Methodist Faith Groups - Meeting Format and Guidelines

Before the meeting starts, please light a candle on the table, and prepare materials that can support discussions during the meeting. Please greet people warmly and start on time.

OPENING

Meeting Leader says: Welcome to our Methodist Faith Group. This group is open to everyone who is exploring  Christian faith, or who wants stronger Christian faith. It takes an open mind and a willing heart to have a living faith, and an accountable commitment to God and to others seeking faith. Please try to be patient with yourself and with others, keep coming, and trust that our loving God wants to touch your life with insight, healing,and hope, as much as anyone else. You are not alone, and, in Christ, we can grow in God’s way, together, no matter where and how we worship.

In these hour-long meetings, we share with one another how our lives are in relationship with God; we reflect on topics from the Bible, and related materials, to understand our lives and the world through God’s story; we pray with one another, for one another, and for others; and we seek ways to be in service to one another and the world, in the image of our loving God. We try to practice spiritual disciplines that help us to grow in faith using three simple rules: do no wrong, do good, and stay in love with God.

Christian traditions from the Methodist movement affirm that God created everything and everyone in love; that God came to us as Jesus Christ, to help us to heal and to grow in God’s love faithfully; and that God is never done with us, in God’s living Holy Spirit. There is always more to be revealed in God’s story of love in our lives, and in the world, until the end of time.

We encourage people in our faith groups to speak honestly, and to offer everyone a spirit of confidentiality, loving kindness, and trust. Please listen carefully to others. We try to keep the focus on our own lives, and limit the length of our comments whenever possible, so that God’s will, and not our will, may be the source of our strength in our meetings. Our Holy Conversations guidelines can help us to practice this way of speaking, here, and everywhere.

[Take turns reading each of the Holy Conversations guidelines]

CENTERING TIME AND PRAYER

Meeting Leader says: Please take a moment to reflect silently together, after which I will lead us in a short prayer, to center our minds and hearts on God. [About a minute of silence typically]

INTRODUCTIONS

[If there are new or relatively new people in the group, please have everyone introduce themselves by name around the room]

SHARING OUR WITNESS

Meeting Leader says: Now please join us in a time to reflect on how our lives are in relation to our God. We will go around the room, giving each person a turn to reflect out loud briefly, without commentary from others. If you do not want to speak, simply say “pass,” and I will give you an opportunity to speak or pass again later on.

[After witnesses, the meeting leader says]: Thank you for sharing the truth of your life. We hear you, God hears you, and we will work together through faith to move forward in faith.

[MEETING FORMAT CONTINUES ON REAR OF THIS PAGE]

TOPIC INTRODUCTION

Meeting Leader says:  Our topic leader will now introduce a discussion topic. We will practice discussing this topic with open minds and open hearts, being mindful of our Holy Conversations guidelines, and praying for God to be present with us as we speak.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Meeting Leader says: Before we close our topic discussion, has it brought to your mind or your heart something that you’d like to share with us now?

SERVING GOD

Meeting Leader says: Responding to God in service to others is part of our growth in faith. Before we conclude with prayers, are there needs to serve people in our community, or for you or this group, that we should be aware of and discuss? [Lead a brief discussion if needed].

PRAYERS

Meeting Leader says: Thank you for your witness and our discussions, may they help us to grow our faith together! Let’s close in prayer together:

[Lead a prayer that addresses joys, concerns and hopes that have been raised in the meeting, ending in the Lord’s Prayer.]

GUIDELINES FOR MEETING LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

  1. Rotation of leadership and duties is essential for the group’s spiritual health and growth. Please establish through a group decision a plan that works best for your group. Topic leadership should rotate regularly, preferably for weeks or months.
  2. The ultimate authority for our groups is a loving God, revealed through the group’s expression of its faithful will, removing fear and dominance from decision making.
  3. Group service should be non-professional, with no endorsements of individuals or institutions. We are to serve all of God’s children, and to invite everyone to God’s hope..
  4. Not every decision that the group makes can be supported by everyone. However, it is important for our growth in faith to respect the thoughtful expression of minority opinions, and to seek substantial unanimity in decisions whenever possible.
  5. We all come to faith with different backgrounds and beliefs. Our groups are not designed to declare one person’s point of view “right” over another’s point of view, We are here to seek God’s truth and love together, for the sake of God’s salvation of the world.
  6. Each group member should try to be mindful of other meeting members outside of our meetings, praying for them, and reaching out to them when appropriate.

Creative Commons License

Methodist Faith Groups - Meeting Format and Guidelines by John Blossom is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSy5alesJ7P4Bm8Cz412LTCjwkBvSdmGtqA5nEcbXzPu8tI7QktabPC34K91umnUxVkSnljWdIhqgVG/pub.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

http://johnblossom.com/contact-me/.

Last update: 23 August 2018 by John Blossom - Version 1.6