Any discussion of Wesleys vision of evangelism must center on the proclamation of the story of God in Christ. But for John Wesley evangelism was much more than preaching for conversion. This book offers a fresh conception of Wesleys evangelistic vision by analyzing his method of gospel proclamation. Wesley was not constrained by the truncated vision of evangelism that has been dominant since the late nineteenth century, one that all too often centers on group preaching with a sole emphasis on conversion. Rather, he stressed a number of practices that focus on a verbal proclamation of the gospel.
These practices occur in a variety of settings, only one of which is public preaching, and result in a number of responses, only one of which is conversion. Of crucial importance for current theological students, clergy, and church leaders around the world, the book demonstrates that visitation, for the purpose of spiritual direction and evangelism, was in many ways the critical leadership and pastoral practice of early British Methodism. This book offers important insights into early Methodism that inform both contemporary practices of evangelism and Christian leadership for both clergy and laity.
Jackson provides an angle of vision on Wesley and early Methodism that has not been presented in other recent works by (re)connecting evangelism with the Wesleyan goal of sanctificationof engendering holiness of heart and liferather than simply with conversion, and by expanding the range of practices related to announcement of the good news beyond (mere) proclamation. The book should function well in seminary-level evangelism courses but should also be of interest to a wider readership, as it proposes an enlarged vision of ministry for churches within the Wesleyan/Methodist family.
Rex D. Matthews, Professor in the Practice of Historical Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Managing Editor, The Methodist Review