John Wesley and the Holy Club’s 22 Questions
The legendary John Wesley was a mere student at Oxford when he and a few friends decided to get hardcore about their faith within a secularizing college context:
“The group met daily from six until nine for prayer, psalms, and reading of the Greek New Testament. They prayed every waking hour for several minutes and each day for a special virtue. While the church’s prescribed attendance was only three times a year, they took communion every Sunday. They fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays until three o’clock as was commonly observed in the ancient church. In 1730, the group began the practice of visiting prisoners in [prison]. They preached, educated, and relieved debtors whenever possible, and cared for the sick.” — UMC.org
The students systematically brought their lives under strict review, with Wesley creating a list of 22 questions that members asked themselves on a daily basis. Their fellow Oxonians wrote them off as religious fanatics and derisively nicknamed them the “Holy Club.” Wesley continued to refine his list of questions for several years, and the nicknames continued: “Bible Moths.” “Enthusiasts.” “Supererogationists.”
The one that stuck was “Methodists.”
Though the Holy Club never grew beyond 25 members, they made quite a global impact:
“John Gambold later became a Moravian bishop. John Clayton became a distinguished Anglican churchman. James Hervey became a noted religious writer. Benjamin Ignham became a Yorkshire evangelist. Thomas Brougham became secretary of the SPCK. George Whitefield, who joined the club just before the Wesleys departed for Georgia, was associated both with the Great Awakening in America and the Evangelical Revival in England.” — Christianity Today
John and his brother Charles Wesley gave their lives to building “Methodist societies” like the Holy Club, and today there are more than 80 million Methodists across 138 nations.
Here are the 22 questions the Holy Club asked themselves every day:
- Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
- Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
- Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
- Can I be trusted?
- Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
- Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
- Did the Bible live in me today?
- Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
- Do I pray about the money I spend?
- Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
- Do I disobey God in anything?
- Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
- How do I spend my spare time?
- Am I proud?
- Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
- Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
- Do I grumble or complain constantly?
- Is Christ real to me?
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