United Methodist/Wesleyan Small-Group Resources
By Motoe Yamada Foor
In a recent webinar, “Meet the Director of Adult Discipleship,” the most requested resources had to do with identity—what it means to be United Methodist—with additional requests for adult confirmation class materials and resources for small groups. This response highlights a collective desire to understand and embrace our unique identity as United Methodists. Cokesbury/United Methodist Publishing House gave great suggestions for small groups and Bible studies. Please see the list below.
Discipleship Ministries is developing “Identity Marker” collections of resources that are scheduled to be available next year. These “Identity Markers” will be an expanded and updated collection of resources based on The Meaning of Baptism, The Meaning of Holy Communion, and Our Membership Vows. Our dedicated team at Discipleship Ministries will also be crafting additional materials designed to facilitate meaningful conversations and in-depth studies. These supplemental resources aim to support local church leaders in leading discussions that delve into our shared identity as United Methodists.
At the heart of small-group studies is a commitment to nurturing discipleship and encouraging spiritual growth. We believe that as we gather in small groups, we can learn from one another, share our experiences, and develop a deeper understanding of God's love and grace. The following resources are rooted in the Wesleyan tradition, drawing upon the rich theological heritage of the United Methodist Church. A guideline of how to choose which curriculum can be found here (the short summary is included at the end of the article).
Let us seize this opportunity to explore and engage with these resources, allowing them to shape and enrich our collective journey. By grounding ourselves in our Wesleyan heritage, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the spirit of inclusivity, we can continue to make a positive impact in our communities and the world. May we embrace the call to be United Methodists, united in faith, love, and a shared mission of transforming lives and transforming the world.
A resource developed specifically to answer questions about adult confirmation is Living as United Methodist Christians: Our Story, Our Beliefs, Our Lives by Andy and Sally Langford.
(Being United Methodist Christians: Living a Life of Grace and Hope by Andy Langford, Ann Langford Duncan, and Sally Langford will be published in September 2023.) “Through the study, you will gain insight into The United Methodist Church, its beliefs, and its faith practices.
- Living as United Methodist Christians is ideal for small groups, new member classes, and disciple training classes. It includes six chapters that will help learners hear and claim for themselves the Christian story, particular emphases and beliefs of United Methodists, and ways to live as a United Methodist Christian. Leader and learner helps such as reflection questions are placed near the main text material to which they refer. These helps will stimulate discussion about the reflections or insights participants gain from the material”
Other specifically United Methodist/Wesleyan resources to explore our identity as United Methodists include:
- Unrelenting Grace by Bishop Ken Carter - "We are in a time of transition. We are on the way to a better church. It’s a time of active waiting and patient peacemaking. And we wait with a sense of promise. Don’t be demoralized if the world doesn’t seem to be a very peaceful place. Don’t be downcast if the church reflects the world. Don’t be discouraged if anxiety rules within your heart and confusion pervades your mind” (from Unrelenting Grace.)
- Questions and Answers about The United Methodist Church by Thomas McAnally - “McAnally has revised Questions & Answers About The United Methodist Church to update statistics and information throughout the book, along with new frequently asked questions not in the current edition. This book is a useful guide that answers the most frequently asked questions about the beliefs, practices, and history of The United Methodist Church. The information is brief and is presented in an easy question-and-answer format. It is great for those new to The United Methodist Church or those who want to know more.”
- Five Marks of a Methodist by Steve Harper - “This brief book, suitable for sharing with others, provides a meditation on each of these characteristics. Prayerfully apply them to your journey with Jesus. If you are part of the worldwide Methodist or Wesleyan family, these five marks will grant a greater knowledge and appreciation for why and how you follow Jesus. If you are located in another part of the body of Christ, you can emerge with a solid foundation to keep your spiritual house standing strong. Christians marked by these five habits, when taken together, have character.”
