The United Methodist Movement has a reputation for its concern for the people and as a church we have been active on social issues for many years. The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church are crafted to express how we engage in social issues. They are exceedingly important for any United Methodist to know. Today, let’s begin our journey by looking at the Social Creed of the United Methodist Church.
The Creed reads as follows:
We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God’s gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts to idolatrous ends.
We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind.
We joyfully receive for ourselves and others the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage, and the family.
We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and people with disabilities; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons.
We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress.
We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people of the world.
We believe in the present and final triumph of God’s Word in human affairs and gladly accept our commission to manifest the life of the gospel in the world. Amen.
This is a very broad stroke explanation of what is in the Social Principles. Each part of the Social Principles is represented in this creed and what’s interesting is what following the creed in our book of discipline.
(It is recommended that this statement of Social Principles be continually available to United Methodist Christians and that it be emphasized regularly in every congregation. It is further recommended that “Our Social Creed” be frequently used in Sunday worship.)
This should point out to us the importance of the Social Principles, the creed, or chant that we say out loud is encouraged to be shared weekly. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen this in a bulletin in a United Methodist Congregation. As someone who has studied the Social Principles at length, it is something that should be shared. No matter what year we are in and what is happening in society this document is crucially important. Sadly, there are not many who know this even exists, but we would strongly benefit from knowing these Principles.
So how can you teach and live this creed for your youth groups?
Here is an idea for you to consider teaching the Social Creed.
(Print off a copy or copy from the Book of Discipline the Social Creed, it can be found at Paragraph 166 in the Book of Discipline. Be sure to print/copy off enough individual for everyone in the small group)
Begin with prayer.
Have each student read a line of the creed and read the Creed from start to finish without stopping.
You can then start a discussion about what the Creed means to them. Sometimes asking teenagers what words jump out to them is a great way to get a conversation started or if you have a white board in the room you can have them write it on the board. The point of this activity is to discuss like Jesus would have talked with His first disciples.
After a time of discussion, I would suggest you transition to a respond section. Ask the youth in the group, “How can we live this creed? What does that look like?” In any discussion with teenagers never never ask yes/no questions, always questions that will lead to a discussion. This is especially important in this type of discussion.
Of course there are multiple ways to teach this to your youth, what are some ways that you would teach this? Let’s brainstorm together in the comments section below about how we can interpret this differently than I presented.
Grace and Peace be with you always!
Bradley W. Alexander