I have been a member of the Methodist Church since 2015. Originally, I was from a small free church background and I would like to share with you my experience of Methodism so far from a local and global perspective.
Indeed, learning and caring is really important to me about being part of the Methodist Church. I could still remember when I was admitted as a member of the Methodist church, I was reminded that I am called to worship within my local church, learning and caring through Bible study and fellowship with others, service in the community and challenge injustice, and evangelism. The weekly bible study group I participated in helps me a lot to explore the truth and to grow in faith. Besides, the group members support each other, and pray together for the sick, the church and the world. I also followed the “Great 50 Days following Jesus”, a 50-days devotion resource prior to Pentecost organised by the Methodist Church DMLN North East Team. My heart was moved by some reflections written in the booklet. Furthermore, I found the Methodist Bible Month is another great resource for me to grow in faith. Apart from learning, I also have ample opportunities to care for others. For instance, the Methodist circuit promotes Sunday offerings to Christian Aids, Methodist Homes, and Action for Children, my church also organised carolling service to the care home in Christmas. All these made me feel that my faith is growing along with other members of the church.
What makes Methodism different for you?
Methodism shares the same fundamental belief in the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ with other Protestant Christians. However, I would like to point out there are some noticeable distinctions that makes Methodism different for me.
- The Methodist Quadrilateral
Methodists learn their Christian faith through a fourfold approach. 1. Scripture, to discover what the Bible says, with the use of other resources like different translations and commentaries. 2. Tradition, to realise what the Church has taught over the centuries through creeds, hymns, songs, prayers, poetry, Christian art etc. 3. Reason, to use our own critical thinking to interpret both the scripture and tradition. 4. Experience, to learn through the experience of the Holy Spirit working in our lives and in our world. This Methodist Quadrilateral provides me a solid theological foundation to encounter God in unexpected place, and to explore God’s plan and His will in my life.
- Celebrating a common heritage
All Methodists shared the same inspiration from the life and teachings of John Wesley. We have a common heritage to share and build our faith on. For instance, attending the Covenant Sunday Services. Methodist churches normally follow the tradition of John Wesley to hold an annual renewal of their covenant with God. During that Service, the original covenant prayer given by John Wesley is often used with minor amendments. Indeed, I quite like the idea of renewing the Covenant annually as this can refresh our faith journey and I do not often find it in the free churches.
- Great diversity
Unlike a small local free church, the Methodist Church is a global denomination of having 80 member churches in over 130 countries. People in different races and culture all over the world are united by faith as a big family. However, there is great diversity among different churches. For instance, local Methodist Churches are free to choose their own bible translations and hymn books for use in their Sunday service. They are also free to adopt different worship styles and musical instruments. Furthermore, the Methodist Church also put strong emphasis on “inclusiveness” that Jesus Christ died for all of humanity, but not just for a limited group of people.
What does it mean for you to be part of a global denomination?
I think mutual support is very important to be part of a global denomination. I will pay more attention by not just looking at the needs of the local church, but also recognising the needs of the other Methodist Churches around the world. For instance, through the Methodist Prayer Handbook, I can pray for the needs of other Methodist churches or mission in other countries. Besides, as a member of the Newcastle Chinese Methodist Church, I also provided hospitality to the youth visitors from the Hong Kong Methodist Church. They attended the 3Generate youth conference and then visited our Church. They gave me a wooden cross as a gift which shows Faith, Hope, Love in Chinese. As a Methodist Church member, I think we can be gathering as one to make a difference, to support each other and be united for evangelism.