Revival Leader Guide: Faith as Wesley Lived It


Join Adam Hamilton for a six-week journey as he travels to England, following the life of John Wesley and exploring his defining characteristics of a Wesleyan Christian. Wesley’s story is our story. It defines our faith and it challenges us to rediscover our spiritual passion.

The Leader Guide contains everything needed to guide a group through the Revival Bible study program. Includes session plans and discussion questions, as well as multiple...

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Revival Leader Guide: Faith as Wesley Lived It

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Join Adam Hamilton for a six-week journey as he travels to England, following the life of John Wesley and exploring his defining characteristics of a Wesleyan Christian. Wesley’s story is our story. It defines our faith and it challenges us to rediscover our spiritual passion.

The Leader Guide contains everything needed to guide a group through the Revival Bible study program. Includes session plans and discussion questions, as well as multiple format options.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426778834
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 321,621
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, one of the fastest growing, most highly visible churches in the country. The Church Report named Hamilton’s congregation the most influential mainline church in America, and he preached at the National Prayer Service as part of the presidential inauguration festivities in 2013. Hamilton is the best-selling and award-winning author of The Journey, The Way, 24 Hours that Changed the World, Enough, When Christians Get it Wrong, and Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, all published by Abingdon Press.
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Read an Excerpt

Revival Leader Guide

Faith as Wesley lived it

By Martha Bettis Gee

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-9388-2


Precursors to Revival


Planning the Session

Session Goals

As a result of conversations and activities connected with this session, group members should begin to:

• explore the need for revival, personally and for the church;

• examine the stresses and pressures on individuals and communities of faith that diminish spiritual vitality, and compare them to stresses and crises of the churches in Revelation;

• explore the life and faith of John Wesley by developing a spiritual timeline;

• encounter the example of Susanna Wesley as a model for shaping the faithful life;

• explore lessons learned by Wesley from his parents and grandparents about handling disagreements and perseverance;

• commit to one or more specific practices based on lessons learned by John Wesley to rekindle and revive one's faith.

Biblical Foundation

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ... "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance.... But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first." (Revelation 2:1a, 2a, 4-5a)

Special Preparation

• On the board or a large sheet of paper, print the question "How full is your cup?" Obtain a glass or a clear plastic cup; fill it with water just before the session starts.

• On a different place on the board or a different sheet of paper, print the following words down the side: Who, What, Where, When, Why.

• Tape together several large sheets of paper horizontally, for use when the group creates a spiritual timeline for John Wesley.

• Print and post the suggested faith practices from Reviving Our Faith, below. (You only need to write each boldface practice, not the entire paragraph following it.)

• Get or make copies of the hymn "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" from a hymnal or online. Several performances of the hymn can be found on YouTube, including a video by the folk rock group Mumford and Sons.

• Remember, there are more activities in this session than most groups will have time to complete. As leader, you'll want to go over the session in advance and select or adapt the activities you think will work best for your group in the time allotted.

Getting Started

Opening Activity

As participants arrive, welcome them to the study. If group members are not familiar with one another, make nametags available. Provide Bibles for those who did not bring one.

Gather together and invite group members to introduce themselves. Ask the group to say the first thing that pops into their minds when they hear the word revival. Invite volunteers to explain the word or phrase that occurred to them. Ask for a show of hands as to whether, for them, the word has positive or negative connotations. If anyone has memories of attending a revival, ask them to describe that experience. Did the revival include an altar call, and if so, did they respond? Did the revival result in long-term changes in their lives? On the board or a large sheet of paper, print the word revival, its Latin roots, and its meanings as described in the Introduction of Hamilton's book. Invite the group to respond to these meanings. How are their initial impressions of the word different from these expanded meanings?

Ask the group to quickly skim the Introduction. Invite volunteers to state what they believe to be Adam Hamilton's purpose in writing the study. Emphasize that this is not just a study of Methodism or of John Wesley's life. Hamilton's hope is, rather, to spark a revival of Christianity and Christians of any faith community by reclaiming the faith, heart, and practices of Wesley and the early Methodists.

Adam Hamilton compares our spiritual lives to plants that flourish or wilt, depending on whether we water them. Another useful comparison is of a cup that is sometimes filled and sometimes depleted. Point out the question written on the board or a large sheet of paper: "How full is your cup?" Then show the glass or cup full of water. Invite participants to visualize this cup as their soul. Ask them to reflect on the posted question. Distribute index cards and pens. Have each person print his or her name on one side of the card and then write a word or phrase on the other side describing how full his or her cup feels at the moment. Collect the cards and set them aside until the final session of this study.

