No, not a marching band, wedding band, head band, or rubber band, but a Wesleyan band. While John Wesley shaped his movement around the required small group idea of a class meeting, there was a deeper option that are just as essential today as they were during the time of Wesley.
What was a band? These were single-gender groups who were fairly similar in their age, life conditions, social standings, and really wanted the accountability of others. Anyone who wanted to join a band had to have sincere responses to tough questions like, “ Do you desire that, in doing this, we should become as close as possible, that we should cut to the quick, and search your heart to the bottom.” or “Is it your desire and design to be on this, and all other occasions, entirely open, so as to speak everything that is in your heart without exception, without disguise, and without reserve.”
The goal was not embarrassment or exclusivity, but emancipation to sin. Maybe a better question, with the same end, comes from Bob Marley, “Could you be love and be loved?”
Although the historical tie to our Wesleyan roots is nice, this idea of sharing with folks close to us is prevalent throughout Scripture. James 5:16 tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” This ability to explore the depths of our faith, to have someone to share in the journey, and participate in confession are critical factors to a healthy and prolonged ministry.
Several years back I spent a year sitting in with our seniors and realized that our core students were needing more than the class meeting we offered. They needed a group who was willing to share how their week was, what they were celebrating, what they were struggling with, and how they could spiritually support one another. They needed a Wesleyan Band.
Bands can be an addition to your student ministry, but read the title again. YOU need a Band! As Jeremy Steele says in Reclaiming the Lost Soul of Youth Ministry, “Ministry can be taxing not just on our time and energy, but on our souls as well. There are moments in my life as a pastor when I realize that every bit of my time has been used on developing others, and I have neglected my own relationship with God. However, those seasons in which I’ve had the gift of being a part of a band, there was a constant reminder to not lose focus on my own spiritual life.”
Yes, you should take some time to consider how to incorporate this Wesleyan practice into your youth ministry. But more importantly, you need to consider how to incorporate this into your personal life because just like my seniors needed more, you do too.
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