NACOS 0.1 PREFACE: “Our pre-class discussion will happen on Facebook …”

NACOS 0.1 PREFACE: “Our pre-class discussion will happen on Facebook …”
Congregational Care 323 – Native American Course of Study
Director: Rev. Dr. Michelle Oberwise Lacock

Navigating these posts:
In the top and bottom right hand corners of each post you will see links to move to the next post in the sequence. (WordPress blog posts are in reverse order – the last one is on top and the first one is at the bottom.)
Each is numbered in order.
Click on these links to begin reading in order in each section:

Preface – Getting Organized (This post – 1 of 4)
NACOS 0.1 PREFACE: “Our pre-class discussion will happen on Facebook …”
https://ambidextrouschurch.com/2020/12/01/nacos/

Understanding personal and congregational loss. (1 of 3)
NACOS 1.1 Understanding personal loss.
https://ambidextrouschurch.com/2020/12/01/nacos-1-1-1-1-understanding-personal-loss/

William Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning (1 of 5)
NACOS 2.1: Worden’s first task, which is to “Accept the Reality of the Loss.”
https://ambidextrouschurch.com/2020/12/01/nacos-2-1/

NACOS 3.1: Peter Senge’s Limits to Growth systems archetype (1 of 1)
https://ambidextrouschurch.com/2020/12/01/nacos-3-1-senges-limits-to-growth-systems-archetype-2/

The Diffusion of Innovations Adopter Framework. (1 of 8)
NACOS 4.1: A Parable: The Stainless Steel Church
https://ambidextrouschurch.com/2020/12/01/nacos-4-1-a-parable-the-stainless-steel-church/

Instructor for the 12/13 Session – Contact information:
David O Kueker (pronounced “key-ker”)
dkueker@yahoo.com
Cell: 618-780-0151 (phone or text)
Facebook: David Oliver Kueker

Prior to our discussion on December 13, I wanted to be able to introduce the concepts for our discussion and give you an experiential opportunity to work with them in the week prior to our Zoom meeting. We’ll have that “discussion before the class discussion” on our class Facebook page.

Where does this material originate?
My Fuller Theological Seminary 2008 Doctor of Ministry project sought to bring an understanding of 3rd world “lay driven” cell church methods of evangelism and disciple making to small Midwestern United Methodist congregations of 100 or less in average attendance. This material is drawn from the chapter written to address congregational resistance to these new methods. The entire project is available to you to read after our class concludes, but it isn’t necessary for our class time at all.

Our pre-class discussion will happen on Facebook as you provide a brief response to the “quote” and information in the post and then applying that information to your ministry context. (If you do not work with a local church congregation at this time, you may answer the question by relating it to your current ministry context or to any local congregation with whom you are familiar, past or present.)

The purpose here will be to recognize the mental model at work in your congregation and reflect on how you would respond. Evaluation will be based on the level of understanding you reveal in your “Assignment Question” comment.

A Facebook comment allows you to edit or add information to your comment at any time.
(On a PC, look for three dots: … Click there and select “edit” to edit your comment.)
You can also reply to the comments of others.
If you have a question to ask me, please begin your comment with “QUESTION:” and I will respond. It’s OK to chase rabbits here!

Cultural Apologies: My awareness of Native American culture comes from several friendships with Native Americans. I want to confess and provide an apology in advance for any misunderstanding on my part which would bring an offense to any of you due to my ignorance of your culture. Please help me to learn from any mistakes.

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I’LL STAY WITH YOU July 1996 by Dave Kueker

I’LL STAY WITH YOU July 1996 by Dave Kueker
A Song for Weddings – (tune for verses: Abide with Me)

Walk down the aisle, and you will find me there.
Whenever you smile My heart’s as light as air.
With all the world’s sad sorrow, it doesn’t seem quite fair
That today, and every tomorrow,
We will always care.

As the preacher asks the question, I hear you say “I will”
Two little words that give me such a thrill.
They bring a warmth into life’s cold lonely chill.
I love you today,
Just as I always will.

Chorus
I’ll love you still — “I will!”
No matter what the years bring.
I’ll stay with you — “I do!”
My heart will always sing.
Through the laughter and tears,
Our love will last for years…
I’ll love you still.

Then comes the ring, and the words “I thee wed”
I swear by my life I will love you till I’m dead.
And then by the mercy of a God who’s always fair,
If I live in heaven, I will love you there.

Chorus

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Unit 7.12 The camp meeting shaped prairie Methodism.

QUOTE

Methodism has continually adopted new methods as expediency provides them. The camp meeting shaped prairie Methodism. Asbury called camp meetings Afishing with a large net.@[1] It is hard to imagine in this century the human hunger for socialization and activity which the camp meeting fulfilled in the prairie environment. When Alexis De Tocqueville asked a Detroit man in 1831 if religion had reached that Ahalf peopled@ area, he replied:

Almost every summer, it is true, some Methodist preachers come to make a tour of the new settlements. The noise of their arrival spreads with unbelievable rapidity from cabin to cabin – it’s the great news of the day. At the date set, the immigrant, his wife, and children set out by scarcely cleared forest trails toward the indicated meeting place. They come from fifty miles around. It’s not in a church that the faithful gather but in the open air under the forest foliage. A pulpit of badly squared logs, great trees felled for seats, such are the ornaments of this rustic temple. The pioneers and their families camp in the surrounding woods. It=s there that, during three days and three nights, the crowd gives itself over to almost uninterrupted religious exercises. You must see with what ardor these men surrender themselves to prayer, with what attention they listen to the solemn voice of the preacher. It’s in the wilderness that people show themselves almost starved for religion.[2]

