Find Your Group
By Rev. Keith Turman | 2024-01-05 | 3 min read
In the winter of 1729, John Wesley, his brother Charles, William Morgan and Bob Kirkham started a small group. They met every week to pray together, study the Bible together, attend worship services, and share communion. They were intense. Their rigorous pursuit of holiness caused others at Oxford to mock them and call them names. The Bible Moths. The Holy Club. The Methodists. But that didn’t stop them from meeting together, because they understood the importance of name calling. They understood that when a person is committed to spiritual disciplines and practices, that person is uniquely positioned to hear God whispering their name. They also understood that God created us for each other. We need each other. I not only need to hear God calling my name, I need to hear you calling my name. The name calling is transformational. So, the small group became a thing—again. Small groups have fueled the Jesus movement from the very beginning.
Jesus’ first ministry project was to form a small group of people to join him in the challenging faith journey that lay ahead. He chose them, and he called them by name. Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas, son of James, and Judas Iscariot. They became traveling companions and they became friends. The early church continued the practice. They were devoted to prayer and worship, and they were devoted to each other, worshiping in the temple together and breaking bread together in their homes (Acts 2). The writer of the letter to the Hebrews urges the church to “consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
The need for companionship along life’s journey is an ever-present reality, and the early Methodist leaders felt so strongly about small group participation that they made attendance mandatory! The movement had purchased a “preaching house” in Bristol where they would hold their larger meetings. Wesley and others came up with an ingenious plan to pay off the mortgage. They divided the Society into classes of about 12 people each where one was designated the leader. The leader's job was to meet with each member weekly to collect a penny. And on the way to paying off the bank, these leaders discovered that Methodist people were struggling. They were drinking too much, fighting too much, and failing to keep their commitment to the three General Rules: 1. Do no harm; 2. Do good; 3. Stay in love with God. Wesley described the mandatory meetings as “A company of [men and women] 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.”
Small groups at FUMC Waynesville come in many shapes and sizes. But all of them share one thing in common—they are filled with people who care for one another. Our small groups offer a place to belong and grow—a place to love and be loved. They will be on display at our Small Groups Expo, Sunday, February 11, before and after each morning service. Old groups, new groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, study groups, prayer groups, Journey groups, and special interest groups, to name just a few. I hope you will come. I hope you will find your group. I know from experience, name calling changes everything.