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“Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your
hearts.” –Ephesians 5:19


As we move closer toward the season of General Conference, Annual Conference, and Jurisdictional Conference, I want to share another way of decision-making passed on to us by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. We often call this the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

The Quadrilateral involves putting our thoughts, words, and experiences of God into dialogue with the issues and questions that we are dealing with, involving four things.

Scripture: Scripture is a primary resource for our faith, being inspired by God and central to our faith. Faithful reading of Scripture requires us to ask, what are the resources of Scripture that can help and guide us with whatever situation we are talking about. In other words, what does Scripture say about whatever we are talking about; or does it say anything?

Tradition: This involves considering the history of the Church and the Christian faith where it has spoken and given witness to the particular questions or concerns under discussion. How has tradition impacted whatever it is we are talking about?

Reason: This focus asks us to use our minds. Is what is being considered or suggested reasonable? Does it make sense? Is it logical?

Experience: Consider what our experience has been with whatever concerns or questions we are talking about. We also must consider the experiences of others. What is our experience and the experience of others with whatever we are talking about?

The beauty of the quadrilateral is that it does not give us answers to our questions of life and faith, or give us a quick solution to big decisions or challenging conversations, but it does give us a process that can be used to address any situation we are facing. And, all four of the points of the process are dynamic and changing. We learn more about Scripture all the time. The tradition of the church expands with each year. We gain wisdom and reason as we live and learn. And, our experience is new each day. When using the Quadrilateral, we must also use all four parts and allow them to ‘talk’ to one another. We can’t just pick one or two parts of the Quadrilateral; all four parts need to be applied.

We teach the Wesleyan Quadrilateral decision-making process in our Confirmation class and encourage our students to apply Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason when making big and small decisions.

I look forward to applying the Quadrilateral to our decision-making for the season of conferencing that is coming and I invite you to these four gifts in your decision-making.

Again, thank you for your prayers for those who will be part of the General, Jurisdictional, and Annual conferences in the coming months and for the work and faithfulness of The United Methodist Church.