Ask the UMC: What 'methods' might Methodists use?

Methodists use "methods" to practice spiritual growing in the same way Jesuits use "exercises." Can you tell me a method Methodists might use?

The “method” of Methodism is shaped by the Methodist rule of life, known as the General Rules. Click here to learn about the General Rules.

The Methodist rule of life is simple and practicable. It is intended by John Wesley to help Christians obey Jesus’ teachings, summarized by him in the Great Commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. … and You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Methodists were helped to live the Christian life, shaped by the General Rules, when they met weekly in their small group, known as a “class” or “class meeting.”

The Classes were 12-15 Methodists, men and women, with the guidance and role model of their class leader. The class leader was a layman or laywoman who was a mature disciple of Jesus Christ and whom the leaders of the Methodist society believed could be trusted with guiding others in the pursuit of holiness of heart and life. When the class met, the leader always began by giving his or her response to the question, “How does your soul prosper?” Today we rephrase the question: “How is it with your soul?” The class meeting was also how Methodists followed Jesus’ “new commandment” to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34-35).

Their account was shaped by how their life was guided by the General Rules. After they shared how they followed Jesus’ teachings in the world during the week, the group prayed for him or her and then sang a hymn. This process was repeated for each member of the class.

Today this “method” of Methodism is adapted in Covenant Discipleship groups and the General Rule of Discipleship: “To witness to Jesus Christ in the world and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

Learn more about Covenant Discipleship.

— Rev. Steve Manskar, Director of Wesleyan Leadership, Discipleship Ministries

Get Your Spirit in Shape: Everyday Disciples

The method of early Methodism: The Oxford Holy Club


Have questions? Ask the UMC. And check out other recent Q&As.

This content was produced by InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.

First published February 21, 2017.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE
General Conference
Spare voting machines rest on a table at the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Ask The UMC: How are decisions made at General Conference?

General Conference is the highest legislative body in The United Methodist Church. It usually convenes once every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction.
Theology and Education
Clockwise from top left: Detail from Butyka Mausoleum by Globetrotter19, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; stained glass window by Kathleen Barry, UM News; Bible and cross by Mike DuBose, UMNS; detail of aanchor and two fish courtesy of Catacombe Domitilla; the Rev. George Miller by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Ask The UMC: Why do missionaries wear an anchor cross?

When missionaries are commissioned for service, an anchor cross is placed around their necks, as a symbol of their call to mission service.
Evangelism
World map, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Ask The UMC: Is The UMC in Canada, Australia, Latin America, Asia?

Get a history lesson about the Methodist presence in these parts of the world.