The New UMC: Resourcing the Renewal of Hope

The renewal of hope is a radical task. With respect to the new UMC, it means the re-formation of our identity. We have lost this internally and in the society as we have been consumed with debates, differences, and division. In the media we are known as the denomination that’s coming apart. That’s not an identity we can abide. A future of hope requires us to recover who we are and declare it.

It must be a sustained effort (not a short-term program) at the congregational level–one that includes knowing the world we live in and discerning how the Wesleyan tradition can be present and active in it. Charles Wesley summed it up in the phrase, “to serve the present age.” [1] The recovery of hope includes the use of resources that inspire and equip us to do this.

In this post I suggest resources that can assist us in the recovery of hope, organizing them in the categories of vision, intention, and means. [2]

(1) Vision—the realism of hope (kairos)
–Phyllis Tickle, ‘The Great Emergence’
–Brian McLaren, ‘The Great Spiritual Migration’
–Richard Rohr, ‘The Wisdom Pattern’
–Paul Chilcote, ‘Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision’

(2) Intention—the roots of hope (heritage)
–Rueben Job, ‘Three Simple Rules’
–Steve Harper, ‘Five Marks of a Methodist’
–Elaine Heath, ‘Five Means of Grace’
–Magrey deVega, ‘One Faithful Promise’

(3) Means—the reignition of hope (mission)
–Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, ‘The Awakening of Hope’
–Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch, ‘The Shaping of Thongs to Come’
–Kenneth Carter & Audrey Warren, ‘Fresh Expressions: A New Kind
of United Methodist Church For People Not in ‘
–Michael Beck & Jorge Acevedo, ‘A Field Guide to Methodist Fresh

Other helpful resources to mention…
–Amplify Media (at the United Methodist Publishing House)
–The Wesley Study Bible
–Michael Beck & Leonard Sweet, ‘Contextual Intelligence’
–Ted Campbell, ‘Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials’
–Kenneth Carder, ‘Living Our Beliefs: The United Methodist Way’
–Kay Kotan, ed., ‘Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World’
–Daryl & Andrew Smith, ‘Discovering Your Missional Potential’

Congregations should create a task force that becomes familiar with these resources and discerns how to use them in the recovering of identity in their context. We must not defer this. The time to launch the recovery of our identity is now. Fellow members and the public are more than ready to hear a vibrant declaration, “This is who we are.”

[1] This phrase is in Charles Wesley’s hymn, “A Charge to Keep.”

[2] Richard Foster develops this threefold o paradigm in ‘The Life With God Bible’ (2005), xxv-xxxvi. I agree with him that it is a paradigm that generates transformation.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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