A Way of Life in the World Study Guide

Kenneth Carter
About this article...
Pastor Kenneth Carter, Jr., offers these reflection questions for individual and group study of his book "A Way of Life in the World: Spiritual Practices for United Methodists" (Abingdon Press).

Introduction:  Spiritual Practices For United Methodists

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1.      Identify a practice that is absolutely essential to your own self-understanding.  This practice might be related to a source of meaning, joy or fulfillment for you.


2.      How do you respond to the concept that behavior shapes our thinking, rather than vice versa?


3.      Read the definition of Christian practices on page 23.  Which practice is most meaningful to you?  Which is most developed in your own journey as a Christian?


Searching The Scriptures


1.      Do you have a regular practice of reading scripture?  If not, can you identify obstacles to such a practice?


2.      How has scripture been a “means of grace” for you?  How can scripture be used in ways that do not lead us toward grace?


3.      Can you recall a teacher or mentor who has helped you to understand or apply the scriptures?


Generosity With The Poor


1.      This practice is often less known than the others discussed in the book.  Why might this be true?


2.      How did the poor help to shape the early Methodist movement?


3.      How do the poor shape your own life today, as a Christian?  How are the poor present in your congregation?





1.      Why is Christian testimony important?


2.      How can testimony be abused?


3.      What features help testimony to have power and authenticity?




1.      Can you recall a hymn that you would describe as your favorite? Why do you attach significance to this hymn?


2.      Which Wesley hymn (noted in chapter four) has had an influence on your Christian life? 


3.      Why is it important for a tradition to preserve and appreciate resources from the past, such as hymns?


Holy Communion


1.      Can you recall a memorable experience of Holy Communion?


2.      Two reasons given by John Wesley for receiving communion are noted on page 76.  Why are both important?  Does either take precedence for you?


3.      Why has communion as a practice been marginalized in Protestant and Evangelical Christianity?


Life Together


1.      Where do you receive support in the Christian life?  Where do you experience accountability in the Christian life?


2.      What is the source of individualism in contemporary Christianity?  Is it a problem?  If so, why?


3.      Read Acts 2. 42.  How are these practices present in your congregation?  Which practice has been of particular importance to you?




1.      Describe an experience of God’s grace.


2.      Reflect on Wesley’s description of salvation as the journey from the porch, to the door, and finally to the house.  How has your own Christian experience taken the shape of a journey or movement?


3.      Wesley defines holiness as “love of God and love of neighbor”.  How is the term holiness sometimes abused?  How is concept of holiness a necessary one for Christian individuals and communities?



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