Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Monday, December 1, 2014

John Wesley's Christmas Gift to those seeking that "holiness without which no one will see the Lord"

On the First Sunday in Advent 2014, as I have distributed my Pastoral Letter, Advent 2014: A Call to Discipleship, to my local and worldwide congregation, it is apt to post the following "rules" that John Wesley published in 1738. One doesn't have to be Wesleyan or Methodist (these two are very different in the 21st Century) to see the value in such meetings.

My current project for my spare time, now that I have submitted my Masters thesis to Wits for an MScMed (Ethics and Health Law), is the development of a Discipleship Course based on John Wesley's Sermon on the Mount, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Discipleship (which is his major exposition on the Sermon on the Mount) and Scot McKnight's Sermon on the Mount. This will be a sequel to my Sermon on the Mount Series on Basic Christian living

What do you think of being part of a Covenanted Discipleship Group that meets along the lines mentioned below. I'd love to hear your input. Please send comments or suggestions to

On Christmas Day, 1738, John Wesley drew up the rules for the Methodist small groups called bands.

Rules of the Band Societies

Drawn up Dec. 25, 1738

THE design of our meeting is, to obey that command of God, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”
To this end, we intend, —
1. To meet once a week, at the least.
2. To come punctually at the hour appointed, without some extraordinary reason.
3. To begin (those of us who are present) exactly at the hour, with singing or prayer.
4. 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.
5. To end every meeting with prayer, suited to the state of each person present.
6. To desire some 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.

Some of the questions proposed to every one before he is admitted among us may be to this effect:
1. Have you the forgiveness of your sins?
2. Have you peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ?
3. Have you the witness of God’s Spirit with your spirit, that you are a child of God?
4. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?
5. Has no sin, inward or outward, dominion over you?
6. Do you desire to be told of your faults?
7. Do you desire to be told of all your faults, and that plain and home?
8. Do you desire that every one of us should tell you, from time to time, whatsoever is in his heart concerning you?
9. Consider! Do you desire we should tell you whatsoever we think, whatsoever we fear, whatsoever we hear, concerning you?
10. Do you desire that, in doing this, we should come as close as possible, that we should cut to the quick, and search your heart to the bottom?
11. Is it your desire and design to be on this, and all other occasions, entirely open, so as to speak everything that is in your heart without exception, without disguise, and without reserve?

Any of the preceding questions may be asked as often as occasion others; the four following at every meeting: —
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?

[The above is sourced from the Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley, Volume 9, page 77. Abingdon Press]

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