The camp meetings countered rural isolation by combining religious activity in the center of the camp with socializing, courting, barter and recreation on the outer edges.[3] This tradition of combining evangelistic preaching with family vacations evolved into the Chautauqua movement, both in resort settings and traveling tents.[4] Camp meetings eventually became campgrounds and then conference owned church camps, at Asbury’s suggestion.[5] The camp meeting was the primary evangelistic tool of the Second Great Awakening in United States history and so successful that it doubled the proportion of church members in America from one in fifteen to one in seven between 1800 and 1850.[6]

The camp meeting is the quintessential Acome structure@ of American religious history. Both the camp meeting and the prairie church met the human need for socialization in the midst of rural isolation. Both drew a large crowd because they were the only source for human interaction on the frontier. Revivals would later be organized around the visit of an elder at quarterly conference who would provide the sacrament to members followed by camp meetings open to the public. These events created a community that Adefined itself by act@ or by an event, rather than by an address.[7]

Events brought people together; God acting in grace seemed less a salvation process and more of a salvation event. It was God, acting in a series of events, who convicted the sinner, brought the crowds of sinners to the camp meeting, brought salvation through the response to an evangelistic sermon and brought sanctification as a second work of grace. Any human role was minimized. The salvation event, mediated by a gospel preacher, is the descendent of the sacramental event mediated by a priest ordained in apostolic succession. Anglican sacramentalism, too, is a part of the Wesleyan heritage.[8] Prairie DNA continues to focus on events as the method to bring people into the church building to hear the gospel.

On the prairie the process of salvation became one which sought to get people into a service of worship where they might respond to the proclamation of the gospel by the preacher rather than one which sought to get people into a class meeting where they might be spiritually mentored by a lay person. All barriers were dropped and all activities of the church were opened; who could tell but that this day was a sinner=s last opportunity to experience salvation? Evangelism became focused on decision-making events rather than on disciple-making community.[9] Revival services became crowds of strangers before, during and after time in worship. New class meetings would not be formed to disciple the new converts; a few would become incorporated into a single existing class meeting already crowded with advanced disciples. Rather than training new disciples to become disciple-makers, classes focused on personal piety and holiness.

The camp meeting event forever shaped the prairie Methodist experience. The great Atwo a day@ checkerboard church planting that began after the Civil War replicated these small Acome structure@ churches every five to seven miles apart in the rural countryside.[1] Prairie DNA was phenomenally successful in its time; from 1860-1920 the Methodist Episcopal Church grew from one million to well over four million members,[2] far outperforming Wesley=s societies. This membership increase coincides with the end of the requirement that all Methodists participate in class meeting as a condition of membership.[3] After vigorous employment in the 1870s, Aafter 1880 there is no mention of camp meetings being encouraged officially by the Southern Illinois conference.@[4] This expedient tool shaped the prairie Methodist experience and that historical influence is active and visible today.


[1]Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 148. Southern Baptists averaged four hundred missions a year in the 1890s and thirteen hundred in the 1990s, a daily average of 3.6 a day. Lyle Schaller, The Interventionist (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997), 195-196.

[2]Charles Yrigoyen, Jr., APart Two: The Nineteenth Century,@ in John G. McEllhenney, ed., United Methodism In America: A Compact History (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992), 91.

[3]White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 6. The requirement was ended in the Methodist Episcopal South in 1866 and the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872.

[4]Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 145. The holiness movement was well received in Southern Illinois but suspect within the Methodist Episcopal denomination. While the conference remained officially distanced, participation continued unofficially; six Holiness Camp Meeting Associations were founded in the first half of the twentieth century in Southern Illinois, with Methodists providing the major support in five of them. Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 153-155, 171-172. Cf. Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil, 280-285.



[1]Russell E. Richey, AFrom Quarterly to Camp Meeting: A Reconsideration of Early American Methodism,@ Methodist History 23, no. 1 (July 1985): 202.

[2]G. W. Pierson, ATocqueville and Beaumont in America,@ quoted in Johnson, Frontier Camp Meeting, 231‑232.

[3]Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil, 119-120, 124, 129-131. Cf. Johnson, Frontier Camp Meeting, 3, 208-228, 234-236, 240, 243-244. Cf. Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 24-25. Cf. Melton, From Log Cabins to Steeples, 115.

[4]Charles A. Parker, AThe Camp Meeting on the Frontier and the Methodist

Religious Resort in the East: Before 1900,@ Methodist History 18 (April 1980): 179‑192. For an example, see The Lakeside Association, History of Lakeside, http://www.lakesideohio.com/lakesideexperience/History.aspx (accessed June 18, 2007). Cf. Johnson, Frontier Camp Meeting, 245-247. Cf. Melton, Log Cabins to Steeples, 119.

[5]Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil, 145.

[6]Jeffrey K. Hadden and Anson Shupe, Televangelism: Power & Politics On God’s Frontier (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison‑Wesley, 1981), http://religiousbroadcasting.lib.virginia.edu/ powerpolitics/C6.html (accessed May 1, 2007), 102. Cf. Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (New York: Random House, 2006), 206-210.

[7]Russell E. Richey, AFrom Quarterly to Camp Meeting: A Reconsideration of Early American Methodism,@ Methodist History 23, no. 1 (July 1985): 205, 203-213.

