The Wesleyan discipleship system was always more focused on holiness than evangelism …

This entry is part 56 of 118 in the series Diagnosis, Dialogue, Decision: A DMin Project

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 “spread scriptural holiness across the land.”[1]

            The Wesleyan discipleship system was always more focused on holiness than evangelism; while field preaching drew large crowds, Wesley’s Societies statistically “constituted only a fraction of one percent of the populace” in any given year.[2] 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] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

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.

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

[2]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.

Series Navigation<< As Methodists formed churches, the old timers in the class meeting experienced power struggles with the shift to resident clergy.Francis Asbury preached the gospel on the empty prairies during a vast migration of people from urban to rural areas. >>
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