Building a Church John Wesley Style

No, it’s not a typo. I’m not referring to Gangnam Style church planting, although that would certainly be interesting. I’m referring to something a little more old school, although very relevant to how we’re doing things at The Pilgrimage. I’d like to copy a recent post from my friend Dr. Doug Dorman over at Your Next Step Ministries on the subject of the Wesley Ministry Model.

Before you read the post, don’t forget to check out Doug’s work at Your Next Step Ministries. I highly recommend signing up to receive his blog.


And now from Doug…

The Wesley’s Ministry Model

In England in the eighteenth century, there were two brothers and a college friend who shaped culture on two continents. John and Charles Wesley partnered with their friend George Whitefield to proclaim Jesus to the world around them. The Wesleys approach reflects the unique dance of large and small group interaction. John Wesley did address large crowds of people, and Charles wrote music that the crowds sang. This, however, was only part of their strategy.

They created circle, or small group meetings and they focused on training a few. The small group emphasis was central to spreading their message. The smaller groups provided a means of relational discipleship in the same way that Jesus group of 12, Pauls emphasis on house to house, and Johns language of family.

In 2012, I attended summer school at Wycliffe Hall at the University of Oxford. During a walking tour provided by the school, we went to the building where the Holy Club met. The docent informed us that the Wesleys, though not rich, were more well-heeled than George Whitefield. They included Whitefield in their club by invitation; Whitefield returned the favor by inviting John Wesley to preach in the open fields. This was the beginning of the First Great Awakening.

John Wesley’s message was simple. He wrote in a pamphlet, It is the plain old Christianity that I teach” John Wesley believed that his purpose was to lead others to Christ. English theologian Alister McGrath said, Wesleys emphasis upon the experiential side of Christian faith, which contrasted sharply with the dullness of contemporary English Deism, led to a major religious revival in England

The influence of the Wesleys” was not limited to future salvation. American theologian D.A.Carson said, “The Evangelical Awakening witnessed massive social change led by Christians converted under the ministries of Howell Harris, George Whitefield, John Wesley, and their contemporaries.” The Wesleys’ influence was not limited to their lifetime either. The modern missionary movement can also be traced to the revival of the eighteenth century.

As I move further and further into our efforts here at The Pilgrimage, I keep finding awesome examples of some pretty famous folks that did it the same way, a long time before us. I guess I could say, “It was good enough for the Wesleys, so it’s certainly good enough for us.”

If you’d like to find out more and experience it for yourself, come check us out.


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