[8]From a sacramental point of view, salvation occurs at the event of Christian baptism and the event of holy communion confers spiritual strength and maturity as a means of grace. There is a trend among modern churches to embrace the sacramental faith of justification through baptism and sanctification by good works. Wesley supports sacramentalism but declares it insufficient in section four of John Wesley=s sermon, AThe New Birth,@ Works of John Wesley, 6:75-76. Cf. Ted A. Campbell, AConversion and Baptism in Wesleyan Spirituality@ in Kenneth J. Collins and John H. Tyson, eds., Conversion in the Wesleyan Tradition (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001), 160-174. Whether evangelical or liturgical, this approach relies on the paradigm of a salvation event which occurs during worship rather than in ongoing relationships of community participation. One modern form of seeking a salvation event through worship is someone “serving Christ” by watching worship broadcast on television.

[9]Win Arn and Charles Arn, The Master=s Plan for Making Disciples (Pasadena, CA: Church Growth Press, 1982), 9.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

Posted in z_Major League Disciple Making | Leave a comment

Unit 7.11 Asbury … deliberately chose to plant churches in isolated rural settings

QUOTE

 It is an gross oversimplification, however, to say that Methodism on the American frontier went Awhere the people were.@[1] Early Methodism, according to Lovett Weems, Aseemed more at home in rural settings@ and was more successful there.[2] Asbury developed Aa distinct rural orientation adept at expanding into thinly populated areas.@[3] Asbury and his contemporaries deliberately chose to plant churches in isolated rural settings, avoiding even the developing towns as Aalien to Methodist values and >famous for wickedness.=@[4] Eighteen of twenty Methodist chapels in the Delmarva peninsula of Delaware in 1784 were in the countryside.[5] The Western Christian Advocate in 1843 notes that in the Midwest, Athe towns were almost universally avoided by our preachers as places of too much dissipation for the Gospel to obtain a foothold.@[6] Asbury did not go where the people were or would be; Asbury went where there was no competition to holiness from outside influences.[7]


[1]Weems, Leadership In The Wesleyan Spirit, 21-22.

[2]Ibid., 23.

[3]Nathan Hatch, quoted by Weems, Leadership In The Wesleyan Spirit, 22.

[4]Weems, Leadership In The Wesleyan Spirit, 24.

[5]Ibid. For a broader description, cf. William H. Williams, AThe Attraction of Methodism: The Delmarva Peninsula as a Case Study, 1769-1820″ in Russell E. Richey, Kenneth E. Rowe, and Jean Miller Schmidt, eds., Perspectives On American Methodism: Interpretive Essays (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), 31-45.

[6]Weems, Leadership In The Wesleyan Spirit, 24.

[7]Roger W. Stump, ARegional Migration and Religious Commitment in the United States,@ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 23, no. 3 (September 1984): 292-304. Stump=s experimental results favor the Aadaptation model’s prediction that religious commitment rises among migrants to regions of higher native commitment, such as the South, and fails among migrants to regions of lower commitment.@ Asbury=s placement of churches in isolated settings, therefore, creates a high expectation environment which will have a higher evangelistic influence on those living nearby; placing churches in town would give the majority of Asinners@ a greater influence over a minority of Methodists. Asbury did not need to locate churches in towns to draw a crowd, be visible or have an influence due to the camp meeting=s ability to draw a crowd during the nineteenth century.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

Posted in z_Major League Disciple Making | Leave a comment

Unit 7.10 Prairie DNA: a vast migration of people from urban to rural areas.

QUOTE

Francis Asbury preached the gospel on the empty prairies during a vast migration of people from urban to rural areas. Prairie Methodists simultaneously built churches and communities in the rural wilderness. They faithfully replicated Epworth and Wroot[1] across the Midwestern frontier, replacing passive Anglican curates with fiery Methodist circuit riding preachers. Churches began as class meetings, shepherded between visits of the circuit rider by located preachers or licensed exhorters as class leaders.[2] The terminology on the prairie is one of circuits made up of class meetings rather than Societies of the British type. There is no evidence of multiple classes being formed on the prairie in a single location as was normal in Wesley=s urban societies.[3] Class sizes increased to as many as seventy-three.[4] There is no evidence that anything like the band system developed on the prairie; the band concept was strenuously pushed in the first Book of Discipline of 1785 but all references had disappeared from the Discipline by 1844.[5] Class meetings and tickets were the major elements of Wesleyan Methodism found on the prairie.

Prairie class meetings became prairie churches, based on a single cell; this is a classic limitation to church growth as classes grew larger and became small churches.[6] The role of the class meeting to enforce church discipline seemed to disappear in America by the mid-nineteenth century.[7] Both Watson and White note that the tone of writings on class meetings in the nineteenth century in America becomes increasingly apologetic and persuasive, concluding that the once natural popularity of the class meeting must be waning.[8] Class meetings flourished in early days between visits of the circuit riders ranging from once a month to six months.[9] As Methodists formed churches, the old timers in the class meeting experienced power struggles with the shift to resident clergy.[10] The non-denominational Sunday School movement also put pressure on the Methodist class system as early as 1830[11] and is widely seen as displacing the class meeting after 1875.[12] Participation in the class meeting as a requirement of membership was discontinued in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872.[13]


[1]Epworth and Wroot were the small rural parishes in which Wesley grew up, and of a type very familiar to Asbury and all immigrants from England.

[2]One suspects the presence of exhorters and located preachers led to class meetings that were more like worship services between visits of the circuit rider than the careful lay supervision toward holiness found in Wesley=s classes in England. Cf. Charles A. Johnson, The Frontier Camp Meeting: Religion’s Harvest Time (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1955), 20-24. Ferguson indicates this erosion of small group process as coinciding with rise of the camp meeting in 1805 and 1840. Cf. Charles W. Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil: Methodists and the Making of America (New York: Doubleday, 1971), 149.

