“Have You Read The Discipline?”


Here is a very simple question – have you read the Book of Discipline lately? I would think that if you were to read this interesting book, you might find out things that will enhance your life and could go a long way to revitalizing the church.

Yes, I know that reading the Discipline can be very tedious. It is the only book that I know of where page references are to paragraph numbers and not the actual page numbers. It is one of those books only the most retentive of people will find enjoyable but if you really needed to get a good night’s sleep, reading the Discipline will do the trick.

And my question about reading this book is not about the major issues that threaten to divide and destroy the United Methodist Church (but if you haven’t looked at those paragraphs, you might want to do so).

I am more concerned with some of the more mundane (if that’s the proper word) aspects of the organization of the United Methodist Church. It is just my opinion but many of the internal problems of a local church might not happen if people knew how things were supposed to work. One of the first pastors that I worked with as a lay speaker happened to have been a lawyer in a prior life and he always insisted that pastors and laity alike would save them a lot of trouble if they read the Discipline.

I don’t necessarily like rules and/or procedures but if you don’t have a sense of what you can and cannot do, it can be very hard to accomplish things.

Two points to consider –

As you may know from reading this blog, I am a certified lay servant in the United Methodist Church. This is a relatively new title for something that I have been doing for the past twenty years or so. But were you aware that if you so desire to become a certified lay servant, you first must have the Staff-Parish Relations Committee’s approval? You would be surprised how many annual reports that I received when I was the Registrar for our District where the particular individual had failed to get the first step approved.

Were you aware that each committee of the church has to have a certain number of women and youth? Enforcing this rule at your next charge conference will certainly enliven the proceedings, especially if the youth of the church are in the 45 – 50 age range.

The other day, John Meunier reposted a piece about how the Southern Baptist Convention could save itself from its impending doom. One of the three things that Jonathan Merrit, the author of the original piece, suggested would turn around and save the denomination was to give the youth a greater voice in the operation of the local church. That’s part of our Discipline but I wonder how many churches actually do that?

So have you read the Discipline recently?

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2 thoughts on ““Have You Read The Discipline?”

  1. I’ve read particular sections necessary to move forth in ministry , and I was aware the youth were to have a greater voice. My church has made feeble attempts but having their name on the list of committee members is about as far as we got at any time. Truth be known a certain group of folks I will call bullies manage to stifle the voices of anyone person that holds a different point of view. We eventually get to step outside the box and do things a little differently midst whispered comments and complaints. Often times the women in our church are fighting again the patriarchal mindset. I fear these stumbling blocks before the blind man are not revered as sinful. I hate to see the church fade away but the idea that children can be seen and heard needs to occur soon as does all types of people are called to ministry,. Most may seem unlikely but God alone equips the called.

    • Great response Kathleen (also great name!!!! My eldest is Katy and Kathleen when I need her attention!!!!)! I spent 11 years as a Youth Learner (kept getting called Director!!! Hated it!!!) and most of my Adult Ministry trying, no fighting, (That’s one thing we Irish do best!!!!) to follow Discipline. But the Seniors, for the most part, don’t listen (still the same!!!), the Young walk and we whine about our dwindling nature!!!! So very sad!!!!

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