13 October 2005

New book encourages Methodists to "talk of God”

A new book from The Methodist Church aims to encourage Methodists and other Christians to renew their ability to talk about God. The book, based on a report that was enthusiastically received by the Methodist Conference earlier this year, was written by the Discipleship and Church Membership Working Group.

Time to Talk of God, subtitled Recovering Christian conversation as a way of nurturing discipleship, is aimed at ordinary Christians. The book honestly addresses the reasons why Christians can find it hard to talk about their faith, and how easy it is for churches and congregations to develop habits that make Christian conversation hard.

Janet Morley, Convenor of the working group that produced the report, says, 'Methodism has a rich history of deepening discipleship through direct and honest conversation, but somewhere along the line we have lost the knack of doing so. We produced a report for Conference that was willing to discuss our weakness and to develop ways to help people regain their confidence. But we wanted the book to be a rich, vibrant resource that people will enjoy reading even while it challenges and encourages them.'

The richly-illustrated book contains group and individual exercises, prayers, Bible passages and practical guides to shifting church culture so that talking to each other about God is easier and more natural. This resource, says Janet Morley 'starts a stage back from evangelism. It is about how we talk - and listen - to each other about the things that matter most. How shall we be confident in sharing our faith more widely if we never have these conversations among church members? And what sort of church will genuine seekers encounter if we are embarrassed to discuss the spiritual questions that motivate them?'

The 2005 Methodist Conference loved the report. It chimed exactly with one of the themes of current President of the Conference, the Revd Tom Stuckey, who asked in his inaugural address 'what happened to theology, to thinking and speaking about God?' Methodist Youth President Chris Cornell told Conference 'Wow! Finally, we are talking about God!' The Revd Peter Stephens told Conference members 'this is the first Conference report in 30 years of which I can simply say: it did me good to read it.'

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