Why I'm Methodist

I read a "Call to Action" in Wesley Blog along with a couple more responses to comments (here and here). It got me thinking about why I'm United Methodist. I have been part of various UM things, but never thought I would actually join a UM church. But then I did end up joining my church here and have grown quite fond of being United Methodist.

I first thought about things like how I love the history of Methodism. I love John Wesley and his commitment to both evangelism and social justice. I love his focus on the poor and working class. I love his commitment to learning. I love his focus on relationships and accountability. I'm proud to have such a man as the founder of United Methodism.

I like connectional ministry. I think it is important and helpful that all the pastors in areas know each other. I like how I feel connected to Methodists in other areas, both within this country and around the world. I never really felt that same connection in other denominations, although maybe I'm just more aware of it now. It provides support for pastors, churches and people in general.

I like the diversity. I like that the UM encourages people to think about their faith and to ask questions. I like how people may come to different conclusions, yet we are all still part of the same group. I know there are both liberal people and conservative people in my church, yet I'm still happy to worship with them.

But as I have thought more about it, those are the reasons I'm United Methodist, they are simply things I like about United Methodism. The reason I'm United Methodist lies within my church. My church loves people and they love me. They love kids and want to order things in such a way as to help them love God. They encourage us to ask questions and they help us search out the answers. They provide ways for a diverse group of people to worship, from very traditional, to active contemporary and everything in between. They are active in reaching out to people in our community and throughout the world. In short, they love God and love their neighbors. That is why I'm United Methodist, because that church is home and the people there are my family.

What does this mean for United Methodism in general? If you want the UMC to grow, forget about politics and focus on the local church! I mean how many people are going to say, hmm, I think the denomination needs more people who believe ______, so I'm going to become United Methodist? Or how many people are going to visit a local church and say, hmm, those people act like they really care and they have something that I want? Something tells me the second is going to happen a lot more often than the first.

I mean I would consider myself somewhat evangelical and my church is the same way. And here we are in the Western Jurisdiction, an area that many consider to be very liberal. I'm sure it is, but that isn't what I see in my church. I see a variety of opinions and convictions all living for the most part happily together. There are people in my church who are life long United Methodists and people who are just starting to attend church, and people everywhere in between. And the reason we have all this, because people care!

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