Wineskins 2

connexions » Blog Archive » Rediscovering the Circuit

Richard Hall has some good words to say about the Methodist circuit system. I especially like the way he amends the ‘strong helping the weak’ value to the one of gaining a wider perspective. Like him, if we were to get local pastors (and other leaders – see the previous Wineskins post) in each church, I would still keep something like the circuit system as part of that sense of apostolic connectedness. However, Richard’s post admits that the circuit system was not originally set up with ordained leaders in mind. It was a supplementary support in the Evangelical Revival, and as I argued before, Methodism hasn’t really grasped that nettle.

Another problem we face is alluded to by comment #1 on the post, by Olive Morgan. She laments the lack of support for circuit events. I suggest this is a combination of at least two factors. Firstly, younger church activists often operate in a post-denominational fashion, looking for the right church for them and their loved ones (and that isn’t always consumerist, although it can be). They are thus less attached to the denominational structures. Combined with this, the generations which were more denominationally loyal are getting older. (Olive Morgan openly admits on the blog strap line that she is an octogenarian.) Many are now of the age where they don’t like to go out at night. Maintaining a sense of connectedness happens less in the Methodist structures now and more in local cross-church co-operation. I believe we should lament inward-looking congregationalism and celebrate the connections where they happen. The circuit doesn’t need to be the provider of all connectedness, but it can be the cheerleader for all that happens.

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  1. “The circuit doesn’t need to be the provider of all connectedness, but it can be the cheerleader for all that happens.”- excellent point Dave, we run on a collaborative team basis and find that this does bring the Circuit together in a more unique way, the 4 staff preach in all of the churches and also minister in all of them gifts are taken into account so that we and the leadership team/ stewards etc all play to our strengths- yess there are drawbacks but as far as circuit identity goes it is a deffinite plus.


  2. I agree that many people (and not only the young in our case) operate in a post-denominational fashion but they don’t want to play any part in local cross-church co-operation either. It’s only the same handful of folk who support Cicuit or ecumenical events and training days, missing out on so much.

    I had to smile at your reference to me as an octogenarian but, although I am that in years, I spend more time with younger people than with those of my own age. I am always looking for new challenges for myself and for my church while my peers tend to re-live their past.


  3. I guess it’s easier for you, Sally, if there are only 4 staff in your Circuit. Ours is one of the largest Circuits, with 21 churches, 11 Ministers and 5 lay Workers, so it has been divided into 4 sectors. The Ministers, Local Preachers and Lay Workers do run on a collaborative Circuit basis but do not preach so often in the other sectors of the Circuit. This means that, unless you are elected to the Circuit Meeting as I am, the ordinary member does not see so much of the other Ministers or preachers in the Circuit. We contribute financially (as indivdual churches) to help other churches in the other sectors, but not many of our members visit churches in the other sectors. Perhaps one reason for this is that many of our members have joined our church from other denominational backgrounds – Anglican, Baptist and United Reformed – and have little interest in our Circuit system.


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