Faith and Good Works
United Methodists insist that faith and good works belong together. What we believe must be confirmed by what we do. Personal salvation must be expressed in ministry and mission in the world. We believe that Christian doctrine and Christian ethics are inseparable, that faith should inspire service. The integration of personal piety and social holiness has been a hallmark of our tradition. We affirm the biblical precept that “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead (James 2:17).*
How We Serve**
United Methodists continue to heed the lessons John Wesley taught his followers: to live lovingly and justly as servants of Christ by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger, freeing the oppressed; being a compassionate presence, and working to develop social structures that are consistent with the gospel.
We achieve this goal by serving throughout the world in different ways. In 2008, church leadership designated four areas of ministry focus for all levels of the church. The Four Areas of Focus are:
- Ministering with the Poor
- Improving Global Health
- Growing Vital Churches
- Developing Christian Leaders
Nurture and Mission of the Church
For Wesley, there was no religion but social religion, no holiness but social holiness. In other words, faith always includes a social dimension. One cannot be a solitary Christian. As we grow in faith through our participation in the church community, we are also nourished and equipped for mission and service to the world.
“From Wesley’s time to the present, Methodism has sought to be both a nurturing community and a servant community. Members of Methodist Societies and class meetings met for personal nurture through giving to the poor, visiting the imprisoned, and working for justice and peace in the community. They sought not only to receive the fullness of God’s grace for themselves; but…they saw themselves as existing ‘to reform the nation…and to spread scriptural holiness over the land'”***
We believe that we are called to cultivate “Wholeness” and “Holiness” in our lives and in the lives of others this is what it means to participate in the Kingdom of God on earth as in heaven.
John Wesley Quotes
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as you ever can.”
“The Church is to be judged by the Scriptures, not the Scriptures by the Church.”
“The best of it is, God is with us. “
“It is well that you care for the sick and give to the poor, and serve the church and its people, but all this will not keep you from hell, except you be born again. Go to church twice a day; go to the Lord’s table every week; say ever so many prayers in private; hear ever so many good sermons; read ever so many good books; still, “you must be born again:” None of these things will stand in the place of the new birth; no, nor any thing under heaven. Let this therefore, if you have not already experienced this inward work of God, be your continual prayer: “Lord, add this to all thy blessings, –let me be born again! Deny whatever thou pleasest, but deny not this; let me be ‘born from above! and then let be daily ‘grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!'” (from Sermon 45, 1872) John Wesley
* Excerpt from The United Methodist Primer, 2005 Revised Edition by Chester E. Custer (Discipleship Resources, 2005); p. 59.
**Excerpt from United Methodist Church website on September 11, 2015
***Excerpt from Who Are We? : Doctrine, Ministry, and the Mission of The United Methodist Church, Revised: Leader’s Guide by Kenneth L. Carder, (Cokesbury), p. 55.