The Power of Religion


"I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out." ~ John Wesley

We in the Methodist tradition have developed a connectional system that can be highly effective at meeting the needs of the world by connecting each congregation so that we can support one another and serve together. Programs like UMCOR and the Methodist Children’s Home are some of the reasons that I love being a Methodist, as well as the multitude of other ministries that we have founded or support.

Wesley’s great fear is "the form of religion without the power." As a people who are connectional and who take part in a complex international denomination, we have very much developed the form of religion. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as we can simply take part in the system and do amazing work for the gospel.

However, to truly be faithful and to truly be Methodist means maintaining the power of religion. Sadly, It is possible to appear to the world as though we are faithful as individuals, as congregations, and as a denomination without having any depth of relationship. We can easily be like the seed planted on the sand, growing quickly yet dying because we have no roots.

The doctrine, spirit, and discipline Wesley cited are those things that form us and sustain us so that we can be not just almost Christian, but altogether Christian. The Adult Discipleship Team of the North Alabama Conference will be working to help deepen the conference's connection to the vine who is Jesus Christ, receiving nourishment from that deep and wide fountain that is the grace of God. We are looking at several avenues through which to do this, one of which is this blog.

We hope that you will use this forum to openly discuss how you and your community are growing as disciples of Jesus Christ. You are encouraged to discuss candidly yet respectfully the upsides and downsides of various curriculum, practices, and programs. We will also feature on this blog other articles that will help guide our thoughts and discussions about how we can best resource our churches in forming disciples, how we can maintain the power out of which we were formed as a denomination, and how we can best grow as disciples here in the North Alabama Conference.

May you grow ever closer to the Christ-child in this advent season and throughout the coming year,

Peter von Herrmann
Chair, Adult Discipleship Team


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