People respond to things in different ways. What may move one, will not move another. Realizing that people respond to things in different ways, John Wesley developed various methods for ministry and discipleship. The methods he developed continue to prove to be effective in ministry today. Therefore, his various methods should be pointed out and studied. It is evident today that true ministry cannot be done without being a proficient disciple of Christ. Reputable discipleship and effective ministry is seen throughout Christendom.
This paper will identify and point out methods revealed by John Wesley that continue to strengthen church ministry and shape diligent disciples today. Experiences in life shape the way the world is seen, and those same experiences show an individual how to make it through. After going through an experience an individual can look back and see the methods involved in producing a positive outcome. An individual can successfully refine this by using it over and over again and adding or taking away to find consistent methods that are not only useful for themselves, but for others who will come after them.
What then were some of the influential experiences of John Wesley that inspired his thoughts on ministry and discipleship? 1 Deterrence Samuel, “OKLAHOMA SOONER”, Crisis (Novo. -Deck. 002): 40, accessed January 29, 2015. Diligently seeking to be a Christian, so that others would know Christ through the life he lived. That just might sum up the life of John Wesley who was born in 1703 to Samuel and Susann Wesley. His father, was an Anglican priest and Wesley soon followed suit. He was educated at Oxford and in 1728 was ordained as an Anglican priest. After serving as a curate for his father, Wesley returned to Oxford.
While at Oxford, Wesley, his brother Charles, and several friends, were called to speak to a man who was sent to prison for murdering his wife. They were able to pray and speak to the man. They were so pappy with the results, they decided to try and go to the prison once or twice a week. Soon after they were asked to visit a poor woman who was sick and after visiting her, they decided that they would visit others who were sick or poor. One day Wesley decided to speak to the chaplain at Oxford, who took care of the condemned prisoners, and asked him if he could preach to them once a month, if the Bishop gave his consent.
When they found out that the Bishop had given his consent and blessings, Wesley, his brother, and several others began to earnestly minister to and visit their neighbors, prisoners, and several poor families in the own. Wesley was so excited with what was going on, that he wrote a clergy friend and gave him an account of what they were doing and the success it was having. There were some though, who were not so happy and became angry with what they were doing and so named them, ‘The Holy Club. ‘ Many were upset with what Wesley and The Holy Club were doing, but John answered with this in a letter, ay the law and to the testimony” (Sis. :20) we appeal, and by which we ought to be judged. If by these it can be proved we are in an error, we will immediately and gladly retract it; if not, we have not so learned Christ s to renounce any part of His service. ” 2 Wesley loved Christ and saw ministry as an opportunity to minister to those in his community. This is only one of the many influential experiences that began to shape the thoughts of Wesley and helped in developing his vision of ministry and discipleship. Another memorable experience is when Wesley went to minister at Savannah in the Georgia Colony.
On October 14, 1735, Wesley, his brother, and a few others left on a ship bound for Georgia. While on the journey they ran into several storms and they rejoiced that the Lord had brought them through. During the last of one of the storms hat they had to go through, they thought the ship was going to tear apart. So they got together and prayed for nearly three hours. On the ship were two groups of people, the Germans and the English. While the storm was raging the Germans began to sing and continued singing as the storm worsened. The English, on the other hand, began screaming.
When the storm calmed Wesley asked one of the Germans if they were afraid, and they answered, “l thank God, no. ” He then asked if the women and children were afraid, and the man responded, “No; our women and children are not afraid to die”3 Wesley then .NET to the English and pointed out the difference between those who fear God and those who don’t. It was then that Wesley began to 2 Alice Russia, deed, “The Essential Works of John Wesley,” Barbour Publishing, (2011): 17-25. 3 Alice Russia, His Spiritual Journey, 29. Notice a difference between the English and the Germans. And so he decided to ask the advice of one of the German pastors.
