Last week, I outlined what I believe to be the lessons learned during the pandemic and what our focus should be going forward. You can read that post here (click on “here” to be taken to the post).
This week I want to dig deeper into the first two points of focus: Life Groups and Discipleship Groups.
Nestled deep in our Wesleyan DNA is the genius of John Wesley’s small groups. He was a trail blazer in this regard, and saw that Christians needed the accountability of small discipleship groups in order to grow toward sanctification or holiness. So he formed the Class Meeting and the Band Meeting. He also formed the Society Meeting, which is roughly equivalent to our Sunday morning worship gathering. The other two meetings, Class and Band, were small groups of Christians intent upon becoming more like Jesus (discipleship). They are both accountability groups, but they serve different levels of commitment.
The Class Meeting, what we call “Life Groups”, were made up of up to 12 persons. The ages and sexes can be mixed. The leader asks each member in turn, “How goes it with your soul?” Or they may use a different version of the same question, such as “How is your spiritual walk going?” or “How’s your relationship with God?” The question is meant to elicit a response from each person, telling of their struggles and successes in walking in the footsteps of Jesus. It can include struggles with temptation, and even confession of sin. The person shares without being interrupted with suggestions or “counseling” from the group. Taking 5-10 minutes, each person in the Class (Life Group) shares. The purpose is to spur the members on to significant discipleship growth.
The Band Meeting, what we call “Discipleship Groups” here at The Fount, were made up of 3-5 persons, same sex (gender) and relatively close in age and marital status. The Band members also answer the “How goes it with your soul?” question, but then there are a series of probing questions to push deeper into one’s spiritual life. “What sins have you committed since we last met?” and “How were you delivered from it?” The Band Meeting (Discipleship Group) is not for the faint of heart! But it is for those who are serious about their walk with Jesus, to the point that they no longer wish to “fake it” or to hide from fellow believers. Because the sins discussed can be sensitive, Band Meetings are limited to all-men or all-women, no mixing. And it helps to be in around the same life stage as the other members. I have been in a Band Meeting for over four years, meeting with two other guys over Facebook Messenger video chat every Monday morning. It has absolutely transformed my spiritual life!
My goal, as your pastor, is to have EVERY member of The Fount involved in a Life Group (class meeting) and most of the members involved in a Discipleship Group (band meeting). I believe with all my heart that these small groups are the key to our growth as a church and as individual members. It is being true to our Wesleyan heritage and makes us unique from the cacophony of churches all around. I believe we are to be a church of small groups, not a church with small groups. Do you hear the difference?
If you would like to join a Life Group and/or a Discipleship Group, please see me. I will match you with an existing group or form a new one to include you. This is important.
The pandemic has taught us that we cannot continue to simply do church as we’ve always done. It is time to step it up and reclaim who we are as spiritual descendants of John and Charles Wesley. Join the revolution!