Wesley's Way: Accountable Discipleship
Intentional Faith Development in the way of John Wesley is one of “accountable discipleship,” according to Dr. Paul Chilcote.
“Despite the sibling rivalry that characterized the relationship between John and Charles Wesley, it’s abundantly clear that they were intentional about being accountable to one another in virtually every aspect of their living,” Chilcote said.
Chilcote, the director of Applied Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio, was Thursday’s Theologian in Residence, presenting Intentional Faith Development: The Wesleyan Way.
Chilcote said the Wesleys took to heart the concept of “watching over one another in love” as a model that was to be imitated by their followers. “Methodists understood that accountable discipleship was the key to being fruitful Christians,” Chilcote said. “They affirmed their need of others to successfully complete the pilgrimage of faith.”
The use of bands and classes were a way in which early Methodists provided mutual encouragement and genuine care for one another.
“The Wesleyan way is also characterized by holistic spirituality,” Chilcote said. “It included works of piety and works of mercy. Prayer is the foundation of all works of piety and Methodists were a people of prayer.”
Chilcote said the Wesleys found it impossible to separate their personal experience of God and devotion to Christ from their active role as ambassadors of reconciliation and social transformation in the world. “Authentic Christianity, they had learned, is mission; sincere engagement in God’s mission is true religion,” Chilcote said. “Their lives reveal a missionary vision with an evangelistic core. Their most profound desire was to share the good news they had experienced in Christ with others in both word and deed.”
Holy Communion was seen as a primary means of grace where “seeds of hope were planted at the Table.”
But Communion is not the end, but a means. “We gather at the Table to meet Jesus again, but then God sends us out into the world to share God’s amazing gifts with all we meet along the way,” Chilcote said. “Christ spins us out into the world where we practice works of mercy, acts of compassion and justice in the world.”