When John Raised the Bar

I’m amazed by John Wesley.

But not for the normal things.  Not for his character, commitment to Christ, preaching ability, or anything like that.  I’m amazed that he wrote down what he expected his congregation to sound like.

Back in the day (late 18th century England), you only probably had a few books in your house.  Unless you were rich.  Most of those books stayed in your house.  Because of the cost of printing, books were priceless and even regarded as heirlooms.

Only 2 books ever left your house: your family Bible and a family hymnal (if you were lucky enough to own one).  They only left on Sunday.  They were precious to you.  In the front of your Bible was a family list or a rough genealogy.  If you belonged to one of Wesley’s churches, you’d find another list inside front cover of your hymnal – a list of directives.

These weren’t optional.

These weren’t a suggestion.

This is how John Wesley saw worship.


Imagine what it would be like to worship in Wesley’s church.  Give this some thought.  I mean, how gutsy is this?  Because you and I live in an era of passing worship fads, we might be tempted to believe that Wesley is slightly out of date.  But I’m not so sure.

A few questions:

  1. Do any of the above points rub you wrong?  Care to share why?
  2. Do any illicit an inaudible “amen” from you?  Why?
  3. Would you add anything?

Mr. Wesley, I’m sending a high-five your way.  Thanks for raising the bar, brother.


4 thoughts on “When John Raised the Bar

  1. I think I’m kind of on the fence about this.. you’re definitely right about him being gutsy, and props to him for raising the standard. But I’m not so sure that I would welcome every one of those guidelines into my church. Some of them just don’t seem necessary for proper worship.. what do you think?

    • Agreed. To me, that’s the compelling thing – some of Wesley’s points seem a bit tight, while others still resound fairly well. If you had to choose a few, which ones would you keep and which would you toss out?

  2. Audible “Amen” to John Wesley’s list. I know not all points work in today’s church, but there are some old hymns that need to be sung as written and according to his list. Thanks Brannon for posting!

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