[3]Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 14. Melton recognizes the pattern of single classes becoming single churches but refers to Asome societies with several classes@ in the 1840s without identifying locations; these could have been in urban Chicago. I have found no single specific citing of a downstate Illinois Methodist church with more than one class meeting and no record of the use of bands or select bands on the prairie. Cf. J. Gordon Melton, Log Cabins to Steeples: the Complete Story of the United Methodist Way in Illinois Including All Constituent Elements of the United Methodist Church (n.p.: The Commissions on Archives and History, Northern, Central and Southern Illinois Conferences, 1974), 109, 111.

[4]Charles Edward White, AThe Rise And Decline Of The Class Meeting,@ Methodist History 40, no. 4 (July 2002), http://myweb.arbor.edu/cwhite/cm.pdf (accessed June 4, 2007), 7. Pagination is from the online resource.

[5]Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil, 75.

[6]For information on single cell churches and church growth resistance, see Carl Dudley, Making the Small Church Effective (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1978), 32-60.

[7]White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 4n29. Cf. David Lowes Watson, Class Leaders: Recovering A Tradition (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1991), 50-51.

[8]AWesley=s problem seems to be keeping the classes pure, while his successors= problem seems to be keeping the classes going.@ White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 5. Cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 44.

[9]The 1872 Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church indicates a second purpose in the Adesign of the organization of classes@ is to Aestablish and keep up a meeting for social and religious worship, for instruction, encouragement and admonition that shall be a profitable means of grace to our people.@ This is a purpose far wider than Wesley=s class meeting and probably reflects actual practice. Cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 48. Cf. Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 14.

[10]Watson, Class Leaders, 48-50, 152.

[11]Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 85, 88, 119, 121, 144. The growing emphasis on Sunday School diverts leaders and energy from class meetings. Cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 51-52. Watson, Early Methodist Class Meeting, 137, notes that references to the class meeting decline abruptly in British Methodist autobiographies in the 1830s. Yet White notes that there is some evidence of a 40% continued participation in the class meeting in 1900. Cf. White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 5n35.

[12]Watson, Class Leaders, 75.

[13]White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 6. The same change occurred in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1866 and in Britain in 1912. For an excellent description of the causes of the decline, cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 39-59.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

Posted in z_Major League Disciple Making | Leave a comment

Unit 7.9 Wesley DNA: a vast migration of people from rural to urban areas

QUOTE

Unit 7: Methodist Historical DNA and Modern Cell Churches: Is There A Match?

Lecture: Prairie DNA

The historical process by which John Wesley=s discipleship system adapted to the frontier in the United States is described in the excerpt below from Chapter One: Systemic Problems from the Resource page at www.disciplewalk.com.

Third Systemic Problem: Traditional APrairie@ DNA

Rapidly growing cell churches credit their success to John Wesley=s use of class meetings in England. The churches of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference are also hereditary descendants of Wesley=s societies with very different characteristics. Expediency, a basic principle in Wesleyan DNA, led to a different adaptation to the prairie environment which is now highly resistant to change. Cultural DNA is information which defines norms and homeostasis.
John Wesley was a complex man living in complex times. The Industrial Revolution brought a vast migration of people from rural to urban areas. The Methodist Societies became a spiritual village within the city for many dislocated people.[1] Wesley blended methods from Anglican religious societies and Moravian sources to create an evolving discipleship system that came to embrace laity in ministry first as small group leaders and then as lay preachers.[2] Wesley=s discipleship system trained people in holiness and spiritual maturity where they lived. Salvation was a process first of prevenient grace, then justifying grace and finally sanctifying grace. Methodists remained fully engaged with people at each successive stage of grace and helped one another to move onward toward perfection.[3] Wesley=s primary goal was to change the behavior of individual people toward holiness; the class meeting was an expedient innovation that began as a tool to raise funds but soon became Wesley=s tool for individual supervision in holiness.[4] They used tickets with expiration dates to control who remained within the Society.[5] Class meetings provided a living human network for the direct spiritual supervision of each person each week.

Wesley kept his people busy.[1] This kept them visible in a busy, urban world.[2]

 Methodists also attended the local Anglican parish church for worship and the sacraments. All of this activity made the Methodists very visible to their neighbors. The value of holiness was obvious due to the immediate improvement in quality of life. The goal of the movement was to Aspread scriptural holiness across the land.@[3]

The Wesleyan discipleship system was always more focused on holiness than evangelism; while field preaching drew large crowds, Wesley=s Societies statistically Aconstituted only a fraction of one percent of the populace@ in any given year.[4] The crowds did not enter the societies; they are not an example of rapid evangelistic church growth similar to the church of Acts or modern cell churches. Wesley=s emphasis on disciplined behavior, however, made them an influential fraction compared to the passivity of the typical Anglican clergyman. Wesley=s societies had high expectations of laity and low expectations of clergy.


[1]Wesley provided his followers with a wide variety of activities in addition to the class meeting so that Methodists always had something holy to do instead of yield to temptation. These activities included twice daily sermons preached at five a.m. on the road to work and in the evening, a variety of small groups called “bands” to practice more intense spiritual discipline, monthly half‑night prayer meetings, visitation of the sick and a variety of other community ministries. The complex Wesleyan discipleship system evolved to fulfill what was lacking in the typical Anglican parish, thereby supplementing rather than separating people from the church. One must wonder what would have evolved if Wesley, like Asbury, had been a bishop able to appoint ministers to his liking to parishes under his control. When Methodism was freed of the tension of remaining in the Anglican church and became a church itself, it dropped in time most of what characterized Methodism as Methodism under Wesley. Cf. Wesley, Plain Account, 251-252, 255, 257-261.

