New to Methodism -- Book Recommendations

I’ve started attending a Methodist church and, before long, will be joining. However, I don’t hardly know anything about it. I was raised in a non-denominational atmosphere, so my knowledge of the practices and beliefs of anyone else is incredibly limited. I’m not really looking so much for the history of John Wesley or anything, but to understand more about things I’ve never experienced in this context… Lent, cantors, liturgies, Bishops, etc. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.

Most Methodist churches have a series of classes called Disciple which, though long, will give you the best insight into their beliefs. In a nutshell Methodists are on the liberal end of the belief spectrum favoring actions over dogma.

Do you mean justification by faith vs justification by works? Because that’s endless GD territory. :eek: FTR I’m a solid works guy, and understand the Methodists tend more faith.

As for the OP, I have found that one thing every large denomination is happy to provide all of the information you need. (thinking) Strike that. I was librarian for a Lutheran church and still have no idea how their beliefs differ from my cranky-Catholic beliefs on those days I’m not an atheist. No instructions on how to do every last thing, like the RCC has. But the RCC has had 1500 more years to argue over little things than the Lutherans and the Methodists are newbies at under 300 years.

Try your pastor and

Never understood the problem people have with this. Both are in the Bible, with explanations with how they are compatible. You’re saved by faith, but true faith will also make you do the required works.

Ah, I did not know that. Fortunately, I was enticed by their more liberal belief system, and since we now live way out in the sticks, it’s about the best we’ve got. So, thanks for the suggestion, Frazzled!

Everyone else, I appreciate the thoughts. When we pick the actual church (we’re down to two different ones with various pros and cons), I will indeed get with the pastor to learn more. Gracias.

If anyone else also has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

I don’t have a great answer for your question.

However, I’ve read a couple of books that I liked, one of which is a short bio of John Wesley:

Wesley for Armchair Theologians,

and the other of which is a well-known, but less read, Victorian novel, in which Methodism plays a prominent part:

Adam Bede.

All Protestants tend towards sola fide, don’t they (maybe not Anglican)? They differ on the nature of salvation, i.e. can you seek out your own salvation or must God choose you?

Arminianism. Also Wesleyanism. This is though of the opposite of Calvinism (Presbyterians and sometimes Congregationalists). The latter is often thought of as more dour/conservative, but not always: SBC is “mostly” Arminian.
dropzone: as a continuum of these beliefs (e.g. adjacent is closer):
That mean these beliefs about salvation, otherwise if we’re talking practice Anglicanism is farther to the left.

As someone who mostly went to Catholic church as a kid, but went to UMC often too:

Hope you like Charles Wesley’s music. He gets played a lot. Otherwise, music is a big thing, either choral or with instruments. I don’t know what percentage of a <1 hour service was music, but I’d say a good portion.

Communion: semi-spit take the first time as they give grape juice normally, not wine. They were at the forefront of Prohibition, but mellowed out in later years. Trivia: Welch’s was created for this reason. The bread is leavened, at least somewhat.

In the “Bible Belt Buckle” your choice is often Methodist or Baptist. Isn’t that why GWB is Methodist but his family from New England is Episcopalian?

Never met a Bishop. There weren’t cantors, if I have the same definition. This church may have been less traditional.

H. L. Mencken had a great quote about Methodism, but damned if I can find it now. I think he blamed Prohibition on Methodists.

Thank you. I was at a loss to name a Methodist novel, while there is an endless array of Catholic and Jewish novels.

Wife started out UMC and dismisses the Baptists and Catholics because they can’t sing. If you want free voice lessons and to learn how to sing a song you’ve never heard in multi-part harmony without thinking about it, join a Methodist choir. I blame the Welsh.

My complete spit take was that, at a Confirmation on Pentecost (who does confirmations on a high holy day?), it wasn’t considered a big enough event to warrant serving Communion. Wha??? “No, Methodists only get Communion once or twice a year.” Probably a reaction to Catholics who get a little nutsy about the Eucharist, but I like to get blessings from whomever and whenever I can.

While the ELCA Pope dropped by our church picnic once. Well, Presiding Bishop, and he lives about 15 miles away, but still.

Good question. In the South the more Conservative and traditional denominations are Southern Baptists and Church of Christ. Methodists are on the other end of the spectrum.

To people who don’t like Christian legalism the Methodist church looks like a breath of rational thought. On the other hand, they often appear wishy washy to other denominations who can’t quite put their fingers on what exactly Methodists believe.

