Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to Structure the Wesley Small Group Study?

I'm committed to writing this small group study, maybe titling it "Essential John Wesley". But how to structure it? For previous studies I've written, for each lesson I made up a simple sheet, two-sided, a mixture of text and graphics, but not a lot of reading. This seemed to work well. The class had no homework, not much to read. These several were all Bible studies, so relied heavily on the scripture.

Not so with the Wesley study. Obviously the Bible will be a big part, but so will Wesley's writings. My goal is to help the class know Wesley and appreciate how he impacted England for 60 years and the world since then, and how he is important to our religious heritage. So in addition to the Bible, I need to work in some of his writings. But how?

At present, I'm thinking of doing this pretty much like I'm writing Documenting America, but with a twist. For each chapter, maybe 15 to 20 in all, I think I'll have the following.
  1. A short intro (a paragraph) of what the issue at hand is, and what Wesley's contribution was to it.
  2. An excerpt of some one of Wesley's writing. I'll shoot for a mixture of letters, journal, sermons, books, tracts, magazine articles (as I can find them). Typically this will be 400-500 words (longer than for Documenting America), but I would not be opposed to a 1000 word excerpt if that's what it takes to get the point across.
  3. A discussion of the passage, and how that relates to the issue raised in the chapter intro. I may also try to tie this to the Christian life in the 21st century.
  4. Not in Documenting America, I think I will have a series of discussion questions here. For any print version, I'll include space to write answers. For any e-versions, spaces won't be possible, I don't believe, without knowing html and maybe not even then.
That's the plan. I'd like to have the total word count somewhere around 25,000 to 35,000, which doesn't seem too far off some of the small group study books I've seen. That would be 1250 to 2500 words per chapter. I'm not sure all will be equal.

Anyhow, that's what my thinking is right now. I'm in the midst of my research of Wesley's writings, and may change my mind as I go along.

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