A Methodist Way of Life when a local church closes
Prepared by Andy Fishburne, Discipleship and Faith Formation Officer

Many of our smaller churches are undergoing a transition from being a self-governing local church towards being in association with a neighbouring church. This is intended to relieve the burdens of trusteeship and release members for mission.

Through what may be a painful period of readjustment, a Methodist Way of Life is a tool to help hang on to the core essentials of being a disciple of Jesus in the Methodist Church, and to inspire us to engage in mission in our local communities.

Worshipping with others

It is important to meet with other Christians for worship. Some local churches that have ceased to be self-governing will continue to worship at the same time and in the same place for the time being. Others will find that that they will have to meet with a different group of people. One of Methodism’s strengths is that we are a connexional people, with ties that bind us to others beyond our local congregation.

Either way, it is good to remember that worshipping with others remains important, and to continue to attend as regularly as possible. Even if the location, congregation or format is unusual, the core activities will probably remain the same:

  • reflecting on the Bible,
  • prayers of praise, adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession,
  • singing,
  • Holy Communion.

Small Groups

Some small churches may find that they become a ‘class’ of another church, continuing to meet midweek with the people who used to be a local church together. Maybe there is an opportunity to grow this group, inviting people from the local community who might prefer this as a way of exploring spirituality.

Small groups are excellent places to:

  • look for God in the Bible,
  • to pray for each other,
  • to talk about how God has been present in your everyday life.

Maybe you could join an existing community small group, or start up one that you could invite local people to join – a book club, a place to do crafts, a place for conversation over a cup of tea.

Here is a guide to running small groups

Personal devotional activities

A Methodist Way of Life challenges us to pray daily, and to look for God in the world. We are also called to learn more about our faith.

There are many resources that can help you in your personal devotional life: books, courses, apps. Ask your local minister or friends for suggestions.

Mission and Evangelism

The driving principle behind this change is to make the Methodist Church nimbler and better suited for mission. Once your local church has been relieved of the administrative burdens that trusteeship brings, there may be more capacity to engage in local mission and witness. Many of the commitments of a Methodist Way of Life are ways to be good news to our communities. Which of these exciting things might you be able to do together, or individually, with the time and energy that has been freed up?

Our Mission Planning Toolkit may help you in the process of deciding what to do together.