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Being Methodist

Covenant Church has been a Methodist presence in LaGrange for more than 180 years.  While we are no longer associated with the United Methodist denomination, we remain a Methodist Church and part of the Methodist movement.


What is Methodism?

At its heart, Methodism is a reform movement.  Some 300 years ago a small group of people desired to see not just the reform of the institutional church in England but the transformation of individual Christian lives.  They desired for believers in Jesus to have ongoing growth in personal holiness and social holiness.  The reform of the church and in fact, the reform of the whole world was tied to individuals being made holy both in their personal lives and also in how they behaved in society and the world. 


That remains at the heart of the Methodist movement today.  We seek to be people who experience the ongoing transformation Jesus brings into our lives so that we can be part of the ongoing transformation that Jesus brings to the world. 

Why are they called Methodist?

The term Methodist began as a pejorative or at least a way of making fun of the early pioneers in the Methodist movement.  People made fun of their methodical approach to serving God, seeking transformation, and serving Christ in the world.  The residue of that methodical character remains in the Methodist movement.  We recognize that the Holy Spirit does not always lead on a schedule.  The Lord uses both systematic practices and unexpected inspiration to bring about transformation.  Today, we embrace the term Methodist because it reminds us to be intentional about our personal and social transformation. 


What do Methodists believe?

Most Methodists today and we at Covenant Church are orthodox in our beliefs.  We adhere to the established Christian faith.  There are some things that Christians have believed and professed for the past 2,000 years.  We stand in that well-established, ecumenical stream of the Christian faith.  Core to that faith are the beliefs established in the early creeds of the church, like the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed.  We believe these things because they are true and established in Scripture.  We hold to the authority of Scripture as containing all things necessary for salvation. 


What makes Methodists distinct?

While not all the following beliefs are uniquely Methodist, they are significant in distinguishing us within the orthodox stream of Christianity. 


  • Need for Grace:  We believe everyone needs God's grace.  We are not able to save ourselves.  But God's grace is universally available to every person.

  • Original Righteousness and Original Sin:  We have all been created in the image of God, but because of original sin, that original nature has been corrupted.  We have been so corrupted that we can do no good on our own, earn favor with God, or save ourselves.     

  • Free Will:  All humans have free will to follow or reject Christ because of God's grace.  Apart from God's grace, we do not have the capacity to choose or reject the gift of salvation. 

  • Need for Grace:  Grace is necessary for the entire Christian journey from conviction through justification and the entire process of sanctification.  We are dependent upon God’s free gift for all aspects of the Christian journey.

  • The Way of Salvation: Methodists have a unique way of framing and talking about the Christian journey, referred to as the "Way of Salvation."  It begins with prevenient grace, which is all the ways in which God works in human beings before they believe in Christ Jesus.  Justifying grace is the grace by which, through faith in Christ, our sins are forgiven.  This is a heartfelt trust in Christ and not merely a knowledge about Christ.  This allows for new birth or regeneration of the person and is the beginning of sanctification.  Sanctifying grace is the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that allows for growth in holiness, transforming our wills and affections so that we can live holy lives. 

  • Personal and Social Holiness:  Sanctification brings about the transformation of one's affections.  Methodists expect to experience transformation in the two areas of personal holiness and social holiness.  Personal holiness comes by grace and results over time in one genuinely disliking evil and desiring good.  We cooperate in the Spirit's transforming work by participating in the means of grace, things like public worship, the Lord's Supper, prayer, Bible study, fasting, and small group accountability.   We are also to strive through God's grace for social holiness. This involves personal moral actions and behaviors and means working for the betterment of others and the world.  This doesn't just mean charitable giving but face-to-face engagement with the poor, sick, dying, exploited, and suffering. 


You can learn more about Methodists' beliefs by reading the short book, "Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials" by Ted A. Campbell.


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