‘Flat Wesleys’ Help Children Learn, Practice Intentional Discipleship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. March 16, 2015 /Discipleship Ministries/ – Children throughout the United Methodist connection are learning about the history of the Methodist movement and practicing intentional discipleship with the help of drawings of John and Charles Wesley called “Flat Wesleys.”

Churches in each annual conference and each central conference are receiving laminated copies of the Flat Wesleys to begin the project, which will continue through September, said Melanie C. Gordon, director of Ministry with Children at Discipleship Ministries. More than 700 churches have requested to participate through the children’s ministry Facebook page.

“The end result of this project is for children to have the opportunity to practice compassion, justice, worship and devotion, to really pay attention to how they are doing that, and to be able to share their experiences with other children across the Methodist connection,” Gordon said.

‘Flat Wesleys’ Help Children Learn, Practice Intentional DiscipleshipThe idea for Flat Wesleys, which is based on the youth literature character Flat Stanley©, came from a desire by children’s ministry leaders to inspire covenant discipleship with children.

After studying Methodist heritage, congregations will receive a set of Flat Wesleys. The children will make their own Flat Wesleys, and carry them to worship services. “They will have the Wesleys with them in prayer, and they will take them when they go out and do an act of service in the community,” Gordon said. “This offers them something concrete to help them look for ways of living out their faith.”

Teachers and children will then write a letter about what the children experienced while they had the Flat Wesleys and send it to another congregation along with the laminated Flat Wesleys.

“Our hope is that the teachers (at the church receiving the letters) will then read about what the Flat Wesleys did where they were before to their children, and then the process will start again,” Gordon said.

Later this year, Discipleship Resources will release a resource for covenant discipleship with children, and the experiences of the children who participate in the Flat Wesleys Project will become part of that resource.

“We want to gather a list of what children are experiencing, so that when people participate in small groups and intentional discipleship with children and are looking for some ways to practice justice or compassion with their children, they can come to the Discipleship Ministries site,” she said.

“Covenant groups are at the root of Methodism,” Gordon said. Members of covenant groups support one another and hold each other accountable in the areas of justice, compassion, worship and devotion and in practicing those daily and weekly in their lives.

“I believe that our church as a denomination has a very strong and unique history, especially when you think about the Methodist movement was a movement, not a church,” Gordon said. “And it started with young people getting together trying to hold the church accountable to holiness.”

By participating in the Flat Wesley project, children in United Methodist congregations hopefully will be encouraged to learn that the Wesleys were “young people who believed that the church could do more, and they pushed the church to do more,” she said. “It’s an amazing story. I think it’s a story that we don’t look at enough, and we want children to know it, so that they understand why we live out our lives as Christians in this way.”

United Methodist children should know “that God equips them with what they need, and the adults are here to guide them on that journey – to guide them and to help them to use those gifts that God has given them,” Gordon said.

Congregations interested in participating in the Flat Wesleys project should contact Discipleship Ministries by email at childrensministry@umcdiscipleship.org.

The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit www.UMCdiscipleship.org, the Press Center at www.UMCdiscipleship.org/about/press-center or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.

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5 Comments on "‘Flat Wesleys’ Help Children Learn, Practice Intentional Discipleship"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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james
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where does Father/Son/Holy Spirit come in? the major tenet last I recollect…………………….

George Nixon Shuler
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What’s your point?

james
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most umc curricula leave out any reference to a Crucified and Risen Savior–which is what makes the Christian Faith unique…………………….

George Nixon Shuler
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I haven’t researched that but I find the assertion somewhat hard to believe. Those for use in the season of Easter certainly do. What more do you want?

And, actually, it’s not unique at all. The same thing happened with the Egyptian god Osiris, Hercules, Thor, and figures in other cultures.

Al DeFilippo
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Thank you for the post. For more on the early Methodist leaders, please visit the website for the upcoming book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy based on the life of British Methodist preacher, Francis Asbury, opens next month with the book, Black Country. Black Country details Asbury’s early ministry in England. The opening book also details the leaders of the Methodist movement in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The key individuals like John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Lord Dartmouth and Lady Selina, the Countess of Huntingdon play largely in this treatment. Website for the book series is… Read more »
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