Impact for Generations – How George Whitefield influenced the worldMay 10, 2021
by Curtis Burkholder
Have you ever considered how your life may impact future generations? Does your heart burn with a passion for a cause? Today, I want to briefly share the story of one individual who impacted many generations.
Recently the team at Bare Wealth Advisors read Gospel Patrons and discussed it weekly. Gospel Patrons is a book about generous people who funded the work and ministries of other people in history. This book specifically highlights the story of three individuals and their financial supporters. The book tells the stories of the impact they had in their world at the time and how many continue to impact us today. One of these stories is the story of George Whitefield (1714-1770).
You may have heard of Whitfield before as many people know him as one of the founders of Methodism as well as a preacher during the Great Awakening, but some parts of his story are not as well known. Whitefield had a financial backer known as Lady Huntingdon who helped to fund his ministry. Lady Huntingdon became widow at the age of thirty-nine and used her financial resources for eternal purposes.
Whitefield had a preaching style that was unique and uncommon for his time. He was known for speaking of spiritual things as being real. In stark contrast to sermons of the day that were often read and were dry, Whitefield’s sermons were passionate, biblical, and joyful. Often Whitefield would preach twice a day seven days a week. He also tried something that had not been tried in England at the time, preaching outside.
Amid drawing large crowds to hear him speak on both sides of the Atlantic, Whitefield also faced opposition. He regularly had rocks, dirt, and even eggs thrown at him. He was almost stoned to death in Ireland, two people attempted to murder him while he slept, and others tried to distract him and his listeners. But despite the opposition, he continued preaching.
By the time of his death at age fifty-five, he had preached at least 18,000 sermons averaging over ten per week-more than 500 sermons a year for thirty-four consecutive years. In his will, he left everything to Lady Huntington who had supported his ministry.
Through Lady Huntingdon’s support and Whitefield’s tireless preaching, they influenced many in both England and America. It is estimated that over 80% of those living in the American colonies at the time heard Whitefield preach. This provided a common theological framework that influenced the nation for many generations. Between both England and America, it is estimated that over ten million people heard his sermons.
As we reflect on the life of Whitefield and what he accomplished, it is amazing to consider what he did without our modern transportation or sound projection systems. Considering this, I encourage you to reflect on everything that we have, and to think about your talents, time, and the resources God has given you. How may God want to use you to impact not only this generation but future generations. It may not be an easy road, but through perseverance may you accomplish the dreams and desires God has placed within your heart.