A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day #2 of Hosting the Wesleyan Institute

From left to right, Steve Manskar, Paul Chilcote, & Daniel Flores gave presentations on what it means to make disciples of Jesus Christ the United Methodist way. Sandra King Shaw, a layperson at the historic Asbury UMC in D.C. served today as a panel moderator and will be sharing a presentation tomorrow morning. Here's a quick summary of each of the presentations:

Paul Chilcote
  • Charles Wesley expressed the Methodist way through his hymns and they focused on 1) Trust in Christ 2) Transformation through Christ 3) the Combining of Faith and Life.
  • What is particular about the United Methodist way? 1) Faith: We are both/and and not either/or. For example, we emphasize piety AND social action, physical AND spiritual, Word AND Sacrament, Evangelical AND an emphasis on the Eucharist (Holy Communion.) 2) Our view of salvation: We see repentance as the porch. Justification as the door. Sanctification as the house. Salvation isn't just about a particular moment. It's about our lives becoming holy as Christ is holy and this is a life-long journey!
  • Some other distinctive focuses of United Methodists: 1) A saving faith 2) An inclusive embrace 3) An active love.

Daniel Flores

  • Dan focused on the Holy Spirit and the United Methodist way.
  • John Wesley is known for the phrase, "Religion of the Heart." A religion of the heart is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit to empower us to offer the reconciliation we have received through Christ to others.
  • The Methodists were known as "enthusiasts" because of their experiences in receiving God's healing (physical & emotional) and wanting to share their faith with others.
  • An early Methodist, Phoebe Worrell believed that to be sanctified didn't necessarily mean you had to wait a long time for it. We should simply receive God's grace and live out our faith now!

Steve Manskar

  • The early Methodists were known for two books: 1) the Bible and 2) the Book of Discipline.
  • The word discipline today often does not convey its early Methodist meaning. For the early Methodists, discipline meant how we are to live out our faith in practical ways for the transformation of the world.
  • Wesley believed that small groups were the best way to help Methodists stay disciplined in living as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
  • Wesley provided small groups to meet a variety of needs. Some were for anyone to attend to learn about the Christian faith. Other groups were designed for the more spiritually mature. Some small groups were for those who were training to be leaders within the early Methodist movement.
  • A typical Methodist small group met weekly on Thursdays for an hour or two to hold one another accountable in 1) Doing no harm 2) Doing good and 3) Loving God and keeping the ordinances of God.
  • Wesley saw small groups as the muscle of the church with holiness as the ultimate goal for each Christian.

Interesting tidbit: One of our volunteers who worked at the registration table figured out that of the registratants for the Wesleyan Institute, 52% are clergy and 48% are laity. That's a great balance!

I'll have a final summary tomorrow following the 3rd and final day of the Wesleyan Institute.

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