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Methodists vs. Baptists — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Published on May 6, 2024
Methodists emphasize a structured approach to worship and doctrine, guided by Wesleyan theology, while Baptists prioritize individual belief, baptism by immersion, and congregational governance.
Methodists vs. Baptists — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Methodists and Baptists


Key Differences

Methodism and Baptism represent two distinct branches within Protestant Christianity, each with its unique theological perspectives, practices, and historical backgrounds. Methodists, following the teachings and organizational principles laid out by John Wesley, focus on a methodical approach to faith and salvation, including the practice of open communion, and place a strong emphasis on social justice and community service. Baptists, on the other hand, stress the importance of individual conversion experiences, believer's baptism by full immersion, and uphold the autonomy of the local congregation.
One key doctrinal difference lies in the sacrament of baptism. Methodists practice infant baptism, seeing it as a covenant between God, the child, and the community, and also offer believer's baptism for those converted later in life. Baptists, however, believe in baptism only for those who have made a personal profession of faith, strictly adhering to baptism by immersion as a public declaration of faith and obedience.
The governance structure of the two denominations also differs significantly. Methodists have a more hierarchical organization, with bishops and conferences playing a central role in church governance, decision-making, and the appointment of clergy. Baptists value congregational autonomy, where each local church is self-governing and makes decisions independently, including the selection of their pastor.
Worship styles between Methodists and Baptists can vary, but Methodists generally follow a more liturgical format that might include a set liturgy, hymns, and a sermon. Baptist services are often characterized by a significant emphasis on preaching and may include contemporary worship music, with the congregation's participation in decision-making regarding worship practices.
While both denominations share a commitment to the authority of the Bible, their theological emphasis diverges. Methodists adhere to Wesleyan-Arminian theology, which emphasizes free will in salvation and sanctification, the possibility of falling from grace, and a practical approach to living out one's faith. Baptists are traditionally more Calvinistic, emphasizing predestination and eternal security of the believer, although there is significant diversity within Baptist beliefs.

Comparison Chart


Practice infant and believer's baptism
Emphasize believer's baptism by immersion only


Hierarchical with bishops and conferences
Congregational autonomy

Worship Style

Liturgical, with set liturgy and hymns
Emphasis on preaching, varied music styles

Theological Focus

Wesleyan-Arminian, emphasizing free will
Traditionally Calvinistic, with diverse beliefs

Social Engagement

Strong emphasis on social justice and service
Individual and local church-led community service

Compare with Definitions


Followers of Methodism, a Protestant denomination founded on the teachings and practices of John Wesley, focusing on sanctification and social justice.
Methodists gather for worship in a service that includes hymns, prayers, and a sermon.


A Protestant denomination emphasizing believer's baptism by immersion, congregational governance, and the authority of Scripture.
Baptists prioritize the preaching of the Bible in their worship services.


Operate under a hierarchical structure with bishops and annual conferences.
Methodist clergy appointments are overseen by bishops in consultation with the annual conference.


Varied, with a strong focus on preaching and often includes contemporary worship music.
Baptist worship services are known for their dynamic preaching and vibrant music.


Support infant baptism as a sign of God's grace and believer's baptism for converts.
The Methodist church welcomes infants into the faith with a baptism ceremony.


Baptize only those who profess personal faith in Jesus Christ, exclusively by immersion.
The Baptist church holds baptism services for believers who wish to make a public declaration of their faith.


Typically features a structured liturgy that includes the singing of hymns, reading of scripture, and a sermon.
The Methodist worship service is guided by a liturgy that reflects their doctrinal beliefs.


Encourages individual and local church-led initiatives for community service and evangelism.
Baptist congregations often engage in mission trips and local outreach programs.


Places a strong emphasis on social justice and outreach programs.
Methodists actively participate in community service and advocacy for social justice issues.


Each congregation is autonomous, making decisions independently without a hierarchical structure.
Baptist churches select their pastors and make doctrinal decisions through congregational consensus.


A member of an evangelical Protestant church founded on the principles of John and Charles Wesley in England in the early 1700s and characterized by active concern with social welfare and public morals.


A member of an evangelical Protestant church of congregational polity, following the Reformed tradition in worship and believing in freedom of conscience, separation of church and state, and baptism only of voluntary, conscious believers.


Methodist One who emphasizes or insists on systematic procedure.


Baptist One that baptizes.


Plural of methodist


Plural of baptist


A Protestant denomination founded on the principles of John Wesley and Charles Wesley


Any of various evangelical Protestant churches that believe in the baptism of voluntary believers

Common Curiosities

What is the significance of communion in Methodist and Baptist practices?

Methodists practice open communion, welcoming all to participate, and view it as a means of grace. Baptists also observe communion, often called the Lord's Supper, as a symbolic act of obedience and remembrance, usually restricted to baptized members.

How do Baptists view the role of tradition in worship?

Baptists typically prioritize Scripture over tradition, though they may incorporate traditional elements that align with their interpretation of the Bible.

Are there diverse theological views within Methodism and Baptism?

Yes, both denominations encompass a range of theological perspectives, reflecting the diversity of their global memberships.

How do Methodists and Baptists fund their ministries and outreach programs?

Both rely on the voluntary contributions of their members, though the specific methods and priorities for funding can differ based on their governance structures and theological emphases.

Do Methodists believe in the security of salvation?

Methodists believe in the possibility of falling from grace, emphasizing the need for continual faith and good works for salvation.

Can individuals switch from one denomination to the other?

Yes, it is possible for individuals to switch between denominations as they explore their faith and find a community that best reflects their beliefs and practices.

Can Methodists and Baptists worship together?

Yes, despite doctrinal differences, Methodists and Baptists can and often do participate in ecumenical worship and community service projects.

How do Methodists and Baptists approach Scripture?

Both denominations affirm the authority of the Bible but may differ in interpretation and application, with Methodists placing a significant emphasis on Wesley's Quadrilateral (Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience) and Baptists on the principle of sola scriptura (Scripture alone).

What role do women play in Methodist and Baptist churches?

The role of women varies, with many Methodist denominations ordaining women as ministers, while Baptