Your Questions

1. Who are the Methodists?

Methodists try to reflect in their lives the love which God wishes to share with all people. In worship Methodists give thanks to God who loves us and has set us in this world of possibilities. They give thanks for one another. They pray that God will continue to sustain and enable everyone to live fulfilled lives. Methodist worship is characterised by a lively tradition of hymn singing and a passionate regard for preaching the love and justice of the gospel of Jesus.

The priority of Methodists is to tell people about the Good News of Jesus and call them to faith and to Christian Discipleship. They also embrace care for individuals and communities; involvement in education and development for all, in struggling for a just world, being alongside the poor, caring for the earth and getting to know other cultures and faiths.

There are about 6,000 Methodist churches in Britain. These churches have a total membership of about 330,000 people.

There are around one million people in Britain who in one way or another have a connection with the Methodist Church. There are 70 million such people across the world.

2. How did Methodism come about?

Methodism has at its roots one person whose vision, determination and faith inspired fellow seekers to re-assess their lives and renew their relationship with God. John Wesley (1703-1791) challenged the religious assumptions of his day, urging those to whom he preached to ‘trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation’ for the assurance that we are all forgiven through Christ.

When John Wesley was at Oxford University, he was part of a small group of students who held regular meetings for Bible study, prayer and Communion. This earned them the nickname ‘The Holy Club’ or ‘Methodists’.

Wesley became a priest in the Church of England, but in 1738 had a spiritual experience which he described as God working in his heart through faith in Christ. He launched a hugely influential preaching ministry and had a flair for organising people into small groups. These he named “classes”, with locally appointed preachers and leaders, which studied the gospels and prayed together. Wesley’s new movement became a separate Church which grew rapidly throughout the 18th century and afterwards.

3. What do Methodists believe?

Methodists believe that religion should come truly from the heart, and that it has to make a difference to how you live your life.

When Methodists are “confirmed”, and become full members of the church, they make promises similar to all Christian churches. These are the same as the baptism promises:

Following confirmation the new church member joins a “class” and is given a “class ticket” which contains text as a reminder as to what a member of the Methodist Church is called to do, namely:

It upon these four statements that we at Martin Way have based Our Vision statement, namely Worship, Grow, Serve and Share

4. How does Methodism fit into the rest of the Christian Church?

The Methodist Church is the fourth largest Christian Church in Britain after the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and the Church of Scotland. It has close spiritual links with these and the United Reformed Church and other free churches.
All the Christian Churches share in common a belief that God is the creator and sustainer of all life and that the death on a cross of God’s son Jesus Christ was an act of total love which through his resurrection offers a new start beyond our wildest dreams. We share this belief because of the presence of God the Holy Spirit, who continues to move and inspire in the world today.

Methodism encourages links between its churches recognising the significant benefits in being part of a national movement. This, in Methodism, is called the ‘Connexion’. The Church is governed by the Methodist Conference - a democratically elected body which meets annually.

Local churches are grouped in Circuits which organise worship for congregations. Pastoral care is also provided. Two thirds of all Methodist services are conducted by a local (lay) preacher. Stewards and a number of other members of the church council are elected by a General Church Meeting. At every level up to the Methodist Conference itself, lay people share in making decisions alongside ordained ministers and deacons. Every individual can play a part in influencing church policy.

5. Will I really be welcome and ‘fit in’?

You can be sure of a warm welcome in a Methodist church, whoever you are and however life has treated you. And don’t worry if you have a lot of doubts and questions about God and Christianity. You’ll find that all people who go to church have a mixture of joy and pain, struggles and achievement in our lives. Christians find in church a place where we can be honest with God and with ourselves, and get support from others as we face the demands of everyday life. We are all on a journey of faith - none of us is perfect.

If there is something that you need to talk about or get help with, please ask to see the minister.

6. Isn’t going to church just an escape from real life?

No - it takes courage to turn to God or decide to explore what life might really be about. Lots of people are searching for a spiritual meaning that seems missing today. You won’t be alone. For some, life is frantically busy, juggling responsibilities that seem overwhelming and leave no space for quiet reflection. For others, there is loneliness and a lack of purpose.

As Methodists, we find in our church community a place where our own deepest questions about life can be explored. But there are also opportunities to get involved in practical care for others locally and in the wider society. Every local Methodist church looks for ways to show Christian love in action. And Methodists across the world have joined with other churches to make a real difference to major social evils like human rights abuses, pollution of the earth and Third World Debt. As followers of Jesus, Methodists care about poverty and suffering, and we don’t think the church should keep out of politics.

7. Can I get married or have my baby baptised in a Methodist Church?

People often turn to the church to help them mark the most important moments of life. Your enquiry is welcome whether or not you already have links with the church. The Church believes that it is God’s intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman. However, if you are divorced you may still be able to be married in a Methodist church. To find out more, talk to our minister.

Your baby can normally be baptised in a Methodist church after the minister has explained to you what baptism means. Baptisms usually take place during the Sunday service.

8. What happens during Methodist worship?

Methodist worship is quite varied, but you should always find:

9.What else goes on? Is there anything for the children?

Methodist churches often have a variety of activities for the local community such as coffee mornings, women’s groups, playgroups, and clubs for children or young people. Check the church noticeboard or ask the person who greets you at the church door. Often there are special activities for children and young people on Sundays. Whenever things are organised for children or young people, Methodist churches operate a safeguarding policy.

10. We invite you to take a journey of faith

You may be asking all sorts of questions about where life is taking you. You are not the only one. You may still have doubts or concerns about Christianity and the Church. Don’t let that put you off.

Do think about coming along to a Methodist church - perhaps for Sunday worship. You will be most welcome.

Text, but not format, is ©Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes, 1999, 2001