Teaching Students About John Wesley
John Wesley, an 18th-century theologian, evangelist, and founder of the Methodist movement, played a significant role in shaping Christianity as we know it today. To educate students about his life, work, and impact on the development of the religious landscape, teachers must first understand the profound contributions he made and why they are still crucial today. This article will serve as a comprehensive guide in teaching students about John Wesley.
1. Early Life and Education
Begin by discussing John Wesley’s early life and education to provide a foundation for understanding his later contributions. Born in 1703 in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, Wesley was one of 19 children born to Anglican clergyman Samuel Wesley and his wife Susanna. Despite the family’s religious background, John initially had ambitions beyond the church. He attended Christ Church College at Oxford University from 1720 to 1724 and was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church in 1725.
2. The Holy Club
At Oxford, John and his brother Charles formed a group called “The Holy Club,” consisting of like-minded Christians who began studying the Bible earnestly and committed to leading disciplined lives rooted in prayer, fasting, and charity. Although initially met with hostility from surrounding society, The Holy Club played an important role in shaping Wesley’s beliefs regarding charity and evangelism.
3. The Methodical Approach
One of the key things that set John Wesley apart within Christian circles is his methodical approach to living out one’s faith. This approach emphasized personal Bible study, frequent prayer, self-examination, fasting, attending regular worship services and assisting those less fortunate economically or socially; they are known as practical works of piety. These foundational principles would later become part of Methodist theology – which is why it is essential to teach students about them when explaining Wesley’s significance.
4. The Moravian Encounter
In 1735, Wesley set sail to Georgia as a missionary but had an unsatisfactory experience, which led him to question his faith. Meanwhile, he encountered the Moravians, a Christian denomination whose emphasis on inner peace and assurance of faith fascinated him. Wesley’s encounter with Moravianism significantly impacted his religious beliefs and helped mold his understanding of genuine Christian faith.
5. The Aldersgate Experience
On May 24, 1738, John Wesley had a life-transforming religious experience at a Moravian meeting in Aldersgate Street, London. He described feeling his “heart strangely warmed” and finally experienced the assurance of salvation he had long sought after. This event marked the beginning of Wesley’s evangelical ministry and led to the formation of the Methodist movement.
6. The Spread of Methodism
As Wesley became increasingly convinced of his evangelical mission, he began preaching and teaching around Britain, attracting large crowds wherever he went. His teachings laid the groundwork for Methodism as we know it today – including an emphasis on personal holiness, social service, and a comprehensive view of salvation. Remember to emphasize Wesley’s impact on both England’s religious landscape and how it continues to shape contemporary Christianity.
Teaching students about John Wesley is crucial in understanding the history of Christianity and modern religious movements. By incorporating his early life experiences, education, contributions to theology, and impact on Methodism into your curriculum, you can help students grasp the significance of this historical figure and broaden their knowledge on related subjects within the realm of Christianity.