Brad Brady: Why I Am a United Methodist Today
My spiritual journey began in the Methodist Church. The first church I knew anything about was a Methodist Church in Statesboro, Georgia, USA. I was baptized soon after my birth at this church. My earliest awareness of “church” was in my early childhood when my parents joined a group of others to plant a new Church on the other side of town.
Those early years were formative in many ways. Being a minister was in my heart long before I received and responded to a call to preach as an adult. I can remember coming home from church as a young child, putting on my Father’s dress shirt, grabbing the family Bible and going to the carport to preach. I repeated as much as what I could remember the pastor saying that morning. Our backyard neighbor would be on his porch listening attentively and with encouragement.
So, I am a United Methodist today, in part, because it is the church I was exposed to as a child.
Through the years, I have explored and embraced the spiritual richness of The United Methodist Church. It is because of this personal experience with these emphases that I remain a United Methodist today.
- Theological balance—United Methodists believe that God is the source of our salvation. We are saved by the undeserved love of God. Yet, we receive this gift through faith in Jesus Christ. Our response to God’s love is vital to our journey as disciples of Jesus. I believe our theology best articulates this “invitation and response” pattern, which is a fundamental aspect of our life-long relationship with God.
- Discipleship focus—United Methodists have a sense of urgency around forming disciples of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to remain a spiritual baby feeding on spiritual milk. All across the United Methodist movement laity and clergy are finding creative and Spirit-filled ways to urge every Christ-follower to grow in their knowledge and love of God. As the Apostle Paul prayed, we United Methodists want everyone to be “filled with the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
- Faith impacts real life—United Methodists understand that forming disciples should impact the world in transforming ways. Faith is not something we reserve for Sunday and the sanctuary. The biblical values formed within us are intended to influence every aspect of our lives. Assuredly, our faith and reliance on God grows we reach out to represent Christ by confronting the injustices of the culture around us through word and deed. Our desire to partner with God to restore Shalom is at our core.
- Going on to perfection—United Methodists admit that we don’t have it all together. We are still being formed into Christlikeness as individuals and as a Church. We trust the Holy Spirit to continue lavishing sanctifying grace on us. Some days, more than others, we recognize the distance we still have to travel to reach perfection. It is in those individual and communal moments of awareness that we are drawn closer to God and to each other. I feel very much at home with those who realize we have not fully reached our destination with God.
It is exciting to realize that millions of United Methodists all across the globe are experiencing and responding to God’s grace, growing as disciples, representing Christian values to their community, and going onto perfection.
We come from the smallest village to the largest city. We speak almost every language under heaven—yet, we are united in faith and mission through Jesus Christ. What a movement! I cannot think of any other place I would rather be than in The United Methodist Church.
Brad serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries in the South Georgia Annual Conference. He has been active in almost every aspect of the Church including pastoring local churches, serving as District Superintendent, serving as Conference Secretary for 13 years and as Southeastern Jurisdiction Conference Secretary from 2008-2012.