Tuesday, August 02, 2005

THE MEANS OF GRACE- WHAT'S THAT MEAN?


So last week I wrote a post about how frustrated I get sometimes with the polarization that I see in the church today. Not that I think we can easily move passed this nor do I think the issues over which we debate and discuss are trivial enough that we ought to dismiss them.
I did conclude however that what ought to be at the center of Methodist polity- ought to be a denomination that embodies "practices" of faith.

"Practicing our faith" was so central to John Wesley's idea of how we do church together that he instituted practices as central to the Methodist societies- he called them the "means of grace". Means of Grace as defined by Wesley were nothing more than practices that Christians were to engage in that over time with much practice- would help a person to continually become more and more like Jesus.

According to Richard Foster- these spiritual practices (means of grace) are made up of:
THE INWARD DISCIPLINES
Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study
THE OUTWARD DISCIPLINES
simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service

THE CORPORATE DISCIPLINES
Confession, Worship, Celebration, Sacraments

Steven Harper, director of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Seminary says this about spiritual practices:
" We are made in the image of God, and as Augustine said, our hearts are restless until they rest in God. To live the life of a disciple is to live the life we have always wanted to live. When we live as disciples, our hearts exclaim, 'For this I was made!' And out of that exclamation will come a willingness to practice the spiritual disciplines in whatever ways will make us better followers of the Master."
This kind of thinking had a huge impact on Wesley- the more we practice a spiritual discipline, the more the practice becomes a way of life.
So back to Methodists and the Means of Grace. I have an idea and I want to see if anyone is interested in trying this with me.
Henry Knight III is the Donald and Pearl Wright Professor of Wesleyan Studies at St. Paul School of Theology. He has written a book called, "Eight Life Enriching Practices for United Methodists". According to a writeup on the General Board of Discipleship's website: "Eight Life-Enriching Practices of United Methodists presents the basic practices of Christian discipleship. Also known as the means of grace and spiritual disciplines, these eight practices are the historic places where God promises to meet God's people face to face. They are an essential part of the life of Christian discipleship because they are how disciples grow in faith, hope, and love."
So I'm interested in seeing if there is a group of people that would be willing to read this book- maybe 1 chapter per week, focussing on living out the practice during the week and posting about it on their blog. What we'd in effect have are various ways that different Methodist Christians begin to strive to live out their faith with a shared/common language but we'd each live out those practices in different expressions.
I'm thinking that it would start at the beginning of September and we'd go till we get through the book. There's a few other great books on Wesley and spiritual practices that we could do if this goes well- including Paul Chilcoates- Recapturing The Wesley's Vision, and fellow blogger, Ken Carter's- A Way of Life in the World.
So, who's in?

15 comments:

John Stephens said...

Count me in.

daniel greeson said...

can someone who isnt methodist join in?
aka me?

Jenny said...

I'm in as long as there is grace for when I end up a week behind everyone else.

Kara said...

I'm in - at least for a month until Baby Oliver arrives.

Tinley said...

I'd be interested. But, please, when you direct people to an online bookstore to purchase a book from a religious publisher, send them to Cokesbury. Cokesbury has plenty of available copies of Eight Life Enriching Practices of United Methodists, and if you buy from the website, you get a discount. (My livelihood is at stake here.)

St.Phransus said...

ha ha, got ya tinsley!!! and jenny- you were gracious enough on my procrastinating "behind"- i suppose we'll all be generous toward one another in that sense.

i'm excited!!!

jonathon

St.Phransus said...

hey daniel, definitely!!!

jonathon

tdadpete said...

I'm interested

Karen said...

I'm interested too.

gavin richardson said...

sure, i'm in.. i figure we will be talking about this so i might as well read it with you.

Josh Frank said...

I'd be in, too. When would we start? I'm excited about the possibility of doing this (or something similar) in our re-developing college group. This could be a good pilot.

LARouse said...

Hello! If new comer to the ministry life here in Nashville can join in the journey, I'm in.
lanecia rouse

LARouse said...

It's late and my typing skills are a bit off. I would like to join in the conversation with you all. Thanks for throwing out the invite and the idea.
When do we start?

St.Phransus said...

Lenecia,
we'll be starting the first of september. i'll set up a blog that will be for all of those involved to post ideas.

St.Phransus said...

Lenecia,
we'll be starting the first of september. i'll set up a blog that will be for all of those involved to post ideas.