The conversation from my brief post about the early Methodist class meeting has caused me to think about resources that deal with the early Methodist practice of watching over one another in love. Here are some of the ones I consider to be the best:
David Lowes Watson The Early Methodist Class Meeting: Its Origins and SignificanceAmong Wesley scholars this is the book that is usually cited related to the history of the early Methodist class meeting. Watson discusses, as the subtitle indicates, the origins and significance of the class meeting. The primary value of this book, in my view, is that it was the first in depth academic exploration of a piece of the Methodist organizational structure. It helped moved scholarship beyond passing references to the importance of the class meeting and began to actually look at it in its own right.
D. Michael Henderson A Model for Making Disciples: John Wesley’s Class MeetingAs I remember it when I read this book a few years ago, this is an easier read than Watson’s book. It also seems that it is currently being read by a wider audience (especially if the current amazon ranks of each book are any indication… though these can fluctuate quite a bit). To be fair, Watson’s Early Methodist Class Meeting is not necessarily intended to appeal to a lay audience.
Steve Manskar Accountable Discipleship: Living in God’s HouseholdManskar takes a bit broader approach, focusing on the importance of accountable discipleship more generally, with roughly one third of the book focusing specifically on the distinctly Methodist approach to discipleship. In part, Accountable Discipleship also seeks to flesh out the rationale for Covenant Discipleship Groups, more on that below. (Manskar is also the director of Accountable Discipleship at the General Board of Discipleship and blogs at Accountable Discipleship.)
Finally, David Lowes Watson’s adaptation of the early Methodist class meeting was Covenant Discipleship. He developed his understanding of Covenant Discipleship in a trilogy. (I am sorry to say that you probably won’t find it to be a page turn in the same way that this trilogywas.) The books in the trilogy are Covenant Discipleship: Christian Formation Through Mutual Accountability; Class Leaders: Recovering a Tradition; and Forming Christian Disciples: The Role of Covenant Discipleship and Class Leaders in the Congregation.
Probably the most accessible book that explains what Covenant Discipleship is and how to do it is Gayle Turner Watson’s Guide for Covenant Discipleship Groups
I will try to add these to the Wesleyan resources page in the next few days.
Meanwhile, are there any resources I neglected to mention related to the Methodist practice of watching over one another in love?