The following text is from the Fourth Lecture (“Disciplinary: Church Polity and Rules”) of the “Probationer’s Hand-book: Religious, Historical, Doctrinal, Disciplinary and Practical” by Rev. S. Olin Garrison, M.A. The handbook, also known as the Probationer’s Catechism, is a series of lectures in catechetical form, intended to prepare probationary members for full membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church. These outlines could be adapted for a church membership class.
37. What is the object of Church discipline?
To guard the purity and conserve and increase the saving power of the Church among men.
38. Is it possible for the Church to exist without some form of government?
No more than it is possible for the state, the family, or for Heaven itself, to exist without law.
39. What are the chief organizations to govern the Church?
The General, Annual, Mission, District, Quarterly, and Judicial Conferences.
40. What are the functions or powers of these several organizations, and also of the Leaders and Stewards’ and of the Trustees’ Meetings?
(For the answer consult the Discipline and the official members of the Church. Let the question be divided and given in advance to several probationers.)
41. How many classes of officers in the Church and what are they?
Ten. (1) Ministerial: Bishops, Presiding Elders, Elders, Deacons; (2) Lay: Local Preachers, (who may be ordained Local Elders and Deacons,) Exhorters, Class-leaders, Stewards, Trustees, and Sunday-school Superintendents. Deaconesses.* (Explain the duties belonging to these several offices.)
*[Read Discipline, 1896, Appendix, ¶55.]
42. Have you read and studied the General Rules?
(See Appendix B.)
43. Do you believe the Rules to be taught of God, and found in his Holy Word
44. What do these Rules say we shall avoid doing?
45. What do they say we shall do? What ordinances observe?
46. What are the Rules relating to marriage?
(See Appendix C.)
47. What is the Rule relating to temperance?
(See Appendix D.)
48. What is advised by the General Conference with regard to the use of tobacco?
(See Appendix E.)
49. What is advised with regard to dress?
(See Appendix F. )
50. What is taught with regard to popular amusements?
(See Appendix G.)