I just spent this afternoon brainstorming with the minister of discipleship in my local congregation. We are in the process of developing a holistic program for spiritual formation to begin this fall. Already our spiritual formation team has determined six general areas that need to be covered: Scripture, beliefs, worship & sacraments, daily life, living mission and United Methodism. We believe that every member of our United Methodist congregation needs to develop an understanding of these six areas. Therefore, we need to make sure that our congregation regularly teaches each of these areas at some point during the year.
Ideally each Sunday school class will cover each area, as will the preaching, during the course of the year. The task of our discipleship team, minister and team chair (myself) is to determine other programs to supplement the preaching and Sunday school classes. Not every person is in a Sunday school class and not every class is as effective in addressing all six areas.
Today, we began our work by considering the person new to this congregation and perhaps new to faith. People in this context need a program that answers the question of who we are as Christians, as United Methodists and as members of this local congregation. The program will need to prepare persons to make a decision on whether to join the congregation and perhaps even to make a profession of faith.
Yes, there are plenty of resources that provide guidance for this type of program. We will likely tap several of them either for this initial course or at some other point in our calendar. However, our goal is to present the uniqueness of our congregational context while also paying attention to the needs of those who pass through our doors. In this manner, we will fulfill the mission of the United Methodist Church “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”