The pastor asked Wesley several questions that stayed on his mind. “Have you the witness within yourself? ‘, “Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God? ” When the pastor saw that Wesley could not answer the questions, he then asked three more questions and this is how Wesley said the conversation went. “Do you know Jesus Christi I paused and said, “l know He is the Savior of the world. ” В«True,” replied he; “but do you know He has saved you? ” I answered, “l hope He has died to save me. ” He only added, “Do you know yourself? ” I said, “l do. “They were vain words, “4 wrote Wesley. Wesley was troubled by the questions asked by the German Pastor to the point that he neglected his flock and couldn’t speak with the sailors. Close to three year later still reflecting on the state of his win soul, Wesley came to the conclusion that he did not have real faith in God. He searched himself and believed himself to be full of pride and that his words were not edifying. Wesley got to the point that he made this declaration, “l went to America to convert the Indians; but O! Who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of unbelief?
I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; and believe myself while no danger is near. But let death look me in the face and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, “To die is gain! “5 Wesley felt his ministry was unsuccessful, but what he really found was his own Ibid. , 29. 5 Ibid. , 32. Need to develop a closer relationship with Christ. His experience on the ship helped him to realize that true ministry cannot be done without true belief in God. Heading back to London, Wesley asked his friend, Peter, whether or not he should preach about faith, since he didn’t really have any.
His friend Peter replied, “Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith. “6 Due to his experience with the Holy Club, Wesley began to realize his visions of ministry and discipleship, and his experience on the ship with the English and the Germans, helped him to see he needed to have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. While in London, Wesley joined a religious group called the Moravian Christians. They believed Christians should have a high regard for Christian unity, personal piety, missions, and music.
It was during this time that Wesley began to diligently search the scriptures. Though he still didn’t fully feel he believed, he continued to preach the gospel. It was during this time that he experienced his conversion. While reading Lather’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans, he began to read the part that was describing the change that God brings in the heart, through faith in Jesus. It was then that Wesley states in his journal, “l felt my heart strangely warmed” Though after this he was tempted on many occasions, his faith never wavered. Wesley departed from the Moravian Christians soon after, and began his own ministry.
Based on his past experiences, Wesley began to see the call that God had placed on his life. These experiences would later shape the methods he would use throughout 6 Ibid. , 35. 7 Ibid. , 38. His ministry and his teachings on discipleship. Wesley realized that his calling was to reach out to those in need, but in order to do it effectively, he must have personal relationship with God. His experience revealed having a personal relationship with God will bring faith, and faith will lead to strengthen not only those who are being served, but it serves to strengthen those who exercise it.
Wesley then began to go out and preach on the streets. He would pray, read the scriptures, sing praises, and then go preach. His prayer was a simple one, “O God, save me, and all that are in the faith,” from “doubtful disputations! “8 The basis of Wesley beliefs regarding ministry and discipleship were formed by his biblical studies and theological doctrines. What biblical or theological inundations specifically helped form Wesley beliefs regarding ministry and discipleship? One of the key steps in Wesley ministry is that he loved to travel and preach outdoors.
Wesley embraced the Armenian doctrines which believe in atonement and Christian grace. Wesley said, “All of my works, my righteousness, my prayers need an atonement for themselves. So that my mouth is stopped. I have nothing to plead. God is holy; I am unholy. God is a consuming fire: am altogether a sinner, suitable only to be consumed. “9 Wesley was constantly checking himself to make sure he was doing God’s will. Wesley wrote, “And I found the difference twine this and my former state chiefly consisted in this.
I was striving, yes, fighting with all my might under the law as well as under grace. But then sometimes, if not often, conquered; 8 Ibid. , 40 9 Ibid. , 38 now, I was always conquered. “10 Due to Wesley beliefs in atonement and Christian grace, he was led to focus on Christian perfection. Wesley was concerned that the people didn’t want the preachers to preach about perfection and that those who did, the people would treat as heathens. So through his studies he declared the bible stated, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded… 1 He then began to preach at different churches to which he, “endeavored to purge the [London] society of all who did not walk according to the gospel. ” 1 2 Wesley began to preach to the people ways in which they could practice serious religion. He believed that in joining in a covenant with God and giving Him your heart, soul, and mind you would begin your journey to Christian perfection. Wesley also learned the importance of fasting. He wrote in his journal, ‘There is something remarkable in the manner in which God revived His work in these part.
