Our Foundational Doctrine
The Book of Discipline, which has been described as a covenant or set of laws for the denomination, outlines a shared way of life for United Methodists. Within the Discipline is a set of foundational documents, or doctrinal standards, that give us direction and enables us to stand together as disciples of Jesus Christ. What does a lived-out doctrine look like in today’s world? How can our differences spur conversation and draw us deeper into discipleship?
(Exploring these assignments before the meeting is particularly important for this session.)
- Articles: “United Methodist Foundational Documents” on The United Methodist Church’s website provide the “basics” that define United Methodism. Follow the links on the page to explore: The Articles of Religion; Confession of Faith; and the General Rules of the Methodist Church.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:3-14
Small Group Session Agenda
Holy Creator: fervently You have called us into Your church and have placed us upon the sure foundation of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By water and the Word, You’ve made us a new creation. Thank You for the gift of one another. Strengthened by the power of Your Holy Spirit and united with disciples of every time and place, we are here. Guide us through Your words of life in and beyond our time together. Enable us to respond faithfully to Your calling and rest secure in Jesus. Bless our conversations and our actions in the Name of Your Son and our Savior, we pray. Amen.
In the gift of this moment, we affirm that we are divinely loved and lovable.
We are the children of God.
Together, we will learn from the actions and words of one another.
Christ’s lessons on love are centered in how we treat others and in how we treat ourselves.
We will exercise courage in this study as we share stories of struggle and strength.
We will stay at the table and receive those stories with grace.
We will not be afraid to launch into the deep.
We will commit to the vulnerability necessary to allow God to break us open.
We will set and respect boundaries and honor confidentiality together.
When uncertainty arises, we will remember the Spirit of “peace that passes our own understanding” and can intercede for us.
We will remember that even when we don’t feel “United,”
The uniting love of Christ can reveal a pathway to greater
wisdom and mutual respect.
No matter what, there is a place for each one of us in this study together.
Let us hold each other up in prayer, hold each other accountable in love, and
trust that our God is making all things new.
Thank you for the gift of being present to one another in this holy time.
Video with the Rev. Mark Gorman
Rev. Gorman is pastor of Centre UMC in Forest Hill, Md., and chairs the Rules Committee of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
Head & Heart Discussion
- In what ways does the Book of Discipline influence your personal understanding of what it means to be a United Methodist?
- The denomination’s foundational documents, or doctrinal standards, point to a shared way of life. If you were writing these documents, what would be essential to include as you define what it means to be United Methodist?
- In the video, Rev. Gorman says, “Our differences ... are meant to spur conversation and discussion, and not just set us apart from other Christians.” When we have disagreements about rules in the Book of Discipline, how do we faithfully engage one another in love?
BEYOND THIS SESSION
Prayer and Pathway to Journaling
- What surprised you or caught your attention?
- How does the discussion we had apply to your life, your church, our denomination?
- Where is the Spirit revealing to you areas for growth and transformation?
- How does what we talked about transform your relationship with God and others?
- Write a prayer to ask for God’s support and enlightenment, which applies what you learned, and then go forth and live it.
- Book: Bid Our Jarring Conflicts Cease by David N. Fields. Fields moves beyond the frequently quoted wisdom of Wesley to explore his ideas of holiness and diversity, and how the church can move forward with a greater love.
- Article: “Organization: The Church as Connection.” Read more about how United Methodism is a connectional church.
- Movie: Just Mercy, 2019
- Hymn: The Church’s One Foundation #545
- John Wesley Sermon: Paraphrased and excerpted below from John Wesley, “Thoughts Upon Methodism,” 1786, in Works [vol. 13; Jackson edition, 1879], 258; emphasis added.