who waited in the temple, lured by an intense fascination with the Ark of the Covenant, the people of the Presence-based church have tasted the incomparable sweetness of God’s nearness and bear His divine imprint. They worship because they are drawn to the Presence of God, and because being created by God for that purpose, they feel more alive and fulfilled during worship than at any other time. It is their passion and purpose.

In the Presence-based church, worship isn’t confined to a one hour service on Sunday morning. It is an ongoing dance that engages all that we are in loving all that He is. Presence-based worship is a response to a God who is so terrifyingly magnificent, yet so intimately known, that praise and adoration burst forth naturally and without effort. It cannot be contained.

Small groups worship at the feet of Jesus. The worship leaders usher the congregation to the feet of Jesus Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Even board meetings engage the business of the church at the feet of Jesus.

The Presence-based church lives on the cutting edge of worship because its people are constantly looking for ways to press past any barriers that would hinder their expression of love and adoration.

Worship leaders in Presence-based churches may ask people to bow or kneel or worship in a prolonged period of silence and listening. They may introduce His people to worship music from different cultures. Occasionally, they may even dismiss the visitors at the end of the service and invite the regular members to stay and continue worshiping past noon.

Outside the camp

The prayer life of the Presence-based church follows a similar pattern. Hungry to know God’s ways, His glory, His heart, His voice, His rest and His thoughts, the people push past prayer that meets human agendas to seek God just for Himself. They pray to see His face, not just move His hand.

This is a realm of prayer that few ever experience. It is the purist form of prayer that teeters close to the edge of worship — that of praying to know God for no other reason except that He is worthy to be known.

It is the prayer of healthy desperation, a yearning prayer without crisis. It longs to press against the veil of the spiritual realm with such humility and endurance that the breath of God can be felt.

The Presence-based church goes beyond the familiar to seek God. Just as Moses went “outside the camp” to be with God in the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 33:7), the Presence-based church is always pushing past the successes of yesterday and going beyond the normal routine of church life to pray and experience God in new ways.

Seeking God, romancing with Him, deepens our spiritual understanding and faith. It greatly enhances God’s ability to transform lives and impact communities through us. That is why we need to go outside the camp to seek God for all that He is.

Vast knowledge and profound experience awaits the body of believers that can shake free from the familiar long enough to gaze at the heavens and listen for the heartbeat of God.

Many of our churches today are experiencing “Presence starvation,” and the deficiency is crippling. They have fasted the Presence for so long that they have forgotten what it is like to feast. All the while, Jesus is in the living room, beckoning anyone who will to come and sit at His feet.

Those who do will have “chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from [them]” (Luke 10:42).

Used by permission of Terry Teykl and Prayer Point Press: www.PrayerPoint Press.com

Related post
Podcast — Terry Teykl: ‘Praying for the Lost’

Related articles and information
Prayer and Presence: Not prominent in the Call to Action | Good News magazine (March/April 2011)
Excerpt from My Most Wanted Devotional: 40 Days to Pray for the Lost (PDF)
Biography of Terry Teykl (Microsoft Word file)
Why you should start a prayer room in your church | Terry Teykl, ForMinistry.com
30 Scripture-based prayers to pray for your pastor (PDF) | Terry Teykl, Church Prayer Leaders Network
Interview with Terry Teykl about the Houston area’s ‘Pray Down at High Noon’ prayer focus | KSBJ (several audio clips)
Terry Teykl — chapel address at the Wilmore, Ky., campus of Asbury Theological Seminary (Sept. 9, 2008)

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Beginning tomorrow and continuing through Palm Sunday on April 17, many Christians throughout the U.S. and around the world will be observing a 40-day season of prayer, roughly coinciding with the season of Lent.

Here are the areas of prayer focus over the next several weeks, as described in the prayer guide, Seek God for the City.

  • March 9-19: Seeking God’s face
  • March 20-26: Seeking God to spread the gospel of Christ’s kingdom
  • March 27-April 2: Seeking God to bring the righteousness of Christ’s kingdom
  • April 3-9: Seeking God to bring the peace of Christ’s kingdom
  • April 10-16: Seeking God to bring the joy of Christ’s kingdom
  • April 17 (Palm Sunday): Welcoming Jesus Christ our King

The Seek God for the City prayer guide — available in both English and Spanish editions — can be ordered from Waymakers, a Texas-based ministry (copies are $3 each). A sample page is shown here.

children’s version is available free via PDF download.