A few months ago the generality of people in this circuit were exceeding lifeless. Perceiving this, Samuel Maggot advised the society at Bernard- Castle to observe every Friday with fasting and prayer. The very first Friday they met together, God broke in upon them in a wonderful manner; and His work has been increasing among them ever since. The neighboring societies heard of this, agreed to follow the same rule, and soon experienced the same blessing. Is not the neglect of this plain duty (l mean, fasting, ranked by our Lord with alimenting and prayer) one general occasion of deadness among Christians?
Can anyone willingly 10 Ibid. , 39 11 Philippians 3:15, KAVA 2 Ibid. , 49 neglect it and be guiltless? ‘ 13 Another doctrine that rose up and influenced Wesley methods of ministry was sacramental theology, which maintains that means of grace, is the manner by which God transforms and sanctifies believers. It encouraged individuals to experience Jesus Christ personally. Wesley organized many small groups that developed discipleship practices and gave religious instructions. These small groups of people, under Wesley instructions, became Methodist leaders or he appointed them as unordered evangelist to travel and preach.
This led to lay preachers and lay evangelist. Are there any methods in ministry and discipleship developed by Wesley that continue to be used to lead men and women to Jesus Christ? Yes. One is the importance of Grace. Kevin M. Watson in his book, A Blueprint for Discipleship, says this, “According to scripture, grace plays a primary role in our salvation: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. ” Grace is the source of our salvation.
Grace is the reason that we can have hope when we begin to realize the extent of the distance that we have put between ourselves and God. According to the letter to the Ephesians, we are saved by grace through faith. Thus, Wesley and many other influential Christian leaders insist that even our ability to have faith is grace-empowered. ” Seven goes on to say before you can talk about the methods that Wesley used for helping Christians become disciples of Christ, you 13 Ibid. , 50-51 14 Kevin M. Watson, A Blueprint for Discipleship, 14. Just first lay the foundation that the methods are built on and that is the Grace of God. What methods of ministry or marks then has Wesley left on the Church that continue to be effective today. Dean Blessings and Mark Maddox in their book, Discovering Discipleship: Dynamics of Christian Education, state, “John Wesley had his own version of the “marks of the church. ” A “saved and saving community’ demonstrated living faith, biblical preaching and sacraments, disciplines of the Spirit and Christian mission, all through the power of the Holy Spirit.
These marks give clues to the nature of what the church is called to be and do. Wesley emphasis on activity-preaching and sacraments… -reveals both his appreciation for traditional sacraments and his broader category of the means of grace. 15 Another contribution of Wesley to the modern church is social reform. Dean and Mark in their chapter on, Wesley the Educator, says this, “John Wesley desired to cure the diseased soul. ” They go on to say that Wesley evangelistic goals were not only for the adults but also for the children, namely Christian Education.
Wesley call is the call of the church now, developing schools for children will save souls. Wesley believed in small groups and today small groups are used to give bible studies, to visit jails and prisons, for children’s ministries, and to do evangelism. Wesley methods of ministry and discipleship can be seen wrought the Christian Church. Due to his ministry methods, many churches have been started and planted, and many a soul has been saved due to street preachers preaching.
Wesley has 15 Dean Blessings and Mark Maddox, Discovering Discipleship, 63. Opened the way for prison reform and prison ministries which continue today in jails and prisons all over the world. Lay preachers are being trained and appointed by pastors and churches to help in the vineyard. Jesus declared, “Then gaits he unto his disciples, The harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few. ” 16 Lay preachers all over the world are bringing souls to Jesus Christ, using the discipleship and ministry methods of Wesley.
It is clearly evident that John Wesley was determined to develop a closer relationship with God and make a difference in those around him. Based upon his personal experiences he began to develop methods of ministry and discipleship that consistently drew men and women to Jesus Christ. Due to his continued efforts to create viable methods to share Christ and strengthen disciples,