"What does it mean to be a United Methodist?" The answer to this question, says Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., is to live a particular way of life and follow a particular form of discipleship. The distinctive aspects of that way of discipleship are contained in what has recently come to be known as "the practices." Christian practices are things done together, over time, in response to God's grace. They constitute an extended argument against some harmful alternative in the culture; they address and define a fundamental human need; they come to focus in worship; and they add up to a way of life. Carter contends that there are 6 essential practices in the United Methodist tradition: (1) searching the scriptures, (2) generosity with the poor, (3) testimony, (4) singing, (5) Holy Communion, and (6) Christian conferencing.
Written primarily for those who lead in United Methodist congregations, this book will give the reader not only an understanding of what the central United Methodist practices are, but also how they can be taught. Being formed in and by these practices does not happen overnight; it happens across a lifetime of observing the practices in others and trying them out oneself. Neglecting the Christian practices--failing to attend to them--can mean a life devoid of much of the purpose and power that life in the Spirit can hold.
"A Way of Life in the World is an invitation to engage in practices that form individuals and communities in accordance with the Christian gospel. This pastorally sensitive, theologically sound, historically grounded book is a needed alternative to the promises of church renewal through gimmicks and marketing techniques. Those who take seriously the admonition to 'be in the world but not of the world' will be informed, inspired, and strengthened by this book. --Kenneth L. Carder Director, The Center for Excellence in Ministry Duke University Divinity School
"Can a pastor, parent, scholar, servant lead the church of the twenty-first century back to the future? The answer is yes and the proof is in these pages. Rev. Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., leads us forward into the spiritual practices that have sustained Christians for centuries. Those who read this book will discover (and rediscover) the riches of God's grace through the ordinary experiences of life. --Tom Albin, Dean of the Upper Room Chapel, Nashville, Tennessee
"How can we connect our heads, our hearts, and our hands in faithfulness? In this wonderful book, Ken Carter insightfully points the way toward faithful Christian living, weaving together the significance of Christian practices and the wisdom of the Wesleyan tradition. Don't miss it."
L. Gregory Jones
Dean and Professor of Theology
Duke University Divinity School
"Carter has gleaned from our Methodist heritage six essential practices that provide a way for us to be everyday Christians. This is a book to be read and lived."
--Ron Robinson Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and Professor of Religion, Wofford College
"Kenneth Carter is a wise, engaging, and faithful guide to Christian practices and the transformative grace they offer. 'Ordinary Christians with complicated lives' thirst to drink from deep wells such as the one to which Carter invites us. A Way of Life in the World is a treasure.
--Dorothy C. Bass, Editor of Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People
Over the centuries Christian pilgrims have known that spiritual practices are the muscles of Christian living. This clear, wise book will help today's Christian pilgrims strengthen their spiritual muscles for the next leg of the journey.Ž Kendall Soulen Professor of Systematic Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary