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Determined To Be More Vile

August 7, 2023

John Wesley’s experience of preaching outdoors (also field preaching) was not limited to preaching on his father’s grave. Wesley eventually became known for his field preaching but he was initially resistant to this way of ministry.

John Wesley’s friend, George Whitefield, was known as a great outdoor (field) preacher. Whitefield was so effective at preaching in Bristol, and the conversion of many hearers, he needed help with the work. He called on his friend John Wesley to help with the work of preaching in Bristol because he was about to embark on a trip to preach in America. Whitefiled pressed Wesley to join him and take over the work or preaching in the fields.

But Wesley was hesitant. See these words from his journal about this very matter: “I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields,' he confided in his journal, 'having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order,. that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in church.’ (Curnock, ed., Journal of John Wesley, II, 31 Mar. 1739, p. 167 ).”

Yet God guided Wesley to adopt this method of preaching that was a clear departure from this proper Anglican priest. The night before Wesley first preached in the fields he led a Bible study on The Sermon on The Mount and it “dawned” upon him that Jesus had preached outdoors. It was this “revelation” to him that caused him to be "determined to be more vile.” He was in fact more “vile” than the Anglican priests by preaching in the fields to the poor and more effective in leading people to faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.


1—Who has been an encouragement to you in your life of ministry like Whitefield was to Wesley? Why not write a note or give a call to thank them.

2—What biases might you have that need to come “under” the truth of Scripture? Could you accept that you might be unaware of bias like Wesley and be open to the Scripture to adjust such?