What does the Methodist Church believe about ministry?
The following includes a number of summaries and extracts from the ‘Ministry in the Methodist Church’ report to the 2018 Conference and earlier reports and Statements, offering a flavour of what the Methodist Church believes about ministry. Information about the status of each report is given at the bottom of this page.
If you are reading these materials online, you are invited to follow the links and to read on, asking:
- What is it important that the Methodist Church ‘remembers’ about its understanding of ministry?
- What do you feel might need to be rearticulated or re-visioned in light of our 21st century contexts?
- How do these extracts relate to your own understanding of ministry, and how ministry is expressed in the life of your local church?
Ministry is the way in which we exercise our response to God’s love and God’s call as part of the body of God’s people.
Any understanding of ministry begins with an understanding of, and response to, God. Methodists are part of a people called by God to love and praise God for the sake of the world.
Read on… Ministry in the Methodist Church report to the 2018 Conference, para. 1.2 of Part B
The Church is a community called into being by God to participate in God’s mission, witness to divine grace, and proclaim the kingdom of God as Jesus did.
Read on… Called to Love and Praise 2.1.1 and 2.1.7
God’s call to be set apart for the sake of the world forms the foundation of our understanding of ministry.
Read on… Ministry in the Methodist Church report to the 2018 Conference, para. 2.4 of Part B
All members of the Church are called to confess their faith and to give account of their hope. They are to identify with the joys and sufferings of all people as they seek to witness in caring love. The members of Christ’s body are to struggle with the oppressed towards that freedom and dignity promised with the coming of the Kingdom.
Read on… Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry p. 16 para. 4
Ministry is the witness and service to which the whole people of God is called, whether as individuals, as a local community, or as the universal Church. Whilst ‘ministry’ or ‘ministries’ can also refer to the particular institutional forms which this service takes, ministry is fundamentally about the participation of the whole Church in the life of Christ.
Read on… Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry p. 17 para. 7
Although all members of the Body of Christ are given particular gifts and engage in specific tasks, ministry is always corporate and belongs to the whole Church.
Read on… Ministry in the Methodist Church report to the 2018 Conference para. 4.1 of Part B
All Christians are called to continue Christ’s ministry by serving in the Church and in the world. By the Holy Spirit he equips them with spiritual gifts, for the benefit of the whole body in its disciplined life, and for its service to the whole world.
Read on… A Catechism for the Use of the People Called Methodists, questions 43-45
All members are called to discover, with the help of the community, their gifts and the tasks which they are being called to undertake.
Read on… Ministry in the Methodist Church report to the 2018 Conference para. 2.4.3 of Part B
The ministry of the people of God in the world is both the primary and the normative ministry of the Church.
Read on… The Ministry of the People of God in the World, 1990 Conference Agenda, p. 539
This means that all Christians are invited to share in the mission and ministry of the Church in their homes, jobs and in the world, through the witness of their lives and, when possible, through the open proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Read on… The Church Towards a Common Vision p. 15 para. 25
Some people are set apart as ordained ministers to enable the Church to fulfil its calling.
The Methodist Church holds the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and consequently believes that no priesthood exists which belongs exclusively to a particular order or class.
Read on… Deed of Union Cl. 4, p. 213 of CPD Volume 2 2017
“Christ has many services to be done;
some are easy, others are difficult;
some bring honour, others bring reproach;
some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests,
others are contrary to both;
in some we may please Christ and please ourselves;
in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.”
Read on… The Methodist Worship Book, p. 288
The reports referred to in this section carry a certain level of authority in the life of the Methodist Church.
The 2018 Ministry in the Methodist Church report Part B is a draft Conference Statement and currently available for study and discussion. It will be presented to the Conference for adoption as a Conference Statement in 2020. Conference Statements are authoritative documents about the faith and practice of the Methodist Church. They express our corporate understanding and wisdom and are intended to last for a considerable period of time. Called to Love and Praise is such a Conference Statement about the nature of the Church.
Clause 4 of the Deed of Union sets out the doctrinal standards of the Methodist Church, and the Catechism sets out what Methodists believe.
The World Council of Churches has produced two significant convergence texts on which we also draw: Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (1982) and The Church: Towards a Common Vision (2013). Our responses to these documents can be found here (BEM) and here (TCV).