Questions for reflection
Below are two sets of suggested questions to encourage reflection – perhaps in a small group, a Local Preachers’ Meeting, or as part of a facilitated discussion at a coffee morning.
The first set relates directly to the Ministry in the Methodist Church report to the 2018 Conference, which can be read in full here.
For these questions, it would be helpful for everyone taking part in the discussion to have the opportunity to read the report in advance. For question 9, it would also be helpful for people to have sight of the relevant pages from The Methodist Worship Book in advance.
The second set draws on the report, but is not dependent on people having sight of it. However, it would be helpful for people to have sight of the material in What does the Methodist Church believe about ministry?
Questions for reflection (1) – relating to the ‘Ministry in the Methodist Church’ report to the 2018 Conference:
- What is your understanding of the word ‘ministry’? Are there particular Methodist emphases that you would want to re-affirm? (see Part B, Section 1)
You might like to play a game of ‘word association’ with words such as ministry, minister, vocation, priesthood and service, to illustrate the range of understandings in your context.
- How does our understanding of God shape our understanding of ministry? What does it mean for us as God’s people to be ‘set apart’? (see Part B, Section 2)
- In your experience, how has the Methodist Church responded to changes in culture and its wider contexts in its understanding of mission and ministry? What have been the greatest challenges? (see Part B, Section 3)
You might like to use newspapers to hold a discussion of some of the challenges and opportunities of our 21st century contexts, and how the Church is (or isn’t) responding.
- Is the language of the ‘common priesthood of the faithful’ helpful or not? What other way would you describe the ministry of the whole people of God? (see Part B, Section 4)
- How are you helped by your church to discover and fulfil your calling as a disciple of Christ in your daily life and work? (see Part B, Section 4)
Depending on the setting, you might like to make space for people to share a little about what their daily life and work looks like – perhaps using the framework of ‘This Time Tomorrow.’
- The Methodist Church is both a missional movement and a structured human organisation. In your experience, has there been a tension between these two realities? What changes would help the Church to be better shaped and organised for mission? (see Part B, Section 5)
- John Wesley encouraged the Methodist people to ‘watch over’ one another in love. How does this happen in your church? (see Part B, Section 6)
- Think through the different ways that your church recognises, affirms, celebrates, authorises and commissions different ministries (eg through an annual commissioning service for pastoral visitors). Why is this? Who is missed out and how could their ministries be recognised and affirmed too? (see Part B, Section 7)
- Read the ordination liturgies for presbyters and deacons (The Methodist Worship Book, p. 302 and 316). What does this tell you about the Methodist Church’s understanding of (ordained) ministry? (see Part B, Section 7)
- In Part C you will find a list of pressing issues that the Methodist Church needs to address. What other issues would you want to add to that list?
Questions for reflection (2):
- What do you see as ‘your’ ministry? Is it exercised predominantly in the Church, or outside it? If the latter, is it done ‘in the name of the Methodist Church’? If not, how do you feel the Church supports you in your ministry (if at all)?
- With regard to ‘Our Calling’ – in which of the four areas do you see ‘your’ ministry as being rooted? With regard to the four areas, what do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of your local church and the Methodist Church more widely?
- What do you understand by ‘the ministry of the whole people of God’?
- Are there things the Methodist Church has said in the past about ministry that you have found particularly helpful (or unhelpful) and that we need to remember? Are there areas we could helpfully revisit or reconsider instead?