Methodist Church Beliefs and Practices

Understand the Precepts and Beliefs of Methodism

Desert Church
James Marvin Phelps

The Methodist branch of Protestant religion traces its roots back to 1739 where it developed in England as the result of a revival and reform movement begun by John Wesley and his brother Charles. Wesley's three basic precepts that launched the Methodist tradition were:

  1. Shun evil and avoid partaking in wicked deeds at all costs,
  2. Perform kind acts as much as possible, and
  3. Abide by the edicts of God the Almighty Father.

    Methodist Beliefs

    Baptism - Baptism is a sacrament or ceremony in which a person is anointed with water to symbolize being brought into the community of faith. The water of baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Baptism is a symbol of repentance and inner cleansing from sin, a representation of the new birth in Christ Jesus and a mark of Christian discipleship. Methodists believe baptism is God's gift at any age, and as soon as possible.

    Communion - Communion is a sacrament in which participants eat bread and drink juice to show that they continue to take part in Christ's redeeming resurrection by symbolically participating in His body (the bread) and blood (the juice). The Lord's Supper is a representation of redemption, a memorial of the sufferings and death of Christ, and a token of love and union which Christians have with Christ and with one another.

    The Godhead - God is one, true, holy, living God.

    He is eternal, all-knowing, possessing infinite love and goodness, all-powerful, and the creator of all things. God has always existed and will always continue to exist.

    Trinity - God is three persons in one, distinct but inseparable, eternally one in essence and power, the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus Christ - Jesus is truly God and truly man, God on Earth (conceived of a virgin), in the form of a man who was crucified for the sins of all people, and who was physically resurrected to bring the hope of eternal life. He is eternal Savior and Mediator, who intercedes for his followers, and by him, all men will be judged.

    The Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit proceeds from and is one in being with the Father and the Son. He convinces the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. He leads men through faithful response to the gospel into the fellowship of the Church. He comforts, sustains and empowers the faithful and guides them into all truth. The grace of God is seen by people through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and their world.

    The Holy Scriptures - Close adherence to the teachings of Scripture is essential to the faith because Scripture is the Word of God. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice. Whatever is not revealed in or established by the Holy Scriptures is not to be made an article of faith nor is it to be taught as essential to salvation.

    The Church - Christians are part of a universal church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and must work with all Christians to spread the love and redemption of God.

    Logic and Reason - The most fundamental distinction of Methodist teaching is that people must use logic and reason in all matters of faith.

    Sin and Free Will - Methodist teach that man is fallen from righteousness and, apart from the grace of Jesus Christ, is destitute of holiness and inclined to evil. Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. In his own strength, without divine grace, man cannot do good works pleasing and acceptable to God. Influenced and empowered by the Holy Spirit, man is responsible in freedom to exercise his will for good.

    Reconciliation - God is Master of all creation and humans are meant to live in holy covenant with him. Humans have broken this covenant by their sins, and can only be forgiven if they truly have faith in the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.

    The offering Christ made on the cross is the perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, redeeming man from all sin so that no other satisfaction is required.

    Salvation by Grace Through Faith - People can only be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, not by any other acts of redemption such as good deeds. Everyone who believes on Jesus Christ is (and was) already predestined in him to salvation. This is the Arminian element in Methodism.

    Graces - Methodists teach three types of graces: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying graces. People are blessed with these graces at different times through the power of the Holy Spirit:

    • Prevenient grace is present before a person is saved. 
    • Justifying grace is given at the time of repentance and forgiveness by God.
    • And sanctifying grace is received when a person has finally been saved from their sins.

    Methodist Practices

    Sacraments - Wesley taught his followers that baptism and holy communion are not only sacraments but also sacrifices to God.

    Public Worship - Methodists practice worship as the duty and privilege of man. They believe it is essential to the life of the Church, and that the assembling of the people of God for worship is necessary to Christian fellowship and spiritual growth.

    Missions and Evangelism - The Methodist Church puts great emphasis on missionary work and other forms of spreading the Word of God and his love to others.

    To learn more about the Methodist denomination visit

    (Sources:,,, and the Religious Movements Web site of the University of Virginia.