John Wesley's 3-Strand Discipleship Process

³Perhaps 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, ³The Church changes the world not by making converts but by making disciples.´ Jesus commanded us to: ³go 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) Biblical Discipleship: ³Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.´ (1 John 2:6) Growing Authentic Disciples of Jesus Discipleship is a common term in churches, but how well are we developing Christ-like people? With millions of born again Christians suffering from biblical illiteracy and culture-accommodating lifestyles, we must reassess how we train people to be true followers of our Lord Jesus. How Jesus Taught: Jesus ministered to the multitudes at least 17 times according to the Bible. However, there are approximately 46 mentions in the Bible where He spent His time in private with His disciples. In those smaller group settings He trained His committed followers for their own ministries. He ministered one-onone, one-on-two, and one-on-three. At other times His ministry was conducted one-on-twelve. He also provided on-the-job training with the 70; and spent some apprenticeship time with the 120 as well as placing some emphasis with the 500 in Galilee. ³Go And Make Disciples...Teaching Them To Obey´ (Show, Tell, Release, Supervise): The great commission has two parts. The first is for us to go and make disciples. The second is of no less significance, but most often set aside to secondary importance if used at all. It is to teach them (apprentice disciples) to obey. In fact, there cannot be a disciple without this training. And there cannot be training without accountability. The primary objective of the Church today as outlined by Jesus is for disciples of Jesus to develop other men and women into disciples. Discipleship should be at the forefront of our efforts. Everything we do, say and teach should be considered as we ask, ³How will this help us make disciples?´ The most effective manner to train and equip people for any skill is by providing effective models and opportunities to practice the skill itself. Jesus used a show, tell, release, and supervise model of training. After calling the disciples, He took them along with Him, teaching and healing the sick as He went. Then, after He thought the disciples had seen and learned enough to try for themselves, He commissioned,

bakers. If you wanted to continue in the society you had to be in a class. and to watch over one another in love. said. The class was composed of 12-20 members. 3. all of whom were in classes. and purity of motive. just as is true today. These large groups of people met once a week to pray. congregational meeting in today¶s church. The Necessity of Small Groups for Discipleship: In 1743 John Wesley organized a society. James. blacksmiths. Every week each class member was expected to speak openly and honestly on the true state of his or her soul. This group provided the structure to more closely inspect the condition of the flock. He introduced accountability questions which everyone answered openly and honestly in the meeting each week: 1) What known sins have you committed since our last meeting? 2) What temptations have you met with? 3) How were you delivered? 4) What have you thought.´ Discipline was the key to this level of holy living. In 1742 in one society in London there were 426 members.´ . The environment was one of ruthless honesty and frank openness. They were voluntary cells of people who professed clear Christian commitment. This was the group that could intensively pursue goals and vision together. instructed. Bands became the training ground for future leaders. united in order to pray together. meet with bands. both sexes. that they may help each other to work out their own salvation. to receive the word of exhortation. The job description of those who looked after societies and classes was: ³preach. Wesley created 3 strands of discipleship: Societies. teach. study scripture. Wesley¶s Four Basic Convictions for Discipleship: 1. ³Such a society is no other than a company of men having the form and seeking the power of godliness.barbers. Membership in a class meeting was non-negotiable. and Bands. Band: Strand 3 . and. sing. or done. who desired to grow in love. travel. It was not a gathering for academic learning. holiness. There was little or no provision made at this level for personal response or feedback." Class: Strand 2 . Classes. John described a society as "a company of people having the Form.empowered. putting as many as 1 in 10 of his members into leadership roles . much like a typical. of which you doubt whether it be sin or not? 5) Have you nothing you desire to keep secret? You can see from these questions that there was no place to hide in a Band. and seeking the Power of Godliness. to help them through trials and temptations. and to bring further understanding in practical terms to the messages they had heard preached in the public society meeting. study.The Cell (these were Jesus¶ 12) Purpose: To Bring About Behavioral Change A class was the most basic group structure of the society. that the people of any place should be half-awakened and then left to themselves to fall asleep again. Society: Strand 1 . and marital status. all the same sex.´ 2. mixed by age. This model of training should be no different for those desiring to bring others into a complete understanding and walk in Christ-likeness. There were specific rules about punctuality and order within the meeting. classes. and John) Purpose: To Bring About A Change of Direction. exercise daily and eat sparingly. The Necessity of Leadership in Discipleship: A small army was needed to provide the leadership for this 3-Strand Discipleship Model. social standing and spiritual readiness. ³I am more and more convinced that the devil himself desires nothing more than this. mutual submission where matters of indifference were yielded to the released leader. and sent them out to do the same things. Eighteen months later that same society had 2200 members.The Crowd (these were the multitudes) Purpose: To Bring About A Change in Knowledge This meeting included those in a geographical area. Wesley trained and mobilized a massive army of leaders. under the direction of a trained leader.The CORE (these were Jesus¶ inner circle made up of Peter. age. and to watch over one another in love. They met weekly in the evening for mutual confession of sin and accountability for growing in holiness. professional paid staff simply was not available. The Necessity of Discipleship: John Wesley wrote. divided into 65 classes. and godly stewardship. This group held to extreme confidentiality in a ³safe place´. Heart and Position Composed of 4 members. men and women.

