Methods employed by John Wesley for Evangelism and Disciple-making in early Methodism (Part Three)
John Wesley’s Approach to Evangelism and Spiritual Formation
John Wesley’s approach to Evangelism and spiritual formation were in various forms, as detailed below:
- Through Prayer
- Structural Discovery Principles and Instructional Aids
- Fostering Relationships with Individuals or groups in the strategies of group interaction that merge into his instructional methodology
- Discovery Groups
- Field Preaching – Outdoor religious rallies opened a vast untapped audience to his message.
- Personal Conversion
- Compact Cells (Bands) for Spiritual Formation
- Ecclesiology in ecclesia – independent renewal groups within the official framework of the larger organization.
- Fetter lane Society – for group dynamics (bringing the process of personal struggle under the umbrella of group order and providing a protective environment where that struggle could produce maximum Spiritual growth.
- Bands – provides an environment for intimate interaction and directed flow of conversation by a set of predetermined questions.
The efficacy of Wesley’s approach is still potent today, and the dynamics are used to make disciples in today’s churches.
Identifying which of Wesley’s Methods were unique to his day and which are transferable to any time and culture.
- Foundery Society –
- System of interlocking group
– Field Preaching
The spiritual formation here is fellowship, seeking the Power of godliness, prayer, receiving word of exhortation, watch over one another in love. Methods used above were lecture, preaching, public reading, hymn singing, and encouraging with an audience of fifty or more. It is still applicable today in the Celebration or Worship in Churches.
Class Meeting: Subdivision of the society
Class meetings – 10-12 persons
- An intimate group of ten or twelve people
- Weekly meetings for personal supervision of their Spiritual growth
- Tool for the alteration of behavior
- Emphasis on present and personal growth
- Mixed sexes
- Personal experience, not doctrinal ideology
It is adaptable but varies from Church to Church. Some use Church societies, Youth forums, Sunday school, Women/Mothers’ unions, Elderly, etc.
But the groups have more members than Wesley used.
- The profession of clear Christian Commitment
- Desire to grow in love, holiness, and purity of intention
- Ruthless honesty and frank openness
- Improved attitudes, emotions, feelings, intentions, and affections
- Standard bearers of the movement
- Model and exemplify Methodism
- Perfecting of human Spirit
‘Rehabilitative mode to help restore members to the mainstream of the society.’
The penitent mode was unique to his day. The other methods, from the field, preaching to societies, Class meetings, and Bands, are transferable to anytime and culture. Some churches are already using these methods. The field preaching is organized by various Task forces in the Church and serves as the fishing pool for Church. The Societies are like the ‘Come and See’ Phase. The Class Meetings are ‘Come and Follow Me’ Phase. The Bands are Be With Me phase, while the Select Society is ‘Be with Me’ and ‘Remain in Me.’ The foundery Society, Select group, and Penitent Bands were unique to Wesley’s days. The class meetings and Bands have been improved and are helpful in Churches today. They are also transferable to anytime and culture.
The field preaching has metamorphosed into revival and crusades to win Souls for Christ. More evangelical outreach is now employed, like the Prisons Ministry and Hospital Ministry. In addition to the Bands are Home fellowship units and Adult Bible classes.
Wesley’s Methods that one may employ in Ministry
In the Ministry, there are four phases of ‘Come and See,’ ‘Follow Me, ‘Be With Me,’ and ‘Remain in Me’ that are most expedient and very useful in training people for discipleship. Jesus gave us the command to make disciples of all nations. The Wesley methods could be used in discipleship training to bring all members to Spiritual maturity. The rules and spiritual hunger of Wesley’s bands and the curriculum could be adapted.
One could start with a model group and use a curriculum aligned with the phased approach. The training lessons could include the following:
- Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19-20)
- Doctrine and belief of the Church
- Character, Vision, and Values employed by Wesley and modified by the Church.
- Small group training and dynamics
- Adult Bible classes
- Home Fellowship
- Business fellowship
As it was in John Wesley’s Days, so it is now. There is nothing new under the sun. Christians and the Church Must Fulfil ‘The Great Commission’ & ‘The Great Commandment.’