What are United Methodists Known For?

Craig Groeschel wrote this in a recent short blog post:

I’m thankful for the:

  • Social conscious of the United Methodists.
  • Emphasis on being born again from the Baptists.
  • Focus on holiness from the Nazarenes.
  • Power of the Holy Spirit in the Charismatics.
  • Evangelistic hearts of the seeker sensitive leaders.
  • Message of grace from the Lutherans.
  • Attention to right doctrine from the Bible Church leaders.
  • Heartfelt worship from Pentecostals.
  • …and much more more!

I’m thankful that God uses different Christian Churches as His light in a dark world!

What are some of the differences you’re thankful for?

Does anyone else think it’s strange that United Methodists only get props for social conscious (conscience/consciousness)?  It seems to me that at our best, Methodists should embody everything on this list.  After all, you can find every one of these themes in the writing and preaching of John Wesley.  

I know the spirit of this post was likely just sort of the general ecumenical, “I appreciate things from all denominations” sorta thing, but I really see it as a challenge.  Are we just the nice socially aware denomination, or can we recover a passionate concern for justification, holiness, the power of the Spirit, evangelistic desire, grace, rich orthodoxy, and passionate heartfelt worship?  I think this is a question worth asking.

5 thoughts on “What are United Methodists Known For?

  1. This reminds me of one of Brian McLaren’s books where he goes through each Christian brand and explains how he is one of them.

    For Methodist he talks about faith being a journey and the historic system of class meetings.

  2. Hello Matt,

    I just stumbled upon your blog, and I am enjoying it.

    I certainly agree with you that Methodists should embody everything on the list.

    However, this list seems to confirm the widely-held belief that “Methodist can believe anything they want to believe.” I am a student at Duke Divinity and also a pastor, and I hear this sentiment all the time. We (Methodists) just are not known as theological giants.

    It’s time we recover (and promote) our theological depths…which are partially the impetus behind our social consciousness.

  3. When I was a kid in the 70’s, it did seem that the UMC was primarily known for social action and “believing whatever you want.” As I went through the candidacy-ordination process in and college seminary, there was beginning to be more of an emphasis on spiritual formation. I thought at the time that social action alone was leaving people, if not empty, at least spiritually dry. So folks began looking into spiritual formation to try to quench that thirst. Social involvement needs spirituality to sustain it. I also thought, and have pursued this idea ever since, that genuine spirituality needs a strong theological base. Good theology sustains spiritual formation that empowers social action.

    This is kind of a long way of saying, “Yes, we need all of these.”

    Reading Groeschel’s list reminds me of Richard Foster’s _Streams of Living Water_ where he describes six streams of Christian tradition, faith and life.

  4. Hey Matt, I am excited to hear you see this is a challenge. I served 5 years at a great UM church. We would have hoped to embodied all the qualities as well. Many UM churches do. I pray the Methodist Church (and others) becomes all these things! Blessings.

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