In 1741 Phillip Doddridge and a few other ministers put together a few resolutions for the purpose of seeing a revival of religion. Here are their eleven resolutions—modified, modernized, and shortened; but faithful to their original intention:
- Ministers agree to preach on family religion on one Sunday, and secret prayer the next
- Pastoral visiting is to be more solemnly attended to, and greater care in personal inspection should be given. Each minister should take an exact survey of his flock—to know their spiritual state as best as possible.
- Visit every head of a family under our ministerial care at least once per year and solemnly charge them to believe and live out the gospel
- Set up the work of catechizing (diligently minister to the upcoming generation)
- Encourage those that are neglecting church attendance to return
- Practice biblical church discipline
- Create small groups for the purpose of “religious discourse and prayer” of no more than 6-8 people to meet once per week
- Select people from the congregation to head up these small groups. Have all small group leaders meet together once per week and also with the ministers, “to join their counsels and their prayers for the public good”
- Form gospel associations with like-minded ministers so as to “strengthen the hands” of fellow laborers. Have these associations meet together as often as is expedient
- Begin training young men for the ministry
- Consider how to take the gospel to unreached peoples
Looking back at this historically it is amazing how many things that we do now find their origin in these resolutions (and a few others like them). Certainly the modern missions movement is indebted to #11. The rise of small groups and little societies was a new idea at this time as well. It is tremendous thinking about how much was accomplished by these simple resolutions.
I also love the simplicity. It seems that these men had the wild notion that loving people, training children, studying Scripture together, praying together, and having meaningful fellowship with one another was enough to create a revival. I like it.