An Ash Wednesday prayer for revival

Living God, we cry out for the renewal of life in your Church. Cause your Church to become everything Jesus died and rose again to make her.

We appeal to your never-failing love. Empower us to turn us from folly and toward the way of salvation.

Take us from dryness to a time of refreshing. Take us from ashes to fire.

And through a revived and Christ-focused Church, may your glory dwell in our cities and throughout our land.

In Jesus we pray. Amen.

Related posts
A Lenten focus: ‘Prayers of biblical hope’ (2009)
Podcast: Terry Teykl on ‘Praying for the Lost’

Related article
Why you should start a prayer room in your church | Terry Teykl, Renewal Ministries

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This is the second installment of a monthly MethodistThinker feature for 2011 that  presents excerpts from the writings of John Wesley, co-founder of the Methodist movement.

Because the use of language changes with the passage of time, the wording in these excerpts has been slightly updated, based on the adaptation found in Renew My Heart (Barbour Books, 2011).

The following is from John Wesley’s sermon, “Salvation by Faith.” A link to the full text of the original sermon is included in the links below.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)

Salvation by faith must be preached as the first doctrine, and it must be preached to all. The Holy Spirit says, through St. Paul, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

“Whoever believes on Him shall be saved” is, and must be, the foundation to all else. That is, it must be preached first, and it must be preached to all. We must exclude no one. Not the poor. Not the unlearned. Not the young. For our commission is, “Go and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Never has maintaining the doctrine of salvation by faith been more seasonable that at this day. Nothing but this doctrine can effectually prevent the increase of delusions among us. Attacking one by one all the errors that assail us would be endless. But salvation by faith strikes at the root, and all errors fall at once where this truth is established.

It is this doctrine, justly called the strong rock and foundation of the Christian religion, that first established Christianity on this continent. It is this alone that can save us now.

Wesley statue in Bristol, England
Photo by Chris Bertram (used by permission)

Nothing but this can give a check to the immorality which has overspread the land as a flood.

Can you empty the ocean drop by drop? But let the righteousness which is of God by faith be brought in and the waves shall be stayed.

Nothing but this can stop the mouths of those who “glory in their shame” and openly deny the Lord that bought them.

Bring in the gospel. Begin with the righteousness of faith, with Christ, “the end of the law” to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).

Declaring salvation by faith strikes at the very foundations of hell. For this reason, our adversary stirred up earth and hell to destroy those who first preached it.

[But do not fear.] Even though you are as helpless and weak as a young infant, the strong man, Satan, will not be able to stand before you. You will prevail over him and subdue him, and overthrow him, and trample him under your feet.

March on, under the great captain of your salvation, conquering and to conquer, until all your enemies are destroyed, and “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Adapted in part from Renew My Heart,
published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

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A word from Mr. Wesley: ‘Salvation by faith’
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Related articles and information
Salvation by faith (full text) | The Rev. John Wesley (1738) (from The Sermons of John Wesley, 1872 Edition — Thomas Jackson, editor)
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This still new doctrine of salvation by faith | John Meunier (Sept. 28, 2010)

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The United Methodist Council of Bishops issues occasional statements and letters intended to “provide spiritual leadership” to the church.

Most recently (November 2009), the bishops issued a “pastoral letter” (PDF) asserting that “God’s creation is in crisis” and calling United Methodists to practice “social and environmental holiness by caring for God’s people and God’s planet and by challenging those whose policies and practices neglect the poor, exploit the weak, hasten global warming, and produce more weapons.”

Bill Bouknight

(A companion web site, featuring “eco-justice resources,” is at HopeAndAction.org; a related YouTube video is here.)

Writing in the March/April issue (PDF) of the We Confess newsletter, Dr. Bill Bouknight, associate director of the United Methodist Confessing Movement, suggests that the Council of Bishops would have provided better spiritual leadership by issuing a letter that set forth the urgent need for the UMC to reclaim its doctrine and its mission.

Below are excerpts from Dr. Bouknight’s article, “What We Wish the Bishops Had Written,” written in the style of a Council of Bishops’ letter:

The early Methodists provided many services for people, especially for the poor, ministering in areas of education, prisons, health care, and financial stewardship. But always their first calling was to call people to repent of sin and to trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for their salvation.

