John Wesley’s class meetings were at the forefront of the development of the Methodist movement for many years. This was at the early stage of the development of Methodism. Wesley at that time was still a part of the Anglican Church. Aside from his preaching, one of his concentrations was on class meetings which were mainly small group meetings of 6-8 persons. They would meet weekly at regular places. Attendance was monitored and there were certain stringent requirements to be part of the group.
They were expected to attend most of the meetings, do the regular Bible reading and family prayers, work regularly among the poor and tithe to their churches. An important point of this class meetings were the self-reflection to be done before and during the meeting. This is not a private affair that is so common among our culture but these self-reflections will be discussed among the group. Members hold each other responsible and accountable. To achieve that John Wesley developed a series of questions to be answered prayerfully during their personal devotional life and these questions will then be answered truthfully to all members of the class.
Any failure will be immediately acted upon and prayed for. It was this element of accountability that made these small groups such a powerful instrument in the development of men in the faith. Later, as the movement became a denomination and more emphasis were being placed on being church, the small groups began to lose its effectiveness. However the lessons learnt from John Wesley’s class meetings can be applied to small group dynamics in any organizations.
The following self-reflection questions were to be asked at every class meeting:
(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 fault?
(7) Do you desire to be told of all your faults, and that plain and home [to the point]?
(8) Do you desire that every one of us should tell you from time to time, whatsoever is in his heart concerning you?
(John Wesley’s instructions to Class Meetings and Bands, 1872/1986, vol.8: 272-274)
These questions are designed to create self-reflection, confession, commitment and accountability. Thus it will be useful to incorporate it into any cell groups or small groups in a church or any organization.