John Wesley's Small Group Movement as a Model for the Korean Church Renewal


Lee, Se-Hyoung

한국실천신학회 신학과 실천 제21호 2009.11 pp.379-405
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This paper examined John Wesley's small group movement as a model for the renewal of the Korean church today by observing the founding background and content of Wesley's small groups. Wesley's small group movement brought about a spiritual as well as moral awakening and reform to the Church of England and society. Wesley had already experienced the roots of the small group movement known as "society" within the Church of England through his father Samuel and mother Susanna. Afterwards, the small group movement at Oxford, in Georgia and in London and Bristol were followed.
Through the small group movement, Wesley sought to actualize the authentic church found in the New Testament. His small groups were not a method to maintain order of an established church but were living communities of faith. Wesley invited believers who were newly converted through his evangelism into his small groups, maintained personal piety through the mutual care and spiritual formation between members, and by subliming the idea of personal holiness into social sanctification he lead the charge for transformation in the church and society.
The Methodist society had rules and regulations, and also involved spiritual discipline which encouraged the individual to obey each rule by fully giving oneself up to the rule with integrity. The societies, which consisted of classes, developed into the band and select societies, both which demanded for a greater dedication of a leader's spirituality, while those who had fallen behind were gathered in the penitent group, thus allowing all members of the Methodist movement community to maintain a living model of spirituality in their lives.
Such is Wesley's small group movement, which contains several important messages along with tips on small group structures to the Korean church, a church that has allowed its small groups to become lower organizations kept to mainly maintain an institutionalized church. First, that the small group is not an institution but a place of living spiritual transformation; second, the need for the restoration of a structure of mutual care and discipline between members; third, to be a place of personal holiness - which serves the poor- and social sanctification; fourth, to invite lay leadership as partners in ministry and provide opportunities of discipline.


Ⅰ. Foreword
 II. Background of Wesley's Small Group Movement
 III. Wesley’s Small Groups: Society, Class, Band, Select Society,Penitent
 IV. Conclusion


  • Lee, Se-Hyoung Associate Professor of Hyupsung University


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