“Know your disease!” said [Methodist founder John] Wesley. “Know your cure! You were born in sin; therefore, you must be born again, born of God” (Works of John Wesley, II, p. 185)

Brothers and sisters, our primary mandate from Scripture is “to go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). With sorrow and shame, we confess that we have not been faithful to that mandate. With the exception of a few regions of our Church, [such as in] Africa, we have lost our evangelical focus and passion.

In contrast to the Early Church in which “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47), we seem to have forgotten how to assist God in reaching lost people with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ….

UM episcopal shield

The number of new members received [into the United Methodist Church] by profession of faith is less than half what it was in the 1950s. Over 40 percent of our local churches did not receive even one new member last year by profession of faith….

God asked Ezekiel the prophet, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel replied, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3).

And indeed, those dry bones became alive again by the gift of God’s Spirit. The same can happen in our beloved UMC.

With humility in our hearts and with a passionate desire to see the UMC become a mighty movement for God, we, the Council of Bishops, urge all United Methodists to join us in taking the following steps:

1. Following the example of John Wesley, let us observe a weekly fast, repenting for having failed to be an obedient church and especially for having failed to declare the cross-centered gospel to lost persons.

We bishops confess that we have failed to fulfill a promise we made when we were consecrated — “to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church” (Book of Discipline, ¶404.1).

2. We call the Church’s attention to the following fundamentals of the gospel, as expressed in our Book of Discipline:

All people in their natural condition are lost souls who need salvation.

“We believe man is fallen from righteousness and, apart from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, is destitute of holiness and inclined to evil” (Article VII, Articles of Religion).

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (Article VII, Confession of Faith).

“We believe in the resurrection of the dead; the righteous to life eternal and the wicked to endless condemnation” (Article XIII, Confession of Faith).

The only way to be saved is to repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior and Lord.

“Christ was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men” (Article II, Articles of Religion).

“The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world…and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone” (Article XIX, Articles of Religion).

3. We bishops resolve to teach a course at least annually within our respective Annual Conferences on the basic beliefs in our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith. We will invite clergy and laity to attend. Then we will urge our clergy and laity to replicate that course in their respective charges.

4. We urge all ministers to extend regularly an invitation to Christian discipleship in the context of their worship services. Worshipers should be invited to repent of their sin and to trust in the crucified and risen Christ for their personal salvation.

5. We deplore the fact that approximately 43 percent of our local churches did not receive a single new member by profession of faith last year. We pledge, with the assistance of our district superintendents, to meet with pastors of those churches in order to offer to them specific suggestions for helping God lead persons to make professions of faith.

6. We affirm that the single most important criterion of a local church’s faithfulness in ministry is that new disciples are being made and new members being received by profession of faith. Our Lord’s last mandate — “Go and make disciples” — is and should be our first and most important task.

Brothers and sisters, we will undergird these commitments with daily prayers for the renewal of the UMC. Please join your prayers with ours. God may yet make our “dry bones” live again. Rather than becoming a “dead sect” as Wesley feared, we may yet become a mighty worldwide movement for Jesus Christ.

Lord, come quickly and let it be so!

Bill Bouknight retired from the pastorate in 2007 after more than 40 years of serving churches in South Carolina and Tennessee. He became an associate director of the Confessing Movement in August 2008.

Dr. Bouknight is the author of The Authoritative Word: Preaching Truth in a Skeptical Age (Abingdon, 2001), and If Disciples Grew Like Kudzu (Bristol House, 2007). He was educated at Duke University, the University of Edinburgh, and Yale Divinity School.

The initial meeting of what became the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church was convened in 1994 by Bishop William R. Cannon, Dr. Maxie Dunnam of Asbury Theological Seminary, and Dr. Thomas C. Oden of the Drew University School of Theology.

Emblem of the Confessing Movement Within the UMC

Their purpose, in the words of the late Bishop Cannon, was to call the church “to renew itself through adherence to the standard teachings of Christianity and the basic doctrines of the United Methodist Church.”

The UM Confessing Movement’s confessional statement, adopted in 1995 at an Atlanta gathering of 900 United Methodists, is here (PDF).

