Senior Ministry

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The Method of Methodism

Methodism or the Methodist movement is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their inspiration from the life and teachings of John Wesley, an Anglican minister in England. George Whitefield and John Wesley’s brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. It originated as a revival within the 18th century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley’s death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

As a student at Oxford in 18th century England, John Wesley and his brother Charles formed a religious student group called the Holy Club. As other students observed their disciplined and patterned way of approaching spiritual growth, they became called “methodists.” This name of derision later became the common name for Wesley’s burgeoning revival movement in the Church of England.

The Oxford Holy Club, founded by John Wesley, was the first of many Methodist societies that followed a set of general rules developed by Wesley himself:

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

By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced

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

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.

The idea was to help Christians draw closer to God and attain Christian perfection through the process of sanctification*. Basically (my words here) you follow the rules and you build good habits and that helps you be a better Christian.

These three rules have been a part of Methodism since the very beginning, and they’re still prominent in many Methodist organizations today. There’s actually a book based on the Wesley method called The John Wesley Great Experiment. In the 60s, John Wesley UMC in Tallahassee, FL started a study group based on the book called “Wanted: Ten Brave Christians” that still gets used today.