A time of spiritual decline in the Church was accompanied by the decline of the Class-meeting, just as the period of the Church’s greatest spirituality was also the period of the Class-meetings’s greatest force. An uninterested church member would not welcome such a method of grace. A man without any stories to share will stay away from a location where religious experience is the primary focus. “Experience-meetings have taken place throughout the Church’s history, according to Dr. Summers. The pious heart yearns for companionship, and when the spiritual life impulses exist, they will look for and discover growth.” However, this need disappears when the spiritual life’s impulses are lost. The carnal mind only seeks out other carnal associations and enjoys them. 

Let’s encourage one another, especially as the day draws closer, rather than forgoing our regular gatherings as others do. “Let us consider one another to urge unto love and to good, works.” The apostle urges this means of grace as a safeguard against being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and as an encouragement in the performance of duty. He uses the language of a Methodist Classmeeting to describe its characteristics, including “meeting together, watchful oversight of each other, and mutual exhortations.” The loss of Christian zeal is always accompanied by a neglect of Christian fellowship. The fact that there are no attendees at the weekly prayer meeting is a serious accusation. While the spiritually inclined will seek out the class gathering, the backslidden and the backsliding will most likely avoid it because it more directly searches the heart and reveals its propensity. The Church’s worldliness and lack of discipline increased visibly at the same time as the Class Meeting’s downfall. The doctrinal bar was reduced, and the Church’s practices followed suit. Numerous witnesses, both living and dead, attest to this reality. The class meeting left when the theater, the ball, and the card table entered. People could not be expected to gather to discuss religion when the world occupied their minds. As the Classmeeting was the natural result of revitalized New Testament Christianity, it was left stranded on the shores of worldliness when that revival waned. The day of the class meeting was over, and it was now the day of formal written sermon essays, quartette choirs, and chilly gentility. A heavenly light was extinguished. A witnessing Church’s voice was muffled. The voice was muffled, but not entirely, and neither was the light. The holy fire was still burning intermittently, and living voices that wouldn’t be silenced spoke of God’s grace as well as exhorted, consoled, and edified his people. The class meeting went on as planned. It will never perish. However, it has endured a protracted illness and has been victimized by both allies and foes.

By Nathan Zipfel

Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene Pastor of the New Life Church of the Nazarene in Boswell, PA. Batchelor of Arts Pastoral Leadership, Nazarene Bible College Master of Arts, Ministry, Ohio Christian University Master of Social Work, Indiana Wesleyan University Behavioral Health Therapist

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