In 1748, John Wesley wrote a letter to a friend describing how the Methodist societies began. Wesley and his brother began to preach and sing that religion is not:
- Right opinions
- A collection of “do nots”
- Externals, good works, or charity
They preached that religion was to have “the mind of Christ – to be filled with the image of God – and to be at peace with your maker.” People responded to this message by the thousands, and in order that these people might grow closer to God, Wesley set up the early Methodist societies into small groups. He plainly stated the rules for these groups in 1748:
- To meet once a week at the least
- To come punctually at the hour appointed
- To begin with singing or prayer
- 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
- To desire one 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
The fruits of these groups were extra-ordinary. It became the basis of the most vital Christian experience in the history of England, one which improved the life of most every man, woman, and child in that country during the 18th century.
What was true then is true today – we all need friends, brothers, sisters, those who care – we need “to come together to strengthen each other...to talk together as often as we can...to pray earnestly with and for one another that we may endure...and in the end find some means of salvation.”
You are invited to experience a Wesleyan Heritage Tour to England July 11-19, 2017. We will hold an informational meeting on June 19 in the Chapel after both services (9:30 and 12:05). You are invited to learn more about this exciting opportunity!