[2]Wesley’s movement used a variety of methods, from the five a.m. preaching to social service, to keep Methodism in the forefront of awareness in urban environments filled with competing recreational distractions, temptations and competing churches. They created a “go” organization which penetrated their communities and drew people into beneficial relationships.

[3]Hattersley, Life of John Wesley, 207. Cf. Weems, Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit, 128.

[4]David Lowes Watson, The Early Methodist Class Meeting (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1992), 131. Wesley=s pattern by itself will not reverse the current membership decline.



[1]A question for historical investigation would be whether there are significant differences between Wesley=s practice of Methodism in urban and rural areas. It is possible that I term APrairie DNA@ began in rural England where the stimulus of a smaller rural population brought forth these patterns. If so, then Asbury would only be practicing the form of Methodism with which he was familiar.

[2]Steven W. Manskar, Small Groups and Accountability: The Wesleyan Way of Christian Formation, http://www.gbod.org/smallgroup/Manskar_Accountability.pdf (accessed June 18, 2007). Cf. David Hunsicker, AJohn Wesley: Father of Today=s Small Group Concept?@ Wesleyan Theological Journal 31, no. 1 (Spring 1996), under http://wesley.nnu.edu/wesleyan_theology/theojrnl/ 31‑35/31‑1‑09.htm (accessed May 1, 2007).

[3]Hunter identifies four stages in Wesley=s process compared to nine for Willow Creek. George G. Hunter, III, Church for the Unchurched (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 154-156.

[4]John Wesley, AA Plain Account of the People Called Methodists,@ The Works of John Wesley, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 8:252-255. There was a problem in Bristol with raising funds for the debt on the New Room. Captain Foy proposed that the Bristol society be subdivided and that each member give one penny. He asked to be assigned eleven of the poorest individuals whom he would visit each week; he would pay the penny for any unable to make a contribution. Each week class leaders met each person in their class, reviewed the behavior and spiritual condition of each individual, reported that condition to the stewards, and turned in an offering from each person. Eventually the decision was made for the class to meet as a group so that those who would seek to deceive the leader about their behavior could be immediately be confronted with the truth by their neighbors. The class meeting was never educational in purpose or focused on bible study, but always on the modification of behavior toward holiness. Roy Hattersley, The Life of John Wesley: A Brand from the Burning (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 200-201. Unlike the cells of a modern cell church, class meetings did not select their own members, select their own leaders, develop apprentice leaders or multiply into two class meetings.

[5]Wesley, Plain Account, 256, 259-260. Wesley created boundaries so that people sorted themselves into groups at the level best suited for them; certain behaviors were required to get a ticket that would allow a person to participate in different activities of the Society. Requirements of obedience made certain that no strangers were present. Participation in a penitent band on Saturday nights cleared the way for return.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

Posted in z_Major League Disciple Making | Leave a comment

Unit 7.8 WESLEY’S TWELVE RULES OF A HELPER

QUOTE

WESLEY’S TWELVE RULES OF A HELPER

1. Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time, nor spend more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

2. Be serious. Let your motto be, “Holiness to the Lord.” Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.

3. Converse sparingly and cautiously with women, particularly with young women.

4. Take no step towards marriage without solemn prayer to God, and consulting with your Brethren.

5. Believe evil of no one unless fully proved; take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction you can on everything. You know the Judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.

6. Speak evil of no one; else your word, especially, would eat as doth a canker. Keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.

7. Tell every one what you think wrong in him, lovingly and plainly; and as soon as may be, else

it will fester in your own heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.

8. Do not affect the gentleman. A Preacher of the Gospel is the servant of all.

9. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; no, not of cleaning your own shoes, when necessary.

10. Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our Rules, but keep them; and that for conscience’s sake.

11. You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want[1] you most.

12. Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a Son of the Gospel, and in union with your Brethren.

As such, is your part to employ your time as our Rules direct: partly in preaching, and visiting from house to house; partly in reading, meditation, and prayer. Above all, if you labour with us in our Lord’s vineyard, it is needful that you should do that part of the work which the Conference shall advise, at those times and places which they shall judge most for His glory.

Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care merely of this or that Society, but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance; and, with all your power, to build them up in that holiness, without which they cannot see the Lord.

And remember, a Methodist Preacher is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist Discipline. Therefore you will need all the grace and all the sense you have; and to have all your wits about you.

Wesley=s rules that define his healthy core group of leadership are very specific and clear. Many have sought to improve them by making them less specific, more vague and therefore less effective. Changes may need to be made, but the rules are effective because they are clear. People rise up to meet their challenges, and Wesley did not hesitate to make the challenge intimidating.


[1]Need.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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Unit 7.7 WESLEY’S RULES OF THE BAND

QUOTE

WESLEY’S RULES OF THE BAND

DRAWN UP DECEMBER 25, 1738.

THE design of our meeting is, to obey the command of God, AConfess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.@

To this end, we intend, C

1. To meet once a week, at the least.

2. To come punctually at the hour appointed, without some extraordinary reason.

3. To begin (those of us who are present) exactly at the hour, with singing or prayer.

4. To speak each of us in order, freely and plainly, the true state of our souls, with the faults we have committed in thought, word, or deed, and the temptations we have felt, since our last meeting.

