Wesley’s historic questions have been asked of those considered for full connection (ordination) since as early as 1784, the first Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, presided over by Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke. The questions also have a broader Wesleyan context. Many of these questions were originally used with the people Wesley called “Helpers,” lay men and women to whom Wesley gave responsibility for leadership in the Methodist societies. They were class leaders, stewards, local preachers and traveling preachers. The questions addressed topics Wesley believed to be essential for persons responsible for leading others in discipleship and mission in the world.
The 19 Questions to Kindle a Wesleyan Spirit covers topics from faith in Christ to spiritual practices to debt. The questions around commitment to the rules of the Church have a contemporary urgency in this season of division. Building from her blog on the 19 Questions, Are You Going On To Perfection, at www.artofholiness.com, Carolyn Moore, Founding and Lead Pastor of Mosaic Church in Evans, Georgia, thoughtfully unpacks each question in a historical and personal way.
A great question has power. A question mark is almost like a trowel. It dips into the soil of our hearts and churns up latent feelings or beliefs we didn’t even know were there. A great question can stop us in our tracks and change our perspective. Good answers fix problems in the short-term. Good questions have the power to create lasting change. Great questions can change a worldview.
The following three paragraphs are from the introduction to Moore’s book:
Asking good questions was a technique John Wesley used. A devout student of “The Book,” surely he learned that skill from the best of the best.
The questions his Holy Club asked and answered were designed to expose the souls of those who participated in weekly accountability, and those questions still have power to expose our weaknesses and call us to account for making spiritual progress. Wesley developed similar avenues for accountability in the Methodist class and band meetings, which also used questions to help people grow in faith.
Beyond those accountability questions in the Holy Club and in class and band meetings, Wesley developed nineteen other questions to probe the hearts and motives of potential Methodist preachers. These questions have had a kind of staying power. Since 1773, pastors in the United Methodist tradition have answered these nineteen historic questions as a way of agreeing to how we will live into this ministry life. Candidates for ordination examine these questions and prepare to answer them at the Annual Conference during which they are ordained (The Book of Discipline 2016, ¶¶330 and 336, pp. 257-258 and 270-271). It is the beginning point of our connection.
Moore’s book is part of the Faultlines collection, resources intended to inform conversations around human sexuality and the church.
By Carolyn Moore
The 19 Questions to Kindle a Wesleyan Spirit can be purchased by clicking HERE.