Dear Lord, in life we will face challenges and heartaches,
But through you we can achieve anything.
So we ask you, dear God to grant us peace and serenity within ourselves
So that we can go into the world to share your peace,
And to make it a better place.
We pray for those places that are at war and have no peace.
Help us to help the world,
In Christ’s name we pray. Amen
If you want to know more about membership in the Methodist Church or are wondering what it means to become a member, here are some frequently asked questions: (Membership at CMC: please contact to our minister, email@example.com)
How many members are there in the Methodist Church?
At the last count in 2013 the British Methodist Church had 208,679members. There are over 800,000 people in Britain who have an active connection with the Methodist Church. There are over 80 million such people across the world.
I go to church so surely I already belong as a member of the congregation?
Yes, you do belong. But the Methodist Church also offers you the chance to show another step of commitment by being ‘confirmed’ and ‘received into membership’. This means that there is a service in which you make promises – these are the same promises that are made when someone is baptised. A prayer for the work of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life is also said in both services. If you have already been confirmed in another denomination, you can be received as a Methodist member by a simple act of welcome.
What is the difference between Confirmation and being ‘received into membership’?
It is important to recognise publicly a growth in your maturity as a committed Christian, and to witness to your faith, and for that to be affirmed. Confirmation does that and many denominations offer this rite. Confirmation is when you publicly confirm the promises that you made, or were made on your behalf (if you were baptised as a baby). In the service the minister lays his/her hands on your head and says ‘Lord, confirm [strengthen] your servant (your name) by your Holy Spirit that she/he may continue yours for ever.’
Being ‘received into membership’ means that you are welcomed into a particular Methodist church (ie: usually your local church) which can support you in your discipleship and where you can support others. In the service, the minister welcomes you into membership saying: ‘We receive and welcome you as members of the Methodist Church, and of the church in this place.’ The minister and a representative of the local church then shake your hand.
If you move to another Methodist church then you will not be confirmed again, though when your membership is transferred to that church, you will often be formally greeted by a handshake during a service.
Why do I need to become a ‘member’ in this sense?
Becoming a ‘member’ is a way of saying that you belong to and support your local Methodist Church and that you want to do this.
Being a member of the Methodist Church means that you can hold certain responsibilities (e.g. steward, pastoral visitor, local preacher). Only members can be on the church council or be elected to the circuit meeting, district synod or the Methodist Conference.
The promise of mutual support is one of Methodism’s strengths. When you become a member a pastoral visitor or a class leader is responsible for visiting you and offering spiritual support, encouragement and challenge.
Do I have to be a member of the Methodist Church in order to receive Holy Communion?
No. Methodists believe that Holy Communion is itself a ‘means of grace’ which may well draw you on to make further commitment to Christ. Children also may receive Communion.
If you or your child(ren) have not been baptised, and you do receive Communion, your minister will suggest that you consider being baptised. (The Methodist Church has produced a small colourful book, All This for You , about what baptism means in the Methodist Church, to help adults and parents of children think about what baptism means.)
If you are an adult, it may be the right time to consider membership as well, and preparation will be offered to you.
Where does the idea of ‘membership’ come from?
The Methodist Church used to be a religious society within the Church of England rather than a separate Church. The terminology of ‘membership’ and the ‘membership ticket’ dates from that time and has stuck.
How old do I have to be in order to become a member?
There is no minimum age at which a person can become a member of the Methodist Church. However you do need to be able to understand the promises that you will be making in the service of Confirmation and Reception into Membership.
How do I become a member?
Talk to your minister, who will let you know what arrangements are possible locally to prepare you. There may be a group of people in the church or the circuit, who are considering membership. It is important that you have the chance to explore your own questions about Christian faith and the particular witness that is offered in the Methodist tradition.
The Methodist Church has produced a small colourful book, Called by Name about what it means to be a member of the Methodist Church.
If after the time of preparation you still want to be confirmed and received into membership then a service will be arranged when this will take place.
What do I have to believe or say to become a member?
The Service of Confirmation and Reception into Membership includes two questions asked as an Affirmation of Faith: ‘Do you turn away from evil and all that denies God?’ and ‘Do you turn to God, trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and in the Holy Spirit as Helper and Guide?’ The answer to both questions is ‘By the grace of God I do.’
Everyone present is then asked to affirm their belief and trust in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, as members of the universal Church which has expressed its faith in the one God through such as the Apostles’ Creed over the centuries.
After confirmation and the reception, the newly-confirmed are asked to make three promises: ‘Will you commit yourself to the Christian life of worship and service, and be open to the renewing power of God?’, ‘Will you seek the strength of God’s Spirit as you accept the cost of following Jesus Christ in your daily life?’ and ‘Will you witness, by word and deed, to the good news of God in Christ, and so bring glory to God?’. The response to each of these is ‘With God’s help I will.’
What are the obligations of membership?
The membership ticket lists commitments that members of the Methodist Church undertake:
As a member of the Methodist Church I am called to:
- worship within the local church, including regular sharing in Holy Communion, and through personal prayer
- learning and caring, through Bible study and meeting for fellowship, so that I may grow in faith and support others in their discipleship
- service, by being a good neighbour in the community, challenging injustice and using my resources to support the Church in its mission in the world
- evangelism, through working out my faith in daily life and sharing Christ with others.
What is the membership ticket?
