Structure and Organization

Organization and Governance

A central emphasis on connectionalism

The United Methodist Church, which began as a movement and a loose network of local societies with a mission, grew 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.

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.

One 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.

No 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.

Connectionalism shows through the clergy appointment system, through the developing of mission and ministry that United Methodists do together, and through giving.

An 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.

Decentralization of power

United Methodists are sometimes asked where their church is headquartered, or what officer is “in charge.”

Deliberately, The United Methodist Church has no single central office, no archbishop, no pope. This reflects the representative nature of the church’s organization – which also provides a system of checks and balances.

The church created a system that in some ways parallels that of the U.S. government when it came to America. The church has a General Conference, its legislative branch; a Council of Bishops, somewhat like an executive branch; and a nine-member Judicial Council, the judicial branch.

It’s helpful to recognize the structure of the church, but it is the mission, ministry and love of God through Jesus Christ that is of primary importance.

The Local Church | The Annual ConferenceClergy AppointmentGeneral ConferenceBishopsChurchwide AgenciesGiving | Summary

From United Methodism 101, an online introduction to the UMC.

 

 

 



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