New book encourages Methodists to "talk of God”

A new book from The Methodist Church aims to encourageMethodists and other Christians to renew their ability to talkabout God. The book, based on a report that was enthusiasticallyreceived by the Methodist Conference earlier this year, was writtenby the Discipleship and Church Membership Working Group.

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

Janet Morley, Convenor of the working group that produced thereport, says, 'Methodism has a rich history of deepeningdiscipleship through direct and honest conversation, but somewherealong the line we have lost the knack of doing so. We produced areport for Conference that was willing to discuss our weakness andto develop ways to help people regain their confidence. But wewanted the book to be a rich, vibrant resource that people willenjoy reading even while it challenges and encourages them.'

The richly-illustrated book contains group and individualexercises, prayers, Bible passages and practical guides to shiftingchurch culture so that talking to each other about God is easierand more natural. This resource, says Janet Morley 'starts a stageback from evangelism. It is about how we talk - and listen - toeach other about the things that matter most. How shall we beconfident in sharing our faith more widely if we never have theseconversations among church members? And what sort of church willgenuine seekers encounter if we are embarrassed to discuss thespiritual questions that motivate them?'

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