United Methodists often joke about the many
organizational layers of church life, but, as members of other
denominations have been heard to say: “If you want
something done, get the Methodists to do it.” Followers of
the Wesleys are indeed “methodical” about the ways
they approach mission and ministry.
reason United Methodists are able to accomplish great things is
the church’s emphasis on “connectionalism.” It
is common to hear United Methodist leaders speak of the
denomination as “the connection.” This concept has
been central to Methodism from its beginning.
United Methodist Church, which began as a movement and a loose
network of local societies with a mission, has grown into one of
the most carefully organized and largest denominations in the
world. The United Methodist structure and organization began as a
means of accomplishing the mission of spreading Scriptural
Holiness over the land. John Wesley recognized the need for an
organized system of communication and accountability and
developed what he called the “connexion,” which was
an interlocking system of classes, societies, and annual
conferences. (UM Member’s Handbook, p 24)
local church is the total body of Christ. Therefore, local United
Methodist churches are bound together by a common mission and
common governance that accomplish reaching out into the world.
United Methodist churches and organizations join in mission with
each other and with other denominations.
shows through the clergy appointment system, through the
developing of mission and ministry that United Methodists do
together, and through giving.
example of connectionalism: Mission work around the world,
whether it be a new university in Africa or bicycles for Cuban
pastors, is the work of “the connection,” as opposed
to the work of a single congregation.