after He thought the disciples had seen and learned enough to try for themselves. Be constantly involved in training others to do the work of making disciples. It can be used by any Christian church as a roadmap and adapted to fit any church expression. release. 3. and bands (core). instructed. Strand 1: Crowd . we also provide resources to assist you in equipping the saints. and supervise model of training.4. Jesus ministered to the multitudes(crowd). Relational. Renew a thrust for evangelism by focusing attention on disciple-making. Core Discipleship Process Simple. united in order to pray together. to receive the word of exhortation. In addition to the model. Make CORE Discipleship a priority for making disciples. After calling the disciples. Our Lord continue to bless you as you intentionally purpose to make disciples. The 3 groups were called societies (multitude). a company of people having the form and seeking the power of godliness. CORE 3-Strand Discipleship Process The CORE discipleship process can be integrated using all 3 strands or by launching a CORE Group. and sent them out to do the same things. Reproducible. 2. the 12 (cell). and to watch over one another in love. tell. and the inner circle of 3 (core). Then. 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. teaching and healing the sick as He went. This discipleship process should be no different for those desiring to bring others into a complete understanding and walk in Christ-likeness. that they might help each other to work out their own salvation. These men and women reformed both the church and the society in which they lived. classes (cells).spirituality and service to others. 4. He took them along with Him. Jesus' 3-Strand Discipleship The most effective manner to train and equip people for any skill is by providing effective models and opportunities to practice the skill itself. Biblical. He commissioned. John Wesley¶s 3-Strand Discipleship In 1743 John Wesley created a 3-strand discipleship model. Holiness and Service as the Goals of Discipleship: Wesley¶s goals for this entire process were: godliness and goodwill . empowered. Jesus used a show. Applications: 1. Consider some adaptation of the 3-Strand Church Model: Crowd + Cell + CORE = Church.

If you wanted to continue in the society you had to be in a class. and to watch over one another in love. social standing and spiritual readiness. This group held to extreme confidentiality in a ³safe place´. It was not a gathering for academic learning. Wesley's band or CORE was made up of 4 members. This was a voluntary group of people who professed a clear Christian commitment. Bands became the training ground for future leaders. study scripture. and godly stewardship. This strand closely resembles today's cell group. makes sense from an organizational standpoint. mutual submission where matters of indifference were yielded to the released leader. typically the large gathering of saints for corporate worship Purpose: To bring about a change in knowledge Focus: celebration . character and conduct Focus: committment discipleship. They met weekly in the evening for mutual confession of sin and accountability for growing in holiness. holiness. However. and has been proven successful for thousands of years. age.knowledge. life group. This group provided the structure to more closely inspect the condition of the flock. There were specific rules about punctuality and order within the meeting. small group. In 1742 in one society in London there were 426 members. as is true of today's corporate church gathering. Wesley's society or crowd group included those in a geographical area. Eighteen months later that same society had 2200 members.fellowship.Size: 50+ people. adapt and integrate a 3-Strand Discipleship Process into their expression. There is a strong case to be made for churches to review. and marital status. He introduced accountability questions which everyone answered openly and honestly in the meeting each week. all the same sex. to help them through trials and temptations. It begins with the Bible. mixed by age. all of whom were in classes. These large groups of people met once a week to pray. much like a typical. and purity of motive. Strand 2: Cell Size: 5-16 people Purpose: To bring about behavioral change. Wesley's class or cell group was the most basic group structure of the society. divided into 65 classes. This was the group that could intensively pursue goals and vision together. Strand 3: CORE Size: 3 or 4 people Purpose: To bring about a change of direction. sing. under the direction of a trained leader. is supported by sociological evidence. etc. The class was composed of 12-20 members. Copyright © 1995-2010 CORE Discipleship . there was little or no provision made at this level for personal response or feedback.worship. both sexes. heart and position. and to bring further understanding in practical terms to the messages they had heard preached in the public society meeting. conduct Focus: community . Every week each class member was expected to speak openly and honestly on the true state of his or her soul. The environment was one of ruthless honesty and frank openness. who desired to grow in love. congregational meeting in today¶s church. Membership in a class meeting was non-negotiable.