I am the Assistant Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. I am the author of Pursuing Social Holiness: The Band Meeting in Wesley’s Thought and Popular Methodist Practice. I have also written The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience and A Blueprint for Discipleship: Wesley’s General Rules as a Guide for Christian Living. I am also an ordained elder in the Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church.
This is my personal blog. It is broadly focused on Christian formation and discipleship from a distinctly Wesleyan perspective. More specifically, I write on small groups (particularly the Wesleyan class meeting and band meeting), Wesleyan/Methodist Christianity, the history of early Methodism, American Methodism, common misunderstandings of the Wesleyan tradition, and current events in The United Methodist Church. I also occasionally write book reviews for recent publications related to these topics.
I see myself as both an academic and a pastor who seeks to serve the church. I am trained as a church historian. I have also served in full-time local church ministry. I am passionate about both theological education and the local church. These passions are combined in my belief that many of the key insights of the first Methodists are of enduring relevance for contemporary Christianity.
My goal in writing this blog is to help contemporary Wesleyans and Methodists to understand and reclaim the best of their own heritage. I also hope to provide a place for conversation about the significance of the Wesleyan tradition for contemporary Christianity.
My goal is to publish one new post a week. However, my ability to blog is sometimes impacted by the rhythms of the academic calendar. The easiest way to make sure you don’t miss new content is to subscribe to my blog via e-mail or RSS. Or to like Vital Piety on Facebook.
As an academic and pastor, I am committed to writing for both the academy and the church.
My scholarly writing primarily focuses on the role of communal formation (especially the band meeting and the class meeting) in John Wesley’s thought and eighteenth-century popular Methodist practice. My academic publications include Pursuing Social Holiness: The Band Meeting in Wesley’s Thought and Popular Methodist Practice (Oxford University Press, 2014) as well as journal articles in Methodist History, Methodist Review, and the Wesleyan Theological Journal.
My writing for the church focuses on helping contemporary Christians reclaim the best beliefs and practices of Wesleyan Christianity. The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience (Seedbed, 2014) is a book that helps people reclaim the practice that was at the center of early Methodism. I have also written a book on the basics of Wesleyan discipleship, A Blueprint for Discipleship: Wesley’s General Rules as a Guide for Christian Living (Discipleship Resources, 2009). I co-edited and contributed to Reclaiming the Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today (Discipleship Resources, 2007). And I wrote a chapter on Wesleyan small groups in Generation Rising: A Future with Hope for The United Methodist Church (Abingdon, 2011).
Prior to joining the faculty at Candler, I taught at Seattle Pacific University from 2011-2014. I completed my PhD in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. I completed my MDiv at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. As an undergraduate student, I studied political science as an undergrad at the University of Oklahoma. Before starting my PhD, I was the pastor of Lamont United Methodist Church in Lamont, Oklahoma.
My wife, Melissa, and I have three children, who like to talk (loudly and sometimes at the same time) and move (usually running) a lot.
I enjoy bike riding and reading. Finishing a book gives me an irrational feeling of accomplishment. I am a lifelong fan of the Houston Astros. I am embarrassed to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I root for the University of Oklahoma in all sports, but most passionately when they play football.
On Blogging As an Academic
I often feel a tension in blogging as an academic. I view my blog as a place to engage a broader conversation about Wesleyan Christianity than I am able to have through academic writing. I do not consider the contents of this blog to be formal academic writing. It is, however, sometimes a place where I begin wrestling with academic questions. The writing I do here differs from my academic publications in both the audience I envision I am writing for (a much broader audience here) and the stage at which I am writing. Blogging helps me to think through ideas and develop them. I do the best that I can to present accurate information and to write clear posts that are free of grammatical mistakes. However, I view my writing here as much less polished than academic publications.
If you are interested in learning more about my work as an academic, you can download a copy of my CV by clicking here.