The Class Meeting was hampered by the disregard for the law of temperamental and spiritual affinities. Too frequently, the classification of persons into classes was arbitrary. They weren’t asked about their preferences. A different leader alienated and discouraged souls that might have flourished under his or her leadership.
A woman in Savannah declared, “I won’t go to class meetings any longer unless I can join another Class. “My husband whips the entire class over my shoulders since they placed me in his class. I cannot tolerate it.”
She was accurate. Although the husband and wife were both nice people, they each had unique personality traits that made it wiser for them to belong to distinct social strata. For other women, he was a good class leader, but not for his wife.
A severe and callous individual is not at all appropriate for the position of class leader. However, it is particularly foolish to put a man of this sort in charge of a class of young people. This was frequently done, and the outcome was to turn the young disciple away from a necessary grace-giving method.
After Brother J’s Sunday morning sermon, a shy, sensitive woman who had just joined the church was persuaded to come. It was her first time attending a class meeting; she had not been raised as a Methodist. Brother J was a decent man, but he had a stern appearance, thick, furrowed brows, and a loud, harsh voice. He thundered the inquiry, fixing his attention on her as she sat half-wondering, half-frightened.
Do you ever pray, sister?
“Sure, sir! indeed, sir! “In a panic, she yelled, partly rising from her seat.
The following day, she told her pastor, “I will never go to another Class-meeting; I was never more afraid in my life.”
In another Class with a different type of leader, the pastor explained, she flourished, was content, and developed a passionate love for class meetings.
The young converts were placed in a Class at the location of one of our premier colleges following a revival in which many of the more seasoned students were received into the Church, and a leader was chosen to oversee them. He had good intentions, but his syntax was quite poor—exactly the area where many young Freshmen and Sophomores are prone to be the most critical. Of course, that plan fell apart, and another took over—not a better Christian, but a better grammarian—and everything got back to normal.
After the morning service, a class meeting was held in the same town to accommodate the country members. It was given the direction of a college professor, a young guy who was distant, bookish, and dogmatic. When he spoke about spiritual matters, both “objective” and “subjective,” and the development of various soul faculties in accordance with psychological rules, he caused those simple old Methodists to look on in amazement. In that class meeting, there were no yells or “Amens.” Their harps were removed from the willows, and there was great rejoicing when a brother with sound judgment, a passionate heart, a ready utterance, and the gift of music was placed in charge of the Class. From that point on, that Class flourished.
An amicable, shiftless, outspoken brother who was perpetually in debt and who owed the majority of the brethren committed to his spiritual control was given responsibility of a Class made up of of the town’s most inspiring and prosperous businessmen. The nice brother didn’t appear to be in the least bit embarrassed in front of his creditors because he had grown accustomed to it over time and nearly believed that being in debt was the natural state of a pious man, but it was clear that they disregarded him. They had a hard time accepting the idea that a brother who was so careless in earthly affairs could be a reliable counselor in spiritual ones. The pastor decided that the Class’s leadership needed to be changed.
These examples highlight my point. Regard for mutual adaptation is required in both the Class-leadership and the Subpastorate, just as it is in the Pastorate.