Smaller Advices for Early Methodist Preachers

In the 1784 edition of the Discipline (as well as a number of subsequent editions), which includes the list of Rules for Preachers, also includes a list of “smaller advices which might be of use to us.”

Here’s the list (with original, archaic spellings) …

  1. Be sure never to disappoint a congregation.
  2. Begin at the Time appointed.
  3. Let your whole deportment before the Congregation be serious, weighty, and solemn.
  4. Always suit your subject to your Audience.
  5. Chuse the plainest Text you can.
  6. Take Care not to ramble, but keep to your Text, and make out what you take in Hand.
  7. Take Care of anything aukward or affected, either in your Gesture, Phrase, or Pronunciation.
  8. Print nothing without the Approbation of the Conference and one of the Bishops.
  9. Do not usually pray extempore above eight or ten minutes (at most) without intermission.
  10. Frequently read and enlarge upon a Portion of the Notes; and let young Preachers often exhort without taking a Text.
  11. Always avail yourself of the great Festivals by preaching on the Occasion.
  12. Be courteous to all.

Observations: I’m not sure what is meant by “Be sure never to disappoint a congregation,” since disappointing people goes with the territory of leadership. Also not sure I agree that “your whole deportment” should “be serious, weighty, and solemn,” but that probably has something to do with the cultural change since the list was composed in the 1700s.

The advice to “Always suit your subject to your audience” struck because it was written long before modern-day emphasis on being “seeker sensitive” and offering “culturally relevant preaching.”

What do you like and/or dislike about this list?

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