What Works For Me In…A Different Kind of Labor

“There is need of a different kind of labor in our churches from what they have had. Those ministers who are inclined merely to preach, and not to visit and put forth personal effort, need to break up this habit by working earnestly in families. Let families invite in their neighbors, and then let the minister hold Bible readings with them, and become acquainted with them. There needs to be less preaching and more pastoral work done in our churches. Those who have no aptitude for this kind of labor, should educate themselves, and come more into harmony with Christ’s manner of working. Habit is not formed by one act alone, but is the result of a succession of actions. God’s workers are called upon to vary their labor; they should surprise the people and happily disappoint them by doing work that will be instructive, and that will interest the mind. There should be fewer sermons, and more educating.” {HM, Nov. 1, 1890}

Why not “kill two birds with one stone” – doing a “different kind of labor,” reviving personal ministry and prayer meetings. How? By holding prayer meetings in member’s homes using the method John Wesley developed for “class meetings.”

Guidelines for Wesley-style Class Meetings: These questions are designed for class meetings – small groups of one or two families and/or up to 15 people. In such meetings every person present was addressed and responded. Class meetings were held in homes as well as in church buildings. Class members were encouraged to share their faith and bring others who weren’t members to class meetings.

  1. The first step is for the leader to state his own spiritual condition, giving those in the class the right to ask him any question concerning his state.
  2. If this is a meeting of those who have not been in the class before, then he should ask questions to each person one at a time. The questions should be suited to each need. These questions should start with the beginning of the Christian life, then leading up to the more advanced stages of Christian experience.

If the class consists of those who have been in such meetings prior to this one, then the questions should be concerning their progression in Christian life.

  1. These classes should consist of twelve and not more than fifteen. If there were more than fifteen, a second class should be formed.
  1. The first series of questions should be aimed at those just started on the Christian way.
    1. Have you the forgiveness of sins?
    2. Have you peace with God?
    3. Have you the witness of the Spirit?
    4. How is your relationship with your neighbor?
    5. Have you a love for spiritual things?
    6. Any questions relating to Christian experience
  2. The second series should be directed to those who have been professing Christians for a time.
    1. Are you walking in the light God shines on your way?
    2. Are you experiencing the conviction for entire sanctification?
    3. Are you progressing in your walk with God?
    4. Is there progress in your field of labor?
    5. Have you desire for a fuller fellowship with the Savior?
  3. The third in the series should be directed to those who are increasing in the love and knowledge of the Lord or at least should be.
    1. Is your holiness increasing?
    2. Have you an increase in mercy, compassion, humbleness of mind?
    3. Do you have an increase in faith and labor of love?

     Until next time…Freely you have received. Freely give.

Grace and peace,

John A. Sweigart
Ks-Ne Conference
Ministerial, Evangelism and Church Ministries 

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