The United Methodist Church

cross and flame colorThe United Methodist Church is a worldwide church of 12.5 million members, including 7.4 million in the United States.  There are a few things that make the United Methodist Church distinct.

The Connection.  Every local congregation of the United Methodist Church in the United Methodist Church is a part of a District, which is a part of an Annual Conference, which is a part of a Jurisdiction, which is a part of the General Conference.  This organizational structure is supported by Bishops, a Judicial Council, and by various Boards and Agencies.  The Connection allows every congregation to make a broader impact as we try to live out our mission “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

The Cross and Flame has been the symbol of the United Methodist Church since 1968.  The flame is reminder of the spirit and power of Pentecost.  The two tongues of the flame represent the former Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The union of these two churches in 1968 birthed the United Methodist Church.

Wesleyan Heritage.  John and Charles Wesley are recognized as the founding brothers of the Methodist Movement.  While neither ever joined the official church that they birthed, their distinctive theology, organization, and music remains an important influence on Methodist churches of every stripe.

Five Practices of Fruitful Ministry.

  1. Radical Hospitality.
  2. Passionate worship
  3. Intentional faith-development
  4. Extravagant Generosity
  5. Risk-taking mission and service.

Four Areas of Focus.  In 2008 the Bishops of the United Methodist Church named four areas of focus.  These are central to the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  They are:

  • Combating the diseases of poverty by improving health globally.
  • Engaging in ministry with the poor.
  • Creating new places for new people and revitalizing existing congregations.
  • Developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world.

Three aspects of Grace.  John Wesley taught that there were three aspects of God’s grace.  Prevenient, which is the grace of God that comes before all understanding.  This grace is offered to all, making it possible for us to turn away from a sinful world and toward a loving God.  Justifying grace is the grace that transforms the heart.  It is realized the moment that one repents, and turns toward God.  Sanctifying grace is the process of moving “onward toward perfection.”  It is the grace of God that calls us to grow in love and mercy.

Two Sacraments. Like most Protestant Churches, The United Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments: Baptism and Communion.  Baptism is the work and prerogative of the Holy Spirit.  It is for this reason that all people are welcomed into baptism, regardless of age.  There is no need for re-baptism, because the seal of the Holy Spirit cannot be broken.  From time to time, we remember our baptism in ritual and worship.  Communion is open to all.  It is not a United Methodist table, it is Christ’s table, and all are welcome.  It is a means through which people may experience the divine.  It is a celebration of Jesus’ saving work.

One Chuck.  Chuck Knows Church is a series of web videos that explain the basics of our faith.  Starting with just 25 short lessons, the popularity of the series has pushed Chuck and his team to produce over 80 videos, with topics ranging from The fish symbol, to Communion, to pot-lucks.  All of the videos have a good mix of humor, reverence, and education.