The Wesleyan Way

If someone claims to be a Christian, it is right to expect them to follow the life of Jesus Christ.

If someone claims to be Wesleyan, it is right to expect them to follow the core values and teaching of John Wesley.

How do we judge what is consistent with the Wesleyan way?

The WESLEYAN WAY has a passion to reach everyone. John Wesley—and those who followed his teaching—made an intentional, often sacrificial effort to spread the Gospel to everyone.  This included the rich and the poor; the free and the imprisoned;  the educated and the uneducated; the old and the young; those in power and those who had no position of influence;  men and women; people from the city and people from the country;  people who were married and people who were not.  The Wesleyan Way  was an open door across ALL distinctions.

The Wesleyan Way was characterized by common ground in the community of faith: we all come together as sinners to experience God’s grace to grow (spiritually, intellectually, and in service) towards perfection with accountability toward our common goal.

The Wesleyan Way emphasized the need for all continuously to receive God’s grace and grow in perfection.   It was not a religious system of those who had “arrived,” excluding others with barriers.  Everyone was accountable to stay close to their own sins and shortcomings and live in love with others who had shortcomings and sins.

The Wesleyan Way is a grace-based faith. If there is one single word to describe the religion of John Wesley, that word is GRACE.  It was a faith practiced in discipline, but Methodism has never been law over grace.

The Wesleyan Way has always been based on a fervor AND careful study of Scripture.  John Wesley was not a literalist (someone who applies every verse literally), and he was absolutely not a selective literalist (someone who picks certain verses to support their own prejudice or pre-conceived idea). John Wesley devoted his life to studying the Scripture.  He used Scripture to admonish and guide and teach.  He did not use the Scripture as a weapon against others.

The Wesleyan Way was energetically creative toward the goal of reaching all with the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.  That often meant creative expressions of accountability  (like the class meetings or field preaching) outside what The Church of England had available.  The Wesleyan Way included approving things beyond culture restraints (like Wesley’s support for the preaching of women) and speaking out against injustices of his day (like slavery).

The Wesleyan Way was an intellectually stimulating, continuously studying, and growing way of life that included vigorous debate.  But the continual admonition of John Wesley was to protect a heart of good will toward anyone who disagrees: “Do not allow yourself one thought of separating from your brothers and sisters whether their opinions agree with yours or not.” 

Whether it was in a theological disagreement or public life or in the life of the congregation, John Wesley put a primacy on loving others and maintaining good will across differences.

Is something Wesleyan?

How might you determine something is Wesleyan? Ask yourself:

  • Do you see a passion to reach EVERYONE?

  • Do you see the humility of recognizing that we are all sinners and the invitation to grow together toward holiness?

  • Is GRACE the distinguishing characteristic?

  • Is Scripture honored by in-depth study, a continual seeking perspective, an application in God-honoring ways?

  • Do you see innovative creativity to reach others—sometimes breaking traditional patterns?

  • Do you see a devotion to speaking out against injustice?

  • Do you see consistent good will toward those who disagree?

If a group or an individual does not bear these life-long characteristics of John Wesley, they may be fine people, but they are not Wesleyan.

Carrilea Potter