- Five Means of Grace by Elaine Heath - “Wesley showed us ways to reorder our lives through the ‘means of grace.’ Recharge. Reboot. Reorder. Whatever you want to call it, we need a process that helps us continuously renew our relationship with God so that we don’t drift away from our faith. Based on The Wesley Covenant for Renewal, Five Means of Grace is a six-week, video-based study that will show you how to reorder your life through prayer, searching Scripture, receiving the Lord’s Supper, fasting, and conferencing (worshiping together). You’ll learn how to recognize and affirm the outward signs, words, and actions of an invisible divine grace, deepening your relationship with God and making your faith more complete.”
- Three Simple Rules by Bishop Rueben Job - "In Three Simple Rules, Rueben Job offers an interpretation of John Wesley's General Rules for today's readers. For individual reading or group study, this insightful work calls us to mutual respect, unity, and a deeper daily relationship with God. This simple but challenging book looks at three commands, ‘do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.’"
- A Disciple’s Path by Jim Harnish with Justin LaRosa - “A Disciple's Path is an engaging approach to discipleship from a distinctly Wesleyan perspective that is perfect for a new member class or other small group. The six-week program guides individuals to take the next step in discipleship and become dynamic followers of Jesus Christ and engaged, vital members of the local church. The study combines a Wesleyan understanding of our growth in God's love and grace with the time-tested practices of spiritual discipline expressed in the membership vows to uphold the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Participants will develop spiritual practices, discover their unique gifts, and become engaged in ministry that brings transformation in their own lives, the lives of others, and the world.”
- Key United Methodist Beliefs by William Abraham and David Watson - “Deepen your faith and enrich your life through this study of core Methodist beliefs. Written by popular seminary teachers, this book will connect you to the life and ministry of John Wesley, demonstrating relevance for the lives of Christians today as it offers an introductory examination of each.”
- Faith Working Through Love by the Committee on Faith and Order - “Faith Working Through Love invites us to revisit and reclaim essential Christian beliefs and practices as United Methodists. In an easy-to-follow question-and-answer format, the study recaps basic teachings and practices of Christian faith and underscores the core convictions of United Methodists.”
- Don’t Look Back by Bishop Will Willimon - “Hope and help for pastors and congregations who are asking, What now? And What’s next? Some pastors and congregations have managed remarkable innovation, creation of new ministries, courageous pruning of old programs, and rediscovery of core Wesleyan convictions in recent years. Others have experienced a long, slow-motion, downward cycle of loss.”
- Major United Methodist Beliefs by Mack Stokes - “Expresses in simple language what the people of this denomination believe and how they interpret the ageless affirmation of the Bible. Includes study guide, 8 sessions.”
- Available in November: The Methodist Book of Daily Prayer, edited by Matt Miofsky
- Other Wesleyan/UM studies: https://www.cokesbury.com/studies-united-methodistwesleyan?pagenumber=1
“6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Curriculum” For in-depth information about each question, click the links below to read the full articles:
What is the age group? Will adults’ life situations be compatible (such as having young marrieds in a class with older adults)? What experience does the teacher/leader have? Does the resource expect too much or too little preparation or challenge for those who will be leading?
What is the level of participants’ familiarity with the Bible? Does the resource presume a certain level of knowledge of the leader or participant?
What level of experience do participants have with the church as an institution? Does the resource presume insider knowledge of church language and terminology (such as knowing definitions of doctrinal words like grace and salvation or knowing the names of parts of the church building like nave and chancel)?
What is the level of spiritual maturity of group members? Is the resource appropriate and understandable? Can it help participants grow and stretch?
What is the cultural makeup of the group? Is the resource inclusive?
About The United Methodist Publishing House
Founded in 1789 as the Methodist Book Concern, The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) is a publisher and distributor of Christian resources for congregations, clergy, and lay leaders, with primary attention given to the needs of The United Methodist Church. UMPH is a fully self-supporting general agency of The United Methodist Church and receives no general church funds. Its primary publishing imprint is Abingdon Press (abingdonpress.com), and the retail and distribution operations are known as Cokesbury (cokesbury.com).