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Pastor's Note
Reverend, Warren R. Carswell

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As we are in the middle of Living as Disciples sermon series, I wanted to share some thoughts from John Wesley's regarding discipleship.

"Perhaps the greatest single weakness of the contemporary Christian Church is that millions of supposed members are not really involved at all and, what is worse, do not think it strange that they are not. As soon as we recognize Christ's intention to make His Church a militant company we understand at once that the conventional arrangement cannot suffice. There is no real chance of victory in a campaign if ninety per cent of the soldiers are untrained and uninvolved, but that is exactly where we stand now." -Elton Trueblood

Founded on Jesus' blueprint for discipleship, John Wesley developed a simple plan for maturing and equipping the saints. Wesley said, "The Church changes the world not by making converts but by making disciples." Jesus commanded us to: "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19,20).

Wesley's Four Basic Convictions for Discipleship:

1. The Necessity of Discipleship:
John Wesley wrote, "I am more and more convinced that the devil himself desires nothing more than this, that the people of any place should be half-awakened and then left to themselves to fall asleep again."

2. The Necessity of Small Groups for Discipleship:

In 1743 John Wesley organized a society. "Such a society is no other than a company of men having the form and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that they may help each other to work out their own salvation." Discipline was the key to this level of holy living. Wesley created 3 strands of discipleship: Societies, Classes, and Bands.

Society: Strand 1 – The Crowd (these were the multitudes)

Purpose: To Bring About A Change in Knowledge

Class: Strand 2 – The Cell (these were Jesus' 12)

Purpose: To Bring About Behavioral Change

Band: Strand 3 – The CORE (these were Jesus' inner circle made up of Peter, James, and John)

Purpose: To Bring About A Change of Direction, Heart and Position

3. The Necessity of Leadership in Discipleship:

A small army was needed to provide the leadership for this 3-Strand Discipleship Model, and, just as is true today, professional paid staff simply was not available. Wesley trained and mobilized a massive army of leaders, putting as many as 1 in 10 of his members into leadership roles – barbers, blacksmiths, bakers, men and women. The job description of those who looked after societies and classes was: "preach, teach, study, travel, meet with bands, classes, exercise daily and eat sparingly."

4. Holiness and Service as the Goals of Discipleship:

Wesley's goals for this entire process were: godliness and goodwill – spirituality and service to others. This system and process produced a new kind of citizen at a period of history when crime and every form of public sin were rampant. These men and women reformed both the church and the society in which they lived.

Grace and Peace,
Warren Carswell
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