Opening Prayer

Holy God, we come seeking to feel spiritually refreshed and revived. As we explore how to renew our own spiritual vitality and that of the church, make us aware of your presence among us. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Learning Together

Video Study and Discussion

Briefly introduce Adam Hamilton, the book author and video presenter. From his website, we learn that he is senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, where he preaches to more than 8,000 per week. Adam writes and teaches on life's tough questions, the doubts with which we all wrestle, and the challenging issues we face today. He is known for exploring the implications of the gospel for daily life.

Session 1 introduces John Wesley and the Christian revival he led. We start in Epworth, England, where John was brought up and learned important lessons from his family.

Before viewing the video, ask participants to visualize places that have strong spiritual significance for them. Through each video segment, they will visit places John Wesley might have called holy ground. Invite participants to look for formative influences in Wesley's early years.

After showing the video, discuss the following:

• Why did Wesley describe himself as a "brand plucked from the burning"?

• Wesley literally preached on the grave of his father. Yet he found his spiritual grounding in another strong mentor. Who was it, and what did he learn from that person?

Hamilton asks viewers if they have had experiences similar to those that gave Wesley a strong sense of purpose. Encourage participants to reflect on that question during the coming weeks.

Bible Study and Discussion

Adam Hamilton uses some selected verses from Revelation as the biblical foundation for his first chapter. Ask the group to skim the first two paragraphs of book Chapter 1 to get the context of the verses. Then invite volunteers to fill in answers about the Book of Revelation beside the words you've posted: Who, What, Where, When, Why.

Invite a volunteer to read aloud the selected verses from Revelation. Discuss the following:

• The Christians in Ephesus and the other churches of Asia Minor were experiencing a severe crisis because, as a religious minority, they were at the mercy of suspicious neighbors and state powers. What kinds of crises do we face as a church today? What crises and challenges do we face as a society?

• What day-to-day pressures are you facing? What effects do you think these pressures have on your faith?

Invite someone to read aloud Galatians 5:22-23, cited by Hamilton in relation to his own faith. Hamilton observes that in his own life as a pastor, there have been times when he experienced spiritual burnout and could sense a diminishing of the fruit of the Spirit in his own life. Discuss:

• What evidence is there in the life of our church that people may just be going through the motions of Christianity without truly expressing the fruit of the Spirit? If you believe this may be true, what factors do you think contribute to this diminished vitality?

Book Study and Discussion

Ask participants to scan the book text under the heading "Responding to the Times," then name significant events of religious conflict in the two hundred years leading up to John Wesley's birth. List these on the board or a large sheet of paper.

Invite the group to consider events, movements, or circumstances in their memories that they think have served to produce conflict in the life of the church today. After allowing some time for individual reflection, ask them to name some of these things. Ask:

• Would you say that we are in a time of religious conflict or malaise? If so, do you identify it as a time that might be a seedbed for religious revival? Why or why not?

Create a Spiritual Timeline

Explain that in this study the group will be creating a spiritual timeline of Wesley's life. It will include not only significant events but also the spiritual highs and lows related to those events. Distribute paper and pens and invite the group to scan Chapter 1 and jot down what they consider significant events in Wesley's early life. There are fewer of these to note in these early years, so participants may want to make note of events in Wesley's parents' lives as well. After allowing a few minutes for the group to work, invite them to call out events to add to the timeline, including dates, locations, and spiritual dimensions of the events. Post the horizontal sheets you taped together before class and begin to create the timeline.

Lessons about the Faithful Life

John Wesley's father Samuel served the church in Epworth for nearly forty years, and his preaching undoubtedly shaped his children, but Wesley's mother Susanna may have had the greatest impact on young John's faith. Ask participants to quickly read over the information about Susanna in the chapter. Then distribute writing paper and pens. Ask them to write an obituary for Susanna such as might have appeared in the Epworth newspaper following her death. After allowing some time for them to work, invite volunteers to read their obituaries. Then ask:

• What practices from Susanna Wesley's life may have influenced the faith life of her children?

Lessons about Dealing with Disagreements

Wesley may have learned a lot from his parents and grandparents about managing disagreements. Ask the group to read the information in the text under the heading "A Humble, Listening, Catholic Spirit." Discuss:

• What is meant by the statement that Wesley had a "catholic" spirit?

• Hamilton suggests that the twenty-first century is as polarized as eighteenth-century England. What does he suggest are ways to embrace a catholic spirit today in the midst of divisiveness? What roadblocks sometimes get in the way of the church doing so? What are your own personal roadblocks or reservations? What are your hopes?

• Hamilton observes that we have forgotten how to listen, as individuals, as a church, and as a nation. What does he identify as key elements of personal and corporate revival in our time?

Lessons about Perseverance

Point out some important and difficult circumstances faced by Wesley's family: the death of children, family debt resulting in Samuel Wesley's imprisonment, and the burning down of their home. Form three small groups or pairs and assign one of these difficulties to each. Ask the groups or pairs to discuss the following:

• What are the details of this difficult circumstance?

