4 Reasons John Wesley Matters to Your Youth Ministry

Do you care about your youth ministry enough to ride a horse for 250,000 miles?! One Anglican minister, roughly 300 years ago, cared enough. That man was John Wesley, who accidentally started Methodism. Here are four reasons his ideas matter to youth ministry.

John Wesley

1) Go Out!

Wesley made his name by leaving the ornate pulpits of his time to preach large revival series in the fields to common folks. Later in life he began ordaining his own preachers because he didn’t want to wait for the Church of England to allow colonial Americans to take communion (note: DO NOT begin ordaining your own ministers, please). John Wesley was focused on helping people get connected to Christ, and he didn’t wait for them to come to church.

Wesley relentlessly pursued the overlooked and the lost. The world was his parish.

..above all, remember Wesley’s three simple rules:
do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.

2) Bring Together!

Another revival preacher, George Whitefield, was a contemporary of Wesley. As Whitefield reflected on his own ministry, he said: “Wesley acted wisely (his converts joined groups)-—this I neglected, and my people are a rope of sand.” Wesley would not ride in to town and preach if there were no small groups there. Wesley knew that the big event would never produce lasting spiritual change. Long-term, relationship-focused small groups did that.

Wesley’s idea of salvation and Christian living was tied to small groups.

3) Show Grace

Wesley rejected the idea that sin had completely cut us off from God. Prevenient grace is the term he used for the work of the Spirit that draws people to recognize and connect with God before they are believers.

We Methodists baptize infants. Before they know how to believe, when they only know about milk and sleep, we baptize them. We recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in every person’s life; even before they have the capacity to recognize it themselves—, even if they never recognize it.

Wesley talked about justifying grace as the work of the Holy Spirit that draws us into a conscious relationship with God through Christ, a kind of short hand for “believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior.” But it didn’t stop at that.

Sanctifying grace was the term Wesley used to describe the way the Holy Spirit continually shapes our lives to make us live and love more like Christ.

Grace starts before we are aware, and continues on until we die.

4) Expect Works

The central theme of Wesley’s preaching was grace, there is no question about that. However, for believers, Wesley placed a strong emphasis on holy living. Wesley was a vegetarian teetotaler who believed that the power of the Holy Spirit could help a Christian to live in perfect love.

Wesley expected the lives of Christian disciples to be marked by personal and social holiness.

Now Build a Movement!

Go get kids connected to Christ, find teenagers no one is looking for, who don’t care about your programs.

Don’t let your teenagers live their faith alone, get them connected to accountability and community. Preach grace and look for it in kids before they see it themselves. Encourage your kids to live in perfect Christ-like love.

And above all, remember Wesley’s three simple rules: do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.

About the Author: Tyler Fuller
The only job I have ever pursued is vocational ministry. I spent over a decade doingtyler fuller Young Life and church Youth Ministry. I am now the Missions Pastor at a mega church in the panhandle of Florida (who still gets to work with youth every day!)