Class Leaders: Recovering a Tradition

Class Leaders: Recovering a Tradition

by David Lowes Watson, David Watson


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Class Leaders: Recovering a Tradition by David Lowes Watson, David Watson

In 1988, The General Conference of the United Methodist Church restored class leaders and class meetings to the Book of Discipline after an absence of fifty years. In this volume, David Lowes Watson explains what the recovery of this tradition can mean for congregations, and offers some guidelines for the revitalized office of class leader.

Adapting the later Methodist class meeting as a pastoral subdivision of the congregation, Watson shows how class leaders, under the supervision of the pastor, can nurture the discipline of other church members in light of a "General Rule of Discipline" derived from the early Methodist societies: "To witness to Jesus Christ in the world, and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

This volume is the second in a trilogy : Covenant Discipleship, Class Leaders, and Forming Christian Disciples.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781579109547
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: (w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

David Lowes Watson is Director of the Office of Pastoral Formation for the Nashville Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church.

A native of England, he was educated at Oxford University, (M.A.), Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (M.Div.), and Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (Ph.D.). He has pastored inner city and rural congregations in Illinois and North Carolina, and has served as Executive Secretary for Covenant Discipleship and Christian Formation at the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church. He has taught at Southern Methodist University as the McCreless Professor of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology, and at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. as Professor of Theology and Congregational Life and Mission.

He has written extensively in the fields of Methodist history and theology, evangelism, and congregational life and mission. His books include The Early Methodist Class Meeting, and God Does Not Foreclose. He has also written curriculum resources for The United Methodist Church, including the New Testament studies in Troublesome Bible Passages. He was the founding editor of the Covenant Discipleship Quarterly and the Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, of which he is a past President. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Bicentennial Edition of The Works of John Wesley and is presently a member of the Board of Directors of Eden Theological Seminary.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Recovering a Traditionxv
Eventful Legislationxv
The Genius of Methodismxv
Clergy and Class Leadersxvi
A Focus on Class Leadersxvii
Small Groupsxviii
The Horse Before the Cartxix
Covenant Discipleshipxix
An Echo of the Class Leaderxx
Chapter 1The Need for Leaders in Discipleship1
The Mystery of Christian Discipleship1
Loose Discipleship2
Moments of Resentment3
More Discipline?4
The Two-Fold Ministry of Jesus5
Feed My Sheep6
A Shepherd's Secret6
Too Much Expertise7
Getting the Job Done8
Practicing the Basics8
Delaying Tactics9
First Steps10
More Delaying Tactics11
Leading the Flock12
Guidance in the First Steps12
Leadership Credentials13
A Leadership Question14
A Touchy Question15
Amateurs and Professionals15
A Model from Early Methodism17
For Reflection18
Chapter 2The Origin of Class Leaders19
The Early Methodist Movement19
Affection for the Church20
True Freedom of Discipleship20
Privileged Servanthood21
Spirit and Structure in the Church22
Spiritual Renewal23
Obedient Discipleship24
Religious Common Sense25
Pastoral Oversight25
Mutual Accountability26
The Need for Mutual Support27
The Class Leader28
Disciplinary Oversight28
Resistance to Discipline29
Matters of Heart and Life30
Spiritualized Discipleship31
Disciplined Relationships31
Companionship with Christ32
An Early Methodist Class Leader33
A Return to Class Leaders36
For Reflection38
Chapter 3The Class Leader in North America39
Across the Atlantic39
Pastoral Concern40
Class Leaders in Their Prime42
Literature on Class Meetings42
The Duties of Class Leaders43
Signs of Decline44
From Society to Church45
The Mother Church of Methodism45
Uncertain Identity46
Churchly Responsibilities47
A Question of Leadership47
An "Unnecessary Wheel"49
An Unfortunate Irony49
Loss of Leadership50
Displacement of the Class Meeting51
The Question of Slavery52
Loss of Integrity52
Keeping the Tradition Alive53
African American Methodism54
An Extract from A.M.E. Polity55
African American United Methodists56
Other Methodist Traditions57
The Korean Tradition58
Mutual Learnings from a Common Tradition59
For Reflection60
Chapter 4Recovering the Tradition of Class Leaders61
Tradition and Traditioning61
Faithful Traditioning62
The Presence of the Risen Christ63
The Methodist Tradition63
A Detraditioned Office64
Retraditioning the Office64
The United Methodist Church and Its Context65
A Counter-Cultural Office66
Careful Traditioning67
The Importance of the Pastor67
First Things First68
A Climate of Accountability69
Covenant Discipleship69
The General Rule of Discipleship70
Extending the General Rule71
Classes as Pastoral Groupings72
"Tracking Them Down"73
Why Not Class Meetings?74
A "New Frontier"75
The Class Leader as Coach75
The Class Leader as Drill Instructor76
The Class Leader as Guide76
The Class Leader as Co-Pastor77
Why Class Leaders?78
A Foundation and a Catalyst79
Hearing the Call80
For Reflection81
Chapter 5Discerning the Call: Preparing for the Task83
The Inward Call83
The Outward Call84
A Good Reason to Hesitate85
A Good Reason Not to Hesitate86
Seemingly Impossible Standards87
The Most Important Question89
He Did the Best He Could90
They Did the Best They Could91
Ready to Go Professional91
Preparation through Covenant Discipleship93
A Condition of the Office94
Accepting the Office94
Prayerful Preparation95
The Leaders' Meeting97
Co-Pastor of the Congregation98
Your Accountability98
Getting to Know Your Congregation99
Getting to Know Your World100
Training "On the Job"100
Forming Your Class101
For Reflection103
Chapter 6Getting to Know Your Class105
Diversity of People105
An Open Mind106
Diversity of Gifts and Graces106
Human Qualities and Talents107
Spiritual Gifts108
The Fruit of the Spirit109
Diversity of Needs110
Diversity of Faith112
Faith as a Human Universal112
Religious Faith113
Religious Beliefs113
Stages of Faith114
"Degrees of Faith"115
The Christian Life116
The New Birth116
Growth in Christ118
Maturity in Christ119
Constancy of Grace121
Diversity of Discipleship122
Growth in Discipleship123
Christ-Centered Discipleship123
A Word of Encouragement125
For Reflection126
Chapter 7Forming the Discipleship of Your Class127
Establishing Contact with Your Members127
The First Visit to Your Members127
The Agenda of the Visit128
The General Rule of Discipleship130
This Is Just the Beginning131
An Intensive First Few Weeks132
What Not to Do with Your Class133
At Ease and Alert135
Reactive Resistance136
In Covenant with an Active God137
Joyful Surrender138
Getting Caught in the Crossfire139
A Christ-Centered Relationship139
Becoming Informed about Your Congregation140
Further Contact with Your Members141
Applying the General Rule142
Witnessing to Jesus Christ in the World142
Acts of Compassion143
Acts of Worship143
Acts of Justice144
Acts of Devotion146
The Guidance of the Holy Spirit146
Connecting Your Class Members147
For Reflection148
Conclusion: In Harmony with One Another149
Knowing Who You Are149
Spiritual Discernment149
A Dangerous Gift150
Deal Charitably with Your Members151
Deal Charitably with Your Pastor152
A Question of Calling152
True Christian Collegiality153
A Final Word154

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