• How did Wesley's parents react to this obstacle in their lives?

• What did John Wesley learn from this experience and his parents' response?

• How do you respond when life hands you challenges? What resources do you draw on for help?

Reviving Our Faith

In order for us to experience a faith revival, it is important to begin specific practices toward that end. Encourage the group to consider undertaking one of the faith practices listed below during the coming week. For some, this may be the first time they have engaged in a particular practice. For others, it will be an opportunity to deepen and expand a familiar faith practice.

Call attention to the posted practices and ask the group to read them over. Give the group some of the information below about each practice. Invite suggestions from the group for other faith practices related to what they have explored in this session. Encourage group members to make a commitment to engage in one practice in the coming week.

• Pray daily for children. Suggest that group members pray for their own children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews, and also for children in the church or neighborhood. At the recent funeral of a beloved ninety-nine-year-old woman, her granddaughter told how the woman had prayed daily for all her many children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren. Further, the woman reminded them often that she was doing so. Even children who felt alienated from the church felt the power of her prayers.

• Listen to children. Suggest that if participants are parents, they might set aside time on a weekly basis to listen to their children, asking them about their faith, fears, hopes, and dreams. If participants are not parents, they might send a weekly e-mail to children in their lives touching base and letting the children know they are thinking about and praying for them.

• Listen to the voices of others. Encourage the group to open themselves to a political, religious, or cultural perspective that differs markedly from their own. Ask them to listen carefully to what is being said by the person holding those views and then, with that perspective firmly in mind, to test it against their own convictions. If a face-to face dialogue is not possible, ask group members to peruse an Internet news source they may not normally read with a perspective that differs from theirs. Suggest that they be guided in these interactions by the defining Christian characteristics of humility, grace, and love.

• Reflect on difficult circumstances. Suggest that participants reflect in daily times of devotion on difficult times in their own lives. How did they respond? Was their faith strengthened or diminished? If they are experiencing crises and stresses at present, suggest that they invite the Spirit to move in them as they persevere.

• Other. Ask the group to suggest other faith practices that come to mind after studying this chapter.

Wrapping Up

Closing Activity

Invite participants to reflect on their own families, both the family of origin and any group they now call family. How has their faith been shaped by these families? Form pairs, and ask participants to tell each other about one incident from their family life from which they learned an important faith lesson.

Sing or recite the words of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" or view a YouTube clip of the hymn together.

Encourage participants to read Chapter 2 before the next session.

Closing Prayer

O God, fount of every blessing, there are times when we are prone to wander from you and your love. We give thanks that your love is there sustaining us in times when our passion for you is diminished. Through this time together, revive our heart for your ministry. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


A Longing for Holiness Oxford

Planning the Session

Session Goals

As a result of conversations and activities connected with this session, group members should begin to:

• explore in 1 Peter 1:13-16 the dual facets of intellect and passion essential to a holy life;

• develop an understanding of what it means to live a holy life by continuing to explore John Wesley's life and faith;

• reflect on what it means to be an altogether Christian;

• create and examine metaphors for restoration;

• be introduced to and make a commitment to one or more faith practices for revival of the spiritual life.

Biblical Foundation

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Special Preparation

• On the board or a large sheet of paper, print the phrase Holier than thou.

• Augment John Wesley's spiritual timeline if needed by adding an additional sheet or sheets of paper. Make available writing paper and pens.

• Get drawing paper and colored markers for use in creating metaphors for restoration.

• Print and post the suggested practices from Reviving Our Faith.

• Get copies of the hymn "Revive Us Again" or arrange for access to video versions on YouTube.

• Remember, there are more activities in this session than most groups will have time to complete. As leader, you'll want to go over the session in advance and select or adapt the activities you think will work best for your group in the time allotted.

Getting Started

Opening Activity

Welcome participants and introduce any who are new to the study. Remind the group of the faith practices they were encouraged to try last week, and ask volunteers for observations about their experiences. Any of the suggested practices might become longterm commitments. Remind the group that these require practice, as the name indicates, and that it takes time to habituate any activity.

Invite group members to respond to the phrase Holier than thou, shown on the board or on paper. When hearing that phrase, what do they think of? Are their impressions positive or negative when someone is described that way? What are some other words or phrases that might be used to describe such a person? Tell the group that in this session, they will explore what John Wesley meant by holiness and why he longed for it.


Excerpted from Revival Leader Guide by Martha Bettis Gee. Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


To the Leader,
1. Precursors to Revival Epworth,
2. A Longing for Holiness Oxford,
3. A Crisis of Faith Georgia and Aldersgate,
4. The Necessity of Grace Bristol,
5. Works of Mercy The Foundry, London,
6. Persevering to the End City Road Chapel, London,

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