Asked to not come back
If you are a United Methodist, you’ve probably seen this quote or heard it as a sermon illustration on persistence:
Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann’s, was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude’s, can’t go back there either.
Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George’s, kicked out again.
Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else’s, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street.
Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in
meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services.
Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway.
Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon service, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me.
A great story of persistence and of not letting people get you down on your mission to proclaim God’s love.
The problem is…it isn’t true. Or at least, the timeline is incredibly inaccurate.
Fixing the Wesley meme
The quote above isn’t anywhere in Wesley’s journals. Even if you took the dates and times and locations, it is not there. Best guess is somewhere along the way, someone took two separate entries and meshed them together
So if you want to be accurate about it, here’s my best guess at it (drawing
Sunday a.m., May 7, preached in St. Lawrence’s, was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday p.m., May 7, preached at St. Katherine Cree’s church, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
Sunday a.m., May 14, preached at St. Ann’s, can’t go back there either.
Sunday afternoon, May 21, preached at St. John’s, kicked out again.
Sunday evening, May 21, preached at St. somebody else’s, Bennet’s maybe, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
Tuesday, May 8, afternoon service, preached in a pasture in Bath, 1,000 people came to hear me.
Sunday, September 9, preached to 10,000 people three weeks in a row in Moorfields.
Friday, March 10, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services.
So instead of persistence looking like a frustrating month with a huge payoff, instead it was a frustrating month, a full year of other stuff, and then there was a small blip of 1000 people, then 10,000 people months later…then over 2 years
All told, the path from rejection to 10,000 listeners was almost 500 days, a significant chunk of your lifespan in colonial America. But Wesley did persist and he did not lose hope and he had some significant transformations between these (Aldersgate Day was right after the 1738 dates).
It’s not as great a sermon illustration as a month of persistence yielded a huge payoff. But at least it is more accurate, and more fitting to the lifetime of ministry that Wesley had, and calls us to emulate.
Fixing Wesley Quotes
Professor Kevin Watson at Candler School of Theology probably started the trend of correcting Wesley quotes online.
- Wesley Didn’t Say It: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can…
- Wesley Didn’t Say It: Set Myself on Fire… Watch Me Burn
- Wesley Didn’t Say It: Unity, Liberty, Charity
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