How I Got into the UMC
I am going to make every effort to keep this to the point, but that may be impossible.
As you know, I grew up in a non-denominational Christian Church, and for the hard time I gave that church in my last post, I generally liked that denomination. Sometimes a little dogmatic on some issues, but neverthelesss, I liked it. When I was in college, I first attended a "non-denominational Christian" church for a while, but it was a long bike ride from campus. Then I went with a friend to a charismatic independent church plant, which got a little "crazy" for me, then I switched to a Presbyterian church that was near campus (I really enjoyed their contemporary service and there were a lot of other college students there). That was the church where Tara and I were married.
After we moved to Kentucky for seminary, we joined Southland Christian Church, where I eventually did an internship and was Ordained. As it turned out, once I graduated from seminary, it was going to be Tara's turn to do grad school, and she was looking toward Ohio State University (or, more specificially, THE Ohio State University). Incidentally, she wanted to go there for a certain professor in her field, and he turned out to be a Bozo, but her violin teacher, Michael Davis, was a true gem.
During my final year of seminary, my leadership professor, Tom Tumblin, called me into his office with a possibility for a job... in the Columbus, Ohio area, in a UMC.
Now, mind you, I never had any intention of joining the UMC. Though seminary at Asbury, I was one of the minority (non-UM students). Most of my friends were in the UMC, and I had to listen to their complaints about the system and their boards who would sometimes demand long trips home just to ask, "How are things? Fine? Great. See you next year."
But I took a course on John Wesley and I really began to appreciate him and the movement he began. I appreciated his take on the way of salvation (though I got several different descriptions of what it means to be "entirely sanctified" - including one professor who bragged that he had attained entire sanctification, but who treated people like dirt...).
Truth be known, many times during my first appointment, I prayed that God would "release" me from the UMC. I didn't like the "hoops" I was required to go through for them to recognize my credentials (the worst of which was an awful "Local Pastors' School"). I didn't like the "I won't ever change, so don't even suggest that I do" attitude (which is by no means singular to the UMC). Oh, and I've complained enough about the beaurocracy that I don't need to say anything further about that in this post.
Yet every time, I felt God was telling me to "wait" (yeah, I probably had made the tactical error of praying for patience). In fact, I also discerned that God was telling me that I had placed myself in the UM system, so obedience to the system (hoops) was something I also had to learn.
Doctrine has not been an issue for me with the UMC. I found that my upbringing had prepared me well for UM Doctrine. Partially, this has to do with the fact that Methodism is practical more than theoretical in its doctrine. There are some practices I have some issues with - itineracy, guaranteed appointment, top-down structure... but I agree with enough to overshadow these things.