A study published in late 2002 by the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion found that approximately 40 percent of UM pastors “either support the ideals of or participate in” the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

Related posts
Bill Bouknight: Methodists are saying ‘No’ to their leaders
Bill Bouknight: The bad news from General Conference ‘08
Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ‘08
Podcast: Bill Bouknight on ‘The Resurrection of Jesus Christ’
Bishop Lindsey Davis speaks to the Confessing Movement

Related articles and information
We Confess newsletter (PDF) | Confessing Movement (March/April 2010)
Conference data comparison 2007-2008 (PDF) (all five U.S. jurisdictions suffered a net loss of membership in 2008; not a single conference in the Northeastern, North Central, and Western Jurisdictions showed a gain) | Background Data for Mission, UM General Board of Global Ministries (March 2010)
Confessing Movement issues statement on unity | Daniel R. Gangler, United Methodist News Service (Sept. 28, 2005)
Address to the UM Confessing Movement national conference (PDF) | Bishop Scott Jones (Sept. 23, 2005)
Turning the Mainline around | Michael S. Hamilton and Jennifer McKinney, Christianity Today (Aug. 1, 2003)
A message to the United Methodist Church (PDF), adopted at the Confessing Movement Conference in Tulsa, Okla. | Confessing Movement (April 19, 1998)
Confessional statement of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church (PDF), adopted unanimously at the inaugural Confessing Movement Conference in Atlanta, Ga. | Confessing Movement (April 29, 1995)
Do we need a Confessing Movement? | Steve Harper, Good News magazine (March/April 1995)

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The following reflection on Pentecost was written in 2000 by Bishop G. Lindsey Davis, now episcopal leader of the Kentucky Annual Conference and the Red Bird Missionary Conference.

In many of our United Methodist churches, Pentecost Sunday will be observed only casually. For still others, no mention of Pentecost will be made at all.

It wasn’t that way in the early church! For the first 200 years of the Christian faith, there was only one major season of celebration — and it wasn’t Christmas.

come-holy-spiritInstead, it began around Easter and culminated 50 days later with the festival of Pentecost!

Pentecost was a day to stand amazed at the grace of God. It was a day to embrace a new Spirit — a time to allow the Holy Spirit of God to energize all their worship and their living.

For the early church, Pentecost was a highlight of the year — a day of excitement and sheer joy.

It was the same on the first Pentecost, when the disciples of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem. Acts 2 tells us they experienced a dynamic outpouring of God’s presence that day that all but catapulted them into ministry — witnessing, proclaiming, loving, caring, teaching, baptizing, and sharing with one another.

That first Pentecost was God’s trumpet blast to the world, birthing the church of Jesus Christ.

Becoming Christ-bearers

The kind of wind-and-flame Christianity that flows from Pentecost isn’t safe. It is radically unsafe — and uncomfortable. It will cost you everything.

What difference did it make in the lives of the early believers to have the Spirit upon them? Read about it in the Book of Acts. They sold whatever they owned so they could make sure that each individual need was met; they followed a disciplined routine of worship, prayer, and Bible Study; they lived together in wonderful harmony.

And everyday God added to their number those who were being saved.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses,” Jesus proclaimed to His disciples. To be a witness for Him is to be a “Christ-bearer” — to bear the image of Jesus Christ at the deepest roots of who we are, what we do, and where we go.

To that end, may God’s Holy Spirit come and fall afresh on us!

Lindsey Davis was elected to the episcopacy at the 1996 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, after serving as a pastor and district superintendent in Kentucky. He served as the bishop of the North Georgia Conference from 1996-2008.

Look down and see this waiting host,
And send the promised Holy Ghost;
We need another Pentecost.
Send the fire today!

William Booth / Lex Loizides

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Stopping in for a brief visit last week at a United Methodist Church in Indiana, I was pleased to see a poster in the narthex indicating the congregation would be participating in this Sunday’s Global Day of Prayer. This international prayer event represents one of the most remarkable spiritual movements of our time.

GDOP-09The Global Day of Prayer had its beginnings in 2001, when a Day of Repentance and Prayer was held at Newlands Rugby Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2002, similar prayer events took place across South Africa.

In 2004, Christians throughout the African continent — in 56 nations — participated in a continental Day of Repentance and Prayer for Africa.

The first Global Day of Prayer took place on Pentecost Sunday 2005, with believers in 156 nations — including the United States — taking part. By Pentecost Sunday last year, the movement had spread to 214 nations.

Use the video player below to see excerpts from last year’s Global Day of Prayer observance, the largest prayer gathering in history.


Global Day of Prayer gatherings will be held this Sunday in stadiums, parks, local churches, and private homes.