Every member of the Methodist Church receives a membership ticket at least once a year. This is signed by your minister and give the details of your pastoral visitor or class leader.
Some members keep the card in their purse or wallet, other put in on their mantelpiece or use it as a bookmark in their Bible. It is a reminder of what you have taken on as a committed member of the Church. These commitments are described above in the answer to What are the obligations of membership?
What if I don’t want to stop being a member of another Church as well?
From the Methodist point of view, this is no problem. You may be a member of the Methodist Church and a member of another denomination. You would simply have to check with the Church you belong to now, whether they allowed this ‘extended’ membership.
How is my membership transferred from one Methodist Church to another?
Normally when you move from one Methodist Church to another, the minister of your old Methodist Church contacts the minister of the new church – (assuming s/he knows where you are moving to). If this does not happen, speak to the minister of your new church and they will contact your previous minister.
Often your new church will want to acknowledge your transfer of membership and formally welcome you. This may happen as part of a service during which the minister and a representative of your new church greet you with a handshake (as happens when a person is received into membership for the first time).
Can I hold my membership in two different Methodist churches at the same time?
Unfortunately this is not possible. However you remain a full member of the Methodist across the Connexion as long as your membership is held in one local church. There is no reason when you shouldn’t take a full part in the life of another church which you also attend. You can even hold most offices – for example, local preachers who are members in one circuit can study and preach in another circuit where they live for part of the time, with the agreement of the circuit superintendents.
I don’t go to a Methodist Church, but would like to register centrally as a member. Is this possible?
Membership is held in a particular local Methodist Church, or in a Local Ecumenical Partnership in which Methodism has a stake. Because of this local dimension, a central register is not possible.
If you never attend your local Methodist Church at which your membership is held, your name will probably be removed from the list by the minister, unless you talk it through and explain the links you want to keep.
[ from: The Methodist Church in Britain, Link: http://http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/membership]
The extract below is taken from CPD Volume 2 p. 213 which should be referred to for the full text.
Doctrine. The doctrinal standards of the Methodist Church are as follows:
The Methodist Church claims and cherishes its place in the Holy Catholic Church which is the Body of Christ. It rejoices in the inheritance of the apostolic faith and loyally accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant Reformation. It ever remembers that in the providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread scriptural holiness through the land by the proclamation of the evangelical faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission.
The doctrines of the evangelical faith which Methodism has held from the beginning and still holds are based upon the divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Methodist Church acknowledges this revelation as the supreme rule of faith and practice. These evangelical doctrines to which the preachers of the Methodist Church are pledged are contained in Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament and the first four volumes of his sermons.
The Notes on the New Testament and the 44 Sermons are not intended to impose a system of formal or speculative theology on Methodist preachers, but to set up standards of preaching and belief which should secure loyalty to the fundamental truths of the gospel of redemption and ensure the continued witness of the Church to the realities of the Christian experience of salvation.
[ from: The Methodist Church in Britain, Link: http://http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/doctrine-of-the-methodist-church]
The calling of the Methodist Church is to respond to the gospel of God’s love in Christ and to live out its discipleship in worship and mission
It does this through: WORSHIP, LEARNING & CARING, SERVICE, EVANGELISM
The Church exists to increase awareness of God’s presence and to celebrate God’s love
- What helps us to centre our worship on God?
- Where and when do we feel the presence of God? How can these experiences enrich services of worship?
- What motivates us to study the Bible?
- What helps us to express awe and wonder, thankfulness and praise, and love towards God? How can we use resources from the worldwide Church?
- What would help our worship to make sense to people who come only occasionally?
- Can we improve the comfort and decor of our surroundings and the welcome for people with disabilities?
- Is our worship much the same all the time? Should we explore styles and traditions of worship from other denominations and other parts of the world?
LEARNING & CARING
The Church exists to help people to grow and learn as Christians, through mutual support and care
- What church activities help us most to deepen our faith in God?
- How effective are our small groups, in linking faith to everyday life?
- How do we learn about the challenges of Christian life today from churches elsewhere in Britain and the wider world?
- Are there peripheral activities we should stop, to make time for our training and learning needs?
- What activities make it easy for others to join us? What links do we have with groups using our premises?
- What do we expect from our pastors? What do we expect from one another by way of support and care? Do we notice or care about those who drift away or leave?
The Church exists to be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice
- How do we discover the needs in our community and respond to them?
- Who is involved in service to the community through charities or community groups? Are there opportunities for more of us to become involved? How do we give attention to the moral issues raised by daily work?
- Do we share with one another our concerns about things which do not seem right, or cause trouble in our community, or appear unjust? How do we challenge injustice in other parts of the world?
- Are we making the best use of our premises and our money for service to the community? Are we wasting resources? Are we spending our time and resources in ways which are consistent with our beliefs and values?
- How does the life of our community, and our involvement in it, feature in the prayers of the church?
The Church exists to make more followers of Jesus Christ
- How do we develop friendly attitudes towards everyone we meet?
- Do we have a clear message? Are the words we use straightforward and meaningful to those outside the Church?
- What attracts others to the Christian faith? Are there initiatives we could take to present our convictions? Can we do this with Christians of other denominations? Where should the focus be – on church premises, or in the community?
- How can we learn about effective witness from Christians in other cultures?
- What can we do to make our premises more welcoming?
- Should we consider planting a new congregation in this locality?
[ from: The Methodist Church in Britain, Link: http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/vision-values#worship]