“How goes it with your soul?”
Anyone ever ask you that? Probably not. It kinda has an Old English sound to it, doesn’t it? We don’t talk like that. But maybe we should.
That question “How goes it with your soul?” used to be a standard question in our church circles long ago.
An Anglican priest in the 1700s became frustrated with the lack of piety in the church. Piety is also a word we don’t use much, but it is a good one. Piety refers to a practice of religion, but usually not a dead or empty religion. Pious religion flows from a heart and mind that is joyful about loving and serving God. This Anglican priest in England in the 1700s felt that pious expression of discipleship to Jesus was missing in the church of England. His name? John Wesley. Wesley went on to have an encounter with God. He referred to that encounter as a time when his heart was strangely warmed. It changed everything for him. Wesley went on to lead a movement within the Church of England called Methodism.
He never set out to start a new denomination, and in fact he never removed his credentials from the Church of England, but eventually his new group of churches became the Methodist church. It was called Methodist because Wesley created methods for following Jesus. These methods or habits or activities were designed to help people have a pious heart toward God, a true discipleship to Jesus.
One of these methods was the class meeting. A class meeting was basically a house church, a small group of people. Circuit-riding preachers, also called itinerant preachers (itinerant just means “someone who travels from place to place”) would ride on horseback traveling from class meeting to class meeting. Each class meeting had a volunteer leader who would essentially pastor the small congregation, because in many cases the itinerant preacher couldn’t be there every week. That lay leader was called a Class Leader, and they had a famous question they would ask each person.
“How goes it with your soul?” It was an accountability question. The heart behind Wesley’s question was care and concern for all. The class leader cared for the people in his house church and wanted them to maintain a heart and mind and soul that was truly following and loving the Lord. You know what happened? That simple accountability and follow-up helped people grow as disciples of Jesus.
Do any of you feel that you could benefit from someone asking you this question on a regular basis?
When I was in college there was a guy who, almost anytime you saw him, would ask you “How are things going between you and God?” That’s basically the same question.
If you’re tempted to follow a religion free of accountability, perhaps you’ll consider spending some time with Faith Church Sunday morning, May 21, 10am at East Lampeter Community Park. We’re have worship in the park, and we’re going to talk a lot more about Wesley’s important question: “How goes it with your soul?”