Five Means of Grace

Experience God's Love the Wesleyan Way

Book - Hardback
Five Means of Grace
Hardback ISBN: 9781501835643
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E-Book ISBN: 9781501835650
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Published September 2017

Wesley showed us ways to reorder our lives through the “means of grace.”

John Wesley gave the Methodist movement (and all Christians in general) a discipleship pathway to follow. Wesley began with Three Simple Rules (or “General Rules”), and followed this instruction a year later with the Five Marks of a Methodist (or “Character of a Methodist”). Wesley observed the need for continuous renewal of relationships with God and others, so he established a recurring annual process for God’s people to make One Faithful Promise: The Wesleyan Covenant for Renewal. The study by Heath turns to the practices at the center of Wesley’s understanding of spiritual growth: the means of grace.

This book/study guides readers through the five means of grace that John Wesley called “instituted,” meaning these are spiritual practices in which Jesus himself participated and which he encouraged his followers to do. One of the beautiful aspects of Wesley’s theology is that spiritual practices are seamlessly integrated with practices of loving our neighbors well. This is why Wesley said there is no holiness but social holiness. A life of genuine prayer inevitably leads to a life of hospitality, mercy, and justice.

Through this book/study participants will consider how each of the five means of grace help us as communities of faith to pray more deeply and live more missionally as followers of Jesus Christ. These means are the ordinary channels that God uses to draw us into a fruitful relationship. These five means or channels are:

1. Prayer
2. Searching Scripture
3. Receiving the Lord’s Supper
4. Fasting
5. Conferencing (communion, fellowship)

"Surely John Wesley wanted his teachings to be presented in clear and understandable ways.  Elaine Heath’s teaching on the Five Means of Grace are simple and engaging with deep truths.  Your group will love it!" - Jennifer Cowart (Executive pastor at Harvest Church, a United Methodist congregation in Warner Robins, GA, near Macon. She co-preaches and directs Discipleship and Emerging Ministries at Harvest UMC.)

"Elaine Heath is one of the church’s great teachers and prophets. With engaging stories and clear understanding of Scripture she invites us to experience God’s love through ancient practices that we desperately need.  I will be using Five Means of Grace with my congregation as an invitation for those seeking a deeper pathway into discipleship." - Rev. Jacob Armstrong, Providence United Methodist Church, Mount Juliet TN.

"Methodists are followers of Jesus who are guided by a “rule of life”, a set of common spiritual practices that put us in a place where we are more likely to experience God’s transforming grace.  This brief volume is deceptively filled with guidance for those who would allow the Holy Spirit to guide them.  I am grateful to Elaine Heath, who continues to lead us again to the ordinary channels where the streams of mercy, justice and righteousness flow.” - Ken Carter, Resident Bishop, Florida Area, The United Methodist Church and co-author, Fresh Expressions:  A New Kind of Methodist Church for People Not in Church


About the Author

Elaine A. Heath

Elaine A. Heath is visiting Professor of Evangelism, Nazarene Theological Seminary. Her scholarly work is interdisciplinary, integrating pastoral, biblical, and spiritual theology in ways that bridge the gap between academy, church, and world. Her current research interests focus on community as a means of healing trauma, emergent forms of Christianity, and alternative forms of theological education for the church in rapidly changing contexts.

Heath is the author of numerous books and articles, the most recent of which is Healing the Wounds of Sexual Abuse: Reading the Bible with Survivors (2019), a republication with updates of a previous volume: We Were the Least of These: Reading the Bible with Survivors of Sexual Abuse (2011). Her other publications include Five Means of Grace: Experience God's Love the Wesleyan Way (2017), The Mystic Way of Evangelism, Revised and Updated 2nd Edition (2017), God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church (2016), Missional.Monastic.Mainline (co-authored with Larry Duggins, 2014), Longing for Spring: A New Vision for Wesleyan Communities (co-authored with Scott Kisker, 2010), and Naked Faith: The Mystical Theology of Phoebe Palmer (2009).

Heath's vocational journey includes having served as Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University, and the McCreless Professor of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. She is a pioneer in new forms of theological education. In that capacity Heath is co-founder of the Missional Wisdom Foundation, a non-profit educational organization that equips clergy and laity to develop diverse forms of Christian community and social enterprise. Most recently she co-founded Neighborhood Seminary, a contextualized model of missional theological education for laity. Heath is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and served in pastoral ministry prior to her academic ministry. She lives with her husband at Spring Forest, an intentional Christian Community and farm in rural North Carolina where she serves as Abbess.