5. To end every meeting with prayer suited to the state of each person present.

6. To desire some person among us to speak his own state first, and then to ask the rest, in order, as many and as searching questions as may be, concerning their state, sins, and temptations.

Some of the questions proposed to every one before he is admitted among us may be to this effect: C

1. Have you the forgiveness of your sins?

2. Have you peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ?

3. Have you the witness of God=s Spirit with your spirit, that you are a child of God?

4. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?

5. Has no sin, inward or outward, dominion over you?

6. Do you desire that every one of us should tell you, from time to time, whatsoever is in his heart concerning you?

7. Consider! Do you desire we should tell you whatsoever we think, whatsoever we fear, whatsoever we hear, concerning you?

8. Do you desire that, in doing this, we should come as close as possible, that we should cut to the quick, and search your heart to the bottom?

9. Is it your desire and design to be on this, and all other occasions, entirely open, so as to speak everything that is in your heart without exception, without disguise, and without reserve?

Any of the preceding questions may be asked as often as occasion others; the four following at every meeting: C

1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?

2. What temptations have you met with?

3. How were you delivered?

4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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Unit 7.6 HEALTHY LEADERSHIP CORE in Methodism

QUOTE

HEALTHY LEADERSHIP CORE

Methodism is a community defined by a rule, and more specifically, rules. The General Rules shape behavior at the level of the class meeting, the band rules for the band society. Wesley=s Ahelpers@ or lay preachers also have their own rules. These rules defined not only participation in leadership but also spiritual health. The rules are listed below:

The Nature, Design, and General Rules of Our United Societies

In the latter end of the year 1739 eight or ten persons came to Mr. Wesley, in London, who appeared to be deeply convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for redemption. They desired, as did two or three more the next day, that he would spend some time with them in prayer, and advise them how to flee from the wrath to come, which they saw continually hanging over their heads. That he might have more time for this great work, he appointed a day when they might all come together, which from thenceforward they did every week, namely, on Thursday in the evening. To these, and as many more as desired to join with them (for their number increased daily), he gave those advices from time to time which he judged most needful for them, and they always concluded their meeting with prayer suited to their several necessities.

This was the rise of the United Society, first in Europe, and then in America. Such a society is no other than “a company of men having the form and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that they may help each other to work out their salvation.”

That it may the more easily be discerned whether they are indeed working out their own salvation, each society is divided into smaller companies, called classes, according to their respective places of abode. There are about twelve persons in a class, one of whom is styled the leader. It is his duty:

1. To see each person in his class once a week at least, in order:

(1) to inquire how their souls prosper; (2) to advise, reprove, comfort or exhort, as occasion may require; (3) to receive what they are willing to give toward the relief of the preachers, church, and poor.

2. To meet the ministers and the stewards of the society once a week, in order:

(1) to inform the minister of any that are sick, or of any that walk disorderly and will not be reproved; (2) to pay the stewards what they have received of their several classes in the week preceding.

There is only one condition previously required of those who desire admission into these societies: “a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins.” But wherever this is really fixed in the soul it will be shown by its fruits.

It is therefore expected of all who continue therein that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,

First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as: The taking of the name of God in vain. The profaning the day of the Lord, either by doing ordinary work therein or by buying or selling. Drunkenness: buying or selling spirituous liquors, or drinking them, unless in cases of extreme necessity. Slaveholding; buying or selling slaves. Fighting, quarreling, brawling, brother going to law with brother; returning evil for evil, or railing for railing; the using many words in buying or selling. The buying or selling goods that have not paid the duty. The giving or taking things on usuryCi.e., unlawful interest. Uncharitable or unprofitable conversation; particularly speaking evil of magistrates or of ministers. Doing to others as we would not they should do unto us. Doing what we know is not for the glory of God, as: The putting on of gold and costly apparel. The taking such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord Jesus. The singing those songs, or reading those books, which do not tend to the knowledge or love of God. Softness and needless self‑indulgence. Laying up treasure upon earth. Borrowing without a probability of paying; or taking up goods without a probability of paying for them.

It is expected of all who continue in these societies that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,

Secondly: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men: To their bodies, of the ability which God giveth, by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the naked, by visiting or helping them that are sick or in prison. To their souls, by instructing, reproving, or exhorting all we have any intercourse with; trampling under foot that enthusiastic doctrine that “we are not to do good unless our hearts be free to it.” By doing good, especially to them that are of the household of faith or groaning so to be; employing them preferably to others; buying one of another, helping each other in business, and so much the more because the world will love its own and them only. By all possible diligence and frugality, that the gospel be not blamed. By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily; submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.

It is expected of all who desire to continue in these societies that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,

Thirdly: By attending upon all the ordinances of God; such are: The public worship of God. The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded. The Supper of the Lord. Family and private prayer. Searching the Scriptures. Fasting or abstinence.