Because this year the event falls on a “fifth Sunday,” the Day of Prayer will be observed in some communities as part of regularly scheduled “Fifth Sunday Community Services” that bring together several congregations for joint worship.

Each local Global Day of Prayer event will be unique, as believers in different parts of the world worship and pray according to their own cultures and customs. But at some point each gathering of believers — across all 200-plus nations — will pray the 2009 Prayer for World (PDF), a prayer of unity rooted in a common desire to see the unfolding of God’s purposes. In English, it reads in part:

King of Glory,
Come and finish Your work in our cities, our peoples and our nations.

We lift our voices in unison with believers from Africa and Asia,
from the Middle East and Europe, from North and South America,
and from Australia and the Pacific Islands — together we cry:
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Be lifted up ancient doors
so that the King of glory may come in!

As Your deeds increase throughout the earth,
and as Your blessings abound to all the nations,
they will seek You, asking, “Who is this King of glory?”
Together we will answer:
He is the Lord Almighty!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Come fill the earth with Your glory as the waters cover the sea.
The Spirit and the Bride say:
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

Many (but certainly not all) Global Day of Prayer events in the U.S. are shown here.

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South Georgia Bishop James King has a message for men in the Feb. 20 Wesleyan Christian Advocate, the newspaper of the North and South Georgia Conferences.

Professional economists suggest that the stock market has a way of correcting itself when things go to one extreme or the other. It appears that “correction” is a part of a divine design.

Bishop King (UMNS photo)

Bishop James King
(UMNS photo)

The need for correction is not new to Christians. The Bible exposes us to this reality from the very beginning.

When… discipline and restraint are abandoned, bad things begin to happen. If we spend what we do not have, it will eventually show. If we try to take shortcuts to success… it will come back to haunt us.

If we try to be the church without teaching and practicing the values of our faith, it will show in the lives of men and women who have lost their way….

Grace is how God provides us with new opportunities to correct ourselves and grow closer to God.

Men of God, there are too many men who have moved away from our Biblical and Wesleyan teachings. We have come to the inevitable: a season of correction….

Do not fight what is happening, for it is a good thing. We are returning to God.

Let us continue to grow in the grace God provides — as we travel on the road to holiness.

“Return to me,” declares the LORD Almighty, “and I will return to you.”
Zechariah 1:3

“They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them.”
2 Chronicles 15:15

Last August, Bishop James King was elected president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, a national post.

He blogs at BishopKing.com.

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For many Christians Lent has been transformed from a season focused on self-denial to a season focused on passionate praying for the fulfillment of God’s purposes in the world.

sg09The catalyst for that transformation is Seek God for the City, a prayer guide published yearly since 1996 by Waymakers, a ministry based in Austin, Texas. The guide aims to help followers of Christ pray “prayers of biblical hope” during the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday.

“We tend to pray just enough to get by,” notes Waymakers’ founder Steve Hawthorne, with “many of our prayers focus[ing] on fixing our own personal problems.”

But Hawthorne says we must learn “to pray beyond ourselves” — and to “pray with uplifted hopes that are grounded in God’s Word.”

From Seek God for the City:

At this hour we stand a crucial threshold. Now is the time to pray in step with the Father’s great passion to draw to Himself a people from every people….

As you pray with hope, you’ll find yourself drawn into the purpose God has long been pursuing in the lives of friends and neighbors…. You’ll find yourself praying with increasing anticipation.

Each page of Seek God for the City features two Scripture-based prayers focused on a particular topic, such as the reconciliation of enemies, the restoration of families, and the reinvigoration of worship in the church.

Here, for example, is a prayer for the spreading of holiness, rooted in Jesus’ encounter with a leper in Mark 1:40-41:

Lord Jesus, we believe You are just as willing to cleanse us from the pollution of sin as You were to heal people from leprosy. Many of our community, even Christians, have been deeply affected by sin. We cannot wash it away by our resolve and good intentions.

Only You can cleanse people from the sin which sickens us all. We come near to You, praying for ourselves and many others. You are indeed willing. Make us clean.

Seek God for the City includes “prayer points” to help readers intercede for particular groups of people, such as the elderly, the poor, university students, and members of the news media. The guide also features a daily focus on praying for various nations of the world.

To see how all this is laid out in the guide, view this sample page.

Seek God for the City 2009 is for use Feb. 25-April 5. Ordering details are here (copies are $3 each).

A Spanish version and a children’s version are both available free via PDF download.

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