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Andrew Thompson has written a post about a book that Abingdon will be publishing in the Spring, Generation Rising: A Future with Hope for the United Methodist Church. Thompson is the editor of the book, which features chapters from twelve different younger leaders in the UMC about the future of the denomination. (Click on the link to Andrew’s post to see a list of the authors of the various chapters, the titles of each chapter, and the cover of the book.)

I was thrilled to be asked by Andrew to write a chapter on the role of small groups for the future of the UMC. My chapter gives a brief history of the role of “watching over one another in love” through a form of small group accountability in early Methodism. I then explore the relevance of the past for the present by addressing some of the challenges to embracing this Wesleyan communal practice in the 21st century. Ultimately, I argue that a return to such a practice will be essential for the renewal of United Methodism. I see the chapter I wrote for Generation Rising as a key part of what I have been doing here in my series on the relevance of the class meeting for the 21st century. If you have found that conversation to be beneficial, I hope you will read my chapter.

I am excited to be a part of this project, because I am thrilled to be part of a collaborative effort to give voice to what younger leaders in the UMC think is needed in order for United Methodism to have a future with hope. One of my frustrations about efforts to restore vitality to our denomination is that they typically fail to represent the vision or insights of the people who are the future of the church. This project is one attempt by younger folks in United Methodism to share what our sense is of where we are and what the most promising and hopeful way forward is. It is written by people who love the church and are committed to it.

I appreciate Andrew’s vision, initiative and leadership in conceiving this project, and his work to bring it to fruition. I also appreciate Abingdon Press’s recognition of the importance of giving voice to the experience and insights of younger generations within the church. Ultimately, I hope Generation Rising is only the beginning of a broader conversation about the way forward for the church.