These are the General Rules of our societies; all of which we are taught of God to observe, even in his written Word, which is the only rule, and the sufficient rule, both of our faith and practice. And all these we know his Spirit writes on truly awakened hearts. If there be any among us who observe them not, who habitually break any of them, let it be known unto them who watch over that soul as they who must give an account. We will admonish him of the error of his ways. We will bear with him for a season. But then, if he repent not, he hath no more place among us. We have delivered our own souls.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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Unit 7.5 American Adaptations of the Methodist discipleship system

QUOTE

AMERICAN DIFFERENCES[1]

Methodist DNA evolved differently on the prairies of the United States, where the parish church was the Methodist church. Class membership was necessary for membership and receiving the sacraments. Churches began as class meetings, shepherded between visits of the circuit rider by class leaders, many of whom were located preachers or licensed exhorters.[2] The terminology on the prairie is one of circuits made up of class meetings rather than Societies of the British type. There is no evidence of multiple classes being formed on the prairie in a single location as was normal in Wesley=s urban societies.[3] Class sizes increased to as many as seventy-three.[4] There is no evidence that anything like the band system developed on the prairie; the band concept was strenuously pushed in the first Book of Discipline of 1785 but all references had disappeared from the Discipline by 1844.[5] Class meetings and tickets were the major elements of Wesleyan Methodism found on the prairie.

Prairie class meetings became prairie churches, based on a single cell; this is a classic limitation to church growth as classes grew larger and became small churches.[6] The role of the class meeting to enforce church discipline seemed to disappear in America by the mid 19th century.[7] Both Watson and White note that the tone of writings on class meetings in the 19th century in America becomes increasingly apologetic and persuasive, concluding that the once natural popularity of the class meeting must be waning.[8] Class meetings flourished in early days between visits of the circuit riders ranging from once a month to six months.[9] As Methodists formed churches, the old timers in the class meeting experienced power struggles with the shift to resident clergy.[10] The non-denominational Sunday School movement also put pressure on the Methodist class system as early as 1830[11] and is widely seen as displacing the class meeting after 1875.[12] Participation in the class meeting as a requirement of membership was discontinued in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872.[13]

Prairie DNA was phenomenally successful in its time; from 1860-1920 the Methodist Episcopal Church grew from one million to well over four million members,[14] far outperforming Wesley=s societies. This membership increase coincides with the end of the requirement that all Methodists participate in class meeting as a condition of membership.[15] This change marks the end of classic Methodist discipline within the church as a whole, although the class meeting continues to this day as an option.


[1]For a more complete treatment of how Methodist DNA abandoned the Wesleyan discipleship system on the American prairies and became the shrinking Methodism of today, see the section on Prairie DNA on pp. 16-28 of Chapter One: Systemic Problems on the Resources page at www.disciplewalk.com.

[2]One suspects the presence of exhorters and located preachers led to class meetings that were more like worship services between visits of the circuit rider than the careful lay supervision toward holiness found in Wesley=s classes in England. Cf. Charles A. Johnson, The Frontier Camp Meeting: Religion’s Harvest Time (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1955), 20-24. Ferguson indicates this erosion of small group process as coinciding with rise of the camp meeting in 1805 and 1840. Cf. Charles W. Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil: Methodists and the Making of America (New York: Doubleday, 1971), 149.

[3]Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 14. Melton recognizes the pattern of single classes becoming single churches but refers to Asome societies with several classes@ in the 1840s without identifying locations; these could have been in urban Chicago. The author has found no single specific citing of a downstate Illinois Methodist church with more than one class meeting and no record of the use of bands or select bands on the prairie. Cf. J. Gordon Melton, Log Cabins to Steeples: the Complete Story of the United Methodist Way in Illinois Including All Constituent Elements of the United Methodist Church (n.p.: The Commissions on Archives and History, Northern, Central and Southern Illinois Conferences, 1974), 109, 111.

[4]Charles Edward White, AThe Rise And Decline Of The Class Meeting,@ Methodist History 40, no. 4 (July 2002), http://myweb.arbor.edu/cwhite/cm.pdf (accessed June 4, 2007), 7. Pagination is from the online resource.

[5]Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil, 75.

[6]For information on single cell churches and church growth resistance, see Carl Dudley, Making the Small Church Effective (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1978), 32-60.

[7]White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 4n29. Cf. David Lowes Watson, Class Leaders: Recovering A Tradition (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1991), 50-51.

[8]AWesley=s problem seems to be keeping the classes pure, while his successors= problem seems to be keeping the classes going.@ White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 5. Cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 44.

[9]The 1872 Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church indicates a second purpose in the Adesign of the organization of classes@ is to Aestablish and keep up a meeting for social and religious worship, for instruction, encouragement and admonition that shall be a profitable means of grace to our people. . .@ This is a purpose far wider than Wesley=s class meeting and probably reflects actual practice. Cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 48. Cf. Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 14.

[10]Watson, Class Leaders, 48-50, 152.

[11]Evers, History of the Southern Illinois Conference, 85, 88, 119, 121, 144. The growing emphasis on Sunday School diverts leaders and energy from class meetings. Cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 51-52. Watson, Early Methodist Class Meeting, 137, notes that references to the class meeting decline abruptly in British Methodist autobiographies in the 1830s. Yet White notes that there is some evidence of a 40% continued participation in the class meeting in 1900. Cf. White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 5n35.

[12]Watson, Class Leaders, 75.

[13]White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 6. The same change occurred in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1866 and in Britain in 1912. For an excellent description of the causes of the decline, cf. Watson, Class Leaders, 39-59.

[14]Charles Yrigoyen, Jr., APart Two: The Nineteenth Century@, in John G. McEllhenney, ed., United Methodism In America: A Compact History (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992), 91.

[15]Charles Edward White, ARise and Decline of the Class Meeting,@ 6. The requirement was ended in the Methodist Episcopal South in 1866 and the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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Unit 7.4 Stages in Wesley’s Methodist discipleship system

QUOTE

A person grew up through the Methodist discipleship system in the following stages:

1. To join the society a person had to seek out a sponsor who was a practicing Methodist. This demonstrates the relational characteristic of the discipleship system from the beginning. It would be useful to know if being the sponsor also involved aspects of serving as a mentor. From the very beginning of a pilgrim=s journey, Methodism involved linking to a sponsor already in the network. The pilgrim would grant the sponsor influence over their life, probably due to respect, and the sponsor=s influence would be a means of prevenient grace to draw the pilgrim into faith. The sponsor would show Christ=s love through acts of caring that would develop a relationship. They would have conversations about what is important in life; questions would be asked and answered. When the sponsor stopped to listen to the Methodist preacher on the way to work, the pilgrim would stand with the sponsor. To the degree the sponsor remains involved in the pilgrim=s life afterward, that relationship is also a means of sanctifying grace. Methodism is a network base design church which is connectional in nature.

2. The pilgrim joined a trial bandof 4-6 people. This Aspeed bump@ protected the faith community from the entrance of persons who were not ready for this level of commitment to holiness. The trial band tests the new member=s commitment to live a changed life and supports them in the turmoil of reorganization for holiness. This protects the class meetings from the instability of Aextra grace required@ people and furthers smooth operations at the next level. There seems to be a pattern of turning inward (trial band, band, penitent band) during times in a believer=s life that involve significant personal change; elements that interact with outsiders (class meeting, select society) would seem to be made up of people who are in a more stable phase of spiritual growth.

3. Class meeting: Wesley=s primary goal was to change the behavior of individual people toward holiness; the class meeting was an expedient innovation that began as a tool to raise funds but soon became Wesley=s tool for individual supervision in holiness.[1] Unlike the cells of a modern cell church, class meetings did not select their own members, select their own leaders, develop apprentice leaders or multiply into two class meetings. Like Yoido Church, they were geographical in nature. While they were filled out of involvement in the society – class meetings did not allow visitors – one suspects that, like Yoido, it is the networking influence of neighbors that brings persons to the society. Class meetings included both sexes, all ages, married and single, and remained together indefinitely as small communities of faith. With the practice of the General Rules, the second rule ensured that the class meeting was involved in Adoing good@ within their neighborhoods and they remained in contact with lost people. All class meetings met weekly; they emerged in February, 1742.

4. Band Society: the bands reintroduced turmoil for those who wanted Amore@ by a searching weekly examination of behavior regarding holiness. Holiness was an acceptable goal for an Anglican small group and Wesley=s writings reflect this single minded purpose. Moving away from the General Rules to the Band rules, however, seems to imply a focus only upon interior holiness. The stated goal of the bands is this: THE design of our meeting is, to obey the command of God, AConfess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.@ This is an interior focus upon personal holiness; it is hard to perceive a purpose of evangelism or community service within the rules of the Bands.[2] In order to allow frank and full confession, the bands were organized into groups of people in common states: male and female, married and single, so that all attending would be in the same circumstances. The leader would also be of the same type. Bands were not geographically oriented and therefore provided a cross section of the society; bands, therefore, functionally created multiple network connections across the society between class meetings as single men gathered with single men, married men gathered with married men, single women gathered with single women and married women gathered with married women. Band meetings normally took place in the Society house as a central meeting place. In my terminology, bands are for spiritual teenagers; it surprises me that the spiritual energy of band members does not seem to be directed toward projects and community service. According to Albin, band members do not participate in weekly class meetings, but relationships in their home neighborhoods would continue. Wesley also had separate band meetings for girls and for boys as young as eight years old. All bands met weekly. Bands were the original disciple making structure and were in place by December, 1738.

5. Select Society/Band: The select society was made up of the leaders of the Society. It included class leaders, band leaders and others involved in ministries. All ages and genders meet together in a group that could range in size from 6-60. The select society normally met on days when the traveling preacher or AMr. Wesley=s helper@ was present; this might be once a month. There is no hierarchy in the select society; all are equal, even the Wesleys or the assigned preachers. Within the select society, some might also meet as select bands. The select society is the healthy core group of leaders for the Methodist Society.

If I understand Albin correctly, participation in the select society was open to all, but the intense commitment and honest confrontation within the select society would cause people to self-select their participation in various stages of the discipleship system. When a person is ready, there are no barriers for advancement.

6. Penitent band: Early Methodism was hard to enter and easy to exit. People who would not continue in holy behavior were removed by the simple practice of not issuing them a new ticket for the following quarter. The ticket was necessary to participate in the activities of the Society. A penitent band of 3-4 people led by a person who had previously gone through the penitent band provided an opportunity for a person to demonstrate stability in their faith and holiness prior to reentry to the Society.       


[1]John Wesley, AA Plain Account of the People Called Methodists,@ The Works of John Wesley, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 8:252-255. There was a problem in Bristol with raising funds for the debt on the New Room. Captain Foy proposed that the Bristol society be subdivided and that each member give one penny. He asked to be assigned eleven of the poorest individuals whom he would visit each week; he would pay the penny for any unable to make a contribution. Each week class leaders met each person in their class, reviewed the behavior and spiritual condition of each individual, reported that condition to the stewards, and turned in an offering from each person. Eventually the decision was made for the class to meet as a group so that those who would seek to deceive the leader about their behavior could be immediately be confronted with the truth by their neighbors. The class meeting was never educational in purpose or focused on bible study, but always on the modification of behavior toward holiness. Roy Hattersley, The Life of John Wesley: A Brand from the Burning (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 200-201.

[2]The complete Rules of the Bands are printed below in the next section.

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

Posted in z_Major League Disciple Making | Leave a comment