Our Faith

Being a Christian

Being a Christian is about

  our understanding of God (believing)

      Our understanding of God has come through the faith communities whose stories are reflected in the Bible. The supreme revelation of God to humankind is in the person of Jesus Christ (the divine Son of God). We understand God to be the loving creator who invites us into an eternal relationship with him. Our natural human condition is one of being at odds with God's perfect nature and his perfect loving will for us. But when Jesus willingly gave up his life he took on himself everything within us that denies life and goodness and offered us instead the relationship with God that his perfect life deserves.

  our relationship with God (being)
      To receive the offer of life, we have to turn away from all that does not fit with the life of Jesus. The inner desire to make this change and the ability to do so come from God's Spirit. Christian history provides many examples of life miraculously turned around. To receive the free gift of eternal life, we have to let go of anything else that we have put in its place, especially any sense of our own ability to earn God's favour.

  our relationship with others (doing)
      Eternal life is not only about having the past forgiven and a future with God forever; it is very much about the present. God gives us his Spirit - his own presence in our hearts - to live out the kind of life that pleases him, to love one another and to serve others in the way that Jesus would. Because we are joined to Jesus, we are joined to all others who have turned to him for life. The church (locally or as a wider body) has the opportunity to address issues of justice and well-being on a scale which individual Christians cannot.

Why Methodist?

Methodist was a derogatory term applied to some earnest young men who took their beliefs seriously in terms of personal and corporate devotion and in service of others. Among them was John Wesley who in 1838 was overwhelmed with the sense of being forgiven and given a new life (he described the thrill of this realisation as having his heart strangely warmed). He and several associates began to share this good news with enthusiasm within the Church of England (of which he was an ordained minister) and out in the streets and fields. New societies of those who responded to the message were formed which met for bible teaching, prayer and mutual encouragement. Methodism was understood to be a movement which God raised up to spread scripural holiness throughout the land. Early in the nineteenth century the Methodist societies took on more of the roles of the parish church and it became a separate Christian denomination.

The Methodist Church cherishes its heritage as part of the worldwide Church and acknowledges the historic creeds which defined Christian belief in the early Christian centuries. It also rejoices in the truths re-emphasised in the Protestant reformation of the sixteenth century as well as the Methodist emphases of the eighteenth century evangelical revival. Much of the wider church has also welcomed these fresh expressions of older truths.

Methodist worship is known for it's mixture of word and music. Preachers relate the teaching of Jesus and his earliest disciples, as well as older Bible passages to everyday life, and our beliefs are ingrained through expression in hymns and songs. The service of Holy Communion (based on the meal Jesus shared with his disciples before his death) is valued as a way of remembering the centrality of the death of Jesus on the cross for us. It is also a tangible way of expressing our desire for our lives to be filled with him.

A service unique to Methodism, though sometimes held jointly with other traditions, is the Covenant Service. Usually held annually in January, it is a recommitment to the relationship with God that we have entered into. We make solemn promises renewing our willingness for God to do with us whatever he wants, in all situations and whatever the outcome for us. We offer all we have to God in response to his love for us.

The Methodist Church seeks to work as closely as possible with Christians of other traditions. In 2003 a covenant was signed between the Church of England and the Methodist Church committing us to closer working locally and nationally, and to exploring ways of removing barriers to organisational unity. The richness of variety of Christian heritage and diversity between local expressions of church life is greatly valued while aiming to express more effectively our underlying unity as the Church of God and body of Jesus Christ our head.

Worship Resources