Your statement I think is the heart of it. Methodists don’t believe there’s anything we can do (yes, I happen to be Methodist) to justify ourselves before God, we’re at the mercy of his grace. We put very little value in legalism so that leaves works.

My church has a disaster recovery group that is always ready to head to any sort of natural disaster that happens in the area (happens far more often than we’d like). We build a house a year and give it to a poor family for cost of materials only. We run a shelter, we contribute heavily to food pantries, and a large number of other ministries for the local community.

I’m not at all surprised to read that Methodists were associated with Prohibition. That was an extension of Women’s Rights movements at the time and Methodists have always been more progressive than other Christian denominations. It was a failure to be sure, but the more I know about what life was like before Prohibition the more I understand why it had to happen. I’m glad it ended but it ultimately had some good effects on society.

All these suggestions and information is great, guys. Much food for thought. :slight_smile: Thank you so much!

I was raised Methodist and still am in some ways even though I nominally converted to the Episcopal Church because of marriage. I like them both equally and I have never had a bad experience with either of them.

I wish I could recommend some books for you to read on the church itself but I just got that through time and classes rather than any independent reading. As others have said, the Methodist church is about as bland a branch of Protestantism as you can get and I think that is a good thing. Good works are valued over raw faith and judgmentalism is frowned upon. Methodism just tries to teach a rough version of Christianity as Jesus would have chosen as a philosopher if not the Son of God.

Fellowship is an extremely important part of the Methodist Church. It is like a social program as well as church and they take anyone that shows up and participates. Some of my fondest memories were with UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) where we hand dances, sports contests, movie days or even week long camping trips that were partially church sponsored. They have similar programs for adults in general and some just for adult women.

I attended man of my friend’s churches ranging from Southern Baptist to Church of Christ to Catholic and found the concepts quite foreign. They were all about ceremonies and fire and brimstone talk while we had little of that. It was all about living a good life and being kind to other people. There is hardly ever a reference to ‘hell’ in Methodist doctrine and not much emphasis is put on the concept of heaven either.

The Methodist Church does have a strong history and a large following so it isn’t as insubstantial philosophically as it may sound by my description. However, it is a liberal Protestant denomination that allows some degree of personal interpretation and values good works and intentions over fundamentalism. Female Methodist ministers are common. I think that drinking is officially frowned upon but I have never know any non-recovering Methodists that didn’t drink. There are no prohibitions against widespread behaviors like dancing that you will find in other churches like the Southern Baptists. There is also no speaking in tongues or extended debates over single Bible passages.

I hope you enjoy it. The only people that I have ever known that didn’t like the Methodist church were real Bible thumpers with an agenda. Everyone else thinks it is a great organization. You never hear about the latest scandal in Methodist Church because their aren’t any by design.

As a lifelong United Methodist I feel a bit ill-equipped to recommend a book because, well, heck, I’ve just lived it so long. But a few years back I did participate in a class our choir director taught while he was going to seminary. He used thisbook, appropriately named We Are United Methodists, as his text, and I did learn quite a lot. The church you are attending may have it in their library for you to borrow. Or they may offer classes for prospective members…most UMC’s do…and they may use this text. I can’t spot my copy on the bookshelves just now to review the contents, but as I said, even as a lifer I found it enlightening. Just bear in mind that every congregation is different…some like mine are very liberal and socially progressive, while some like my sister’s in Omaha are more conservative.

The Wesleys were a huge family. I had to read biographies of John and Charles when I was about 15. They were kind of interesting.

I was caught in the church kitchen once, drinking down the remains of the Welch’s grape juice. Sweet, sweet Welch’s - we could only afford ‘juice drinks’ at home. Got a stern lecture about the sanctified blood of Christ and how much worse off I would be if that had been wine. I did a spit take when I took communion at a non-Methodist church. Where’s my Welch’s?!

At my church it’s the white. The red is a very tasty port. Not some wimpy, watered-down generic red like folks drank in Jesus’ day, but a full-bodied, fortified (more alcohol added) red like He probably hauled out for His mom at the wedding feast at Cana. Moms like a little extra kick in their wine while they still pretend to be ladylike.

Hey OP, since you’re new to this you may not have heard the only Methodist joke I know. How do you keep a Methodist from drinking all your beer? Invite another Methodist.