Greetings to you this morning from Cleburne, TX! I am so glad to be writing you all today about the continuing blog series on “Wesleyan Distinctive’s: A Practical Look,” by looking at at Sanctification and Perfection today. As per usual let us start by first looking at what the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church has to stay about this Wesleyan Distinctive.
Sanctification and Perfection – We hold that the wider of God’s acceptance and pardon does not end God’s saving work, which continues to nurture our growth in grace. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to increase in the knowledge and love of God and in love for our neighbor.
New birth is the first step in this process of sanctification. Sanctifying grace draws us toward the gift of Christian Perfection, which Wesley described as a heart “habitually filled with the love of God and neighbor” and as “having the mind of Christ and walking as he walked.”
This gracious gift of God’s power and love, the hope and expectation of the faithful, is neither warranted by our efforts nor limited by our frailties.
John Wesley in his ministry preached more sermons about this topic than anything else and it was and still is an important piece of our wesleyan theology as United Methodists and one that is very important, one that needs to be fleshed out multiple times in your youth ministry plan. During lent this year the student ministry that I am blessed to lead at FUMC Cleburne looked at Henri Nouwen’s book, “The Life of the Beloved.” The hope was to draw us back to the cross and through that reintroduce who we are and why that still matters today. The way this series worked out during lent was the following:
Week One: The Beloved: You Are God’s Idea
Week Two: Becoming the Beloved
Week Three: Living the Life of the Beloved
Yes, I am aware that Lent is much longer than three weeks, but I have found that doing a long series for the entire time of lent is very arduous and taxing for students that we did a focus on three weeks instead. This helped us focus on what we wanted to accomplish during Lent this year. So, a part of the vision for this series was kinda like how the three types of Grace develop.
First you learn who you are, that from the beginning you were God’s idea. Just like the image I shared about when you were born God’s prevenient grace greeted you and informed you of who you are and ultimately that you are loved.
Secondly you learn that as a part of being made right in Christ you are empowered, energized, and equipped by the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how engage this idea of being the Beloved, and not only that that you become a part of sharing with others this truth as well.
Finally you begin to live into this love and grace and through the journey of faith you are perfected by God’s love. It’s a journey so you will have mountains and valleys and yet through it all you are continually being sanctified by Jesus.
A big part of teaching sanctification and christian perfection is by example and again creating a culture of sanctification. An atmosphere of trust and reliance on you as their minister really is important for your students, so pay attention to the effective presence that you are in their lives. However, don’t forget that ministry is not an individual activity, connect volunteers in your ministry with students to help with that trust and reliance as well.
Sanctification is a constant journey of guiding your students to always look to put things in their lives that cultivate their relationship with God, so in the ministry FUMC Cleburne also we make a point to send a daily scripture to our students and by giving a bible to our students when they are confirmed and when they graduate out of the ministry as well. This is our way to invest in cultivating that relationships, to growth in Christ it has to be a priority to them, but they don’t know unless they are guided to that knowledge.
As always my prayers are always with you and your ministry. If you have any prayer requests I would love to pray for you and help you in any way I can. Us youth workers and disciples need to stick together in the love and grace of Christ. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can pray for you and help you in anyway I can.
Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom of God!
Grace and Peace,
Bradley W. Alexander
Director of Student Ministries