The Integration of Revival Methodology, Reformed Theology, and Church Revitalization in the Evangelistic Ministry of Asahel Nettleton
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SubjectNettleton, Asahel, 1783-1844.
Second Great Awakening
Current statistics for the evangelical church in North America are less than encouraging. Trends suggest that 95 percent of North American churches have about 100 people in attendance, 80 percent are on a plateau or in decline and thousands die every year. Under similar circumstances, as a central figure in the Second Great Awakening, Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844) developed a reputation as one skilled in church revitalization. The purpose of this research, as described in chapter 1, is to analyze and present Asahel Nettleton as a significant template for modern church revitalization, the primary thesis arguing that this obscure evangelist presents an effective model of renovation for the declining evangelical church. Chapter 2 offers a brief overview of the moral and church declension that gripped America prior to the Second Great Awakening, as well as providing the framework for Nettleton's unique strategy of church revitalization. Chapter 3 of this research project analyzes Asahel Nettleton's theology. The analysis of his theological convictions is examined in light of the stream of Reformed and Puritan theology that ran through Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most significant influence on Nettleton. A thorough examination of how Nettleton's theology shaped his methodology is provided in chapter 4, including his understanding of the Ministry of the Word, the use of inquiry meetings, frequent visitation, and prayer meetings to promote revival. Using Asahel Nettleton as an historical template, chapter 5 draws practical implications for today's church, in order to develop modern paradigms for church revitalization.