The Relevant Magazine article is beautiful. It speaks well for my experience. Go read it before you finish this.
Chad’s post about Methodism is right on, too. These are things I love about the Methodist tradition.
The two articles got me wondering why I’m still a Methodist.
I love Methodist theology — at least the true, Wesleyan core of it.
But that’s not why I’m still a Methodist. I could keep my most important beliefs in several other (non)-denominations. In fact, I don’t know that the UMC’s theology is my best fit, as it has softened or entirely caved on some pieces of real Wesleyan belief.
I love Methodist history. I think the early Methodist movement was one of the greatest movements of evangelism and outreach since the primitive church.
But that’s not why I’m still a Methodist. Some have even suggested that other churches are learning from our history while we have forgotten it. I could embrace the early Methodist missional impulse just as well in another (non)-denomination.
I don’t love Methodist polity. You’ve probably picked up on that by now. But I will approve, support, and maintain it unless I have proper opportunity to encourage some changes. And I do believe there are some good things about it. A pastor can make difficult decisions or preach a hard, prophetic word, and the congregation can’t hold a vote afterward to send him/her packing.
But that’s not why I’m still a Methodist.
There are 3 major reasons I’m still a Methodist…
1. The Methodist Connection and Pastoral Ministry
I received a call a few months ago from a mother in another state. She goes to 1st UMC where she lives. I serve at 1st UMC Lexington. Her son had just been imprisoned, and she was hoping someone could visit him. I was able to visit him that week.
I was also able to call a friend at the family’s home church and tell him what was going on. The family had been inactive for a while, and my friend was able to visit with them that same week. They have since re-engaged in the church.
A month later, the young man I had met in jail was released. He moved back to his home state, but to a different town. A relatively small, rural one. He called and asked if I knew any good pastors in the area. He didn’t just want to walk in cold without an introduction. In 30 minutes’ time, I was able to give him the name of the local Methodist pastor, while a friend who knew the pastor called the church to tell them about this young man seeking a church.
The Methodist connection amazes me. Someone can move into a rural town in another state, and I can make a personal introduction to a recommended pastor within 30 minutes. A family that has disappeared from the church can have a crisis, and within hours, I can have a trusted friend on their doorstep. I’ve seen that Methodist system work time after time, and I’m continually amazed by it. As I have understood it, few others have this sort of connection.
2. The Methodist Connection and Revival
I agree with my friend Bill Arnold, who says, “If revival is going to come in America, the Methodists have the best shot.” Because when we catch fire in one place, our connection makes it possible for that fire to spread well.
I don’t know if that will truly happen. The most visible point of our connection — General Conference — sure didn’t give anyone hope for revival this year. But we have a better shot at fire spreading than those who are unconnected have.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief is a shining star within the major Methodist bureaucracy. When disaster strikes anywhere around the globe, they are among the first responders. Charitywatch.org gives them an A rating for their use of funds. And they provide opportunity for me to be on the ground, or get others on the ground, for long-term relief and development work as soon as it would be helpful and appropriate.
For all the reasons I love the Methodist Church, and for all the frustrations I have with it, I think these are the biggest reasons I am still a Methodist.
For those of you who are Methodists, why are you still a Methodist?