Adams Chapel AME Church
The CLASS System
by Pastor Jacques Days
The class system is small group ministry, Methodist style. John and Charles Wesley helped to organize Christian societies as small groups of believers which were intended to foster personal accountability, discipleship, and Christian education. While bands had already begun to meet, John Wesley drew up rules for these in December 1738. The class system was started sometime in 1742 by band leader, Captain Foy, who asked that 11 members be grouped with him so that he could pay the dues of those who could not afford to pay for themselves. The bands and classes started by the Wesleys attracted thousands of people who were hungry for spiritual growth. These small group ministries helped believers to grow and mature to be good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). This ministry, upon which many small group and cell group ministries are based today, fulfilled the biblical instructions given through Paul for developing true Christian community. The principles upon which these ministries are based can help us to be vibrant and transformative communions within our local and world communities.
At Adams Chapel, we have sought to encapsulate the meaning of our small groups with an acronym of CLASS expanded to Christian Leaders Arming Spiritual Soldiers. As always, our desire is to build our ministries on the foundation of the Holy Scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, we find the basis of these small groups in the pages of scripture:
Psalm 25:14; Proverbs 3:32, Romans 8:16, Galatians 4:6, 1 John 5:10
Galatians 6:1–2 (James 5:16)
Romans 15:1, Galatians 5:13, 6:10, Ephesians 12:19, 1 Thessalonians, 5:14, Hebrews 6:10
Ephesians 5:21(Hebrews 10:24)
Philippians 2:3, 1 Peter 5:5
Moreover, we join a movement of ministry established and supported by our forefathers in the faith. The connectional body of the AME church has thus been enjoined to employ this tool of ministry which can be powerfully used to admonish one another, bear the burdens of another, restore each other, pray with others, and in other ways to provoke one another to engage in godly love and good works.
AME Book of Doctrine and Discipline 2008 pp 39-41, 71-72
The Class System at Adams Chapel is being used to foster small group ministry, to encourage opportunity for intimate training, sharing, confession, accountability, and encouragement. Our desire is to allow the Lord to use this ministry to give believers an opportunity to help one another in difficulty, to provide biblical precepts for resolving problems and dilemma, to offer godly counsel and guidance, and to assist a fallen brother or sister through the painful process of restoration. In short, we want to minister to one another in a small group setting in order to foster Christlike behavior and to challenge unbiblical choices. In so doing, we want to offer members of our groups an opportunity for God to change their lives. Then we want to empower them to move under the influence of the Holy Spirit so that they can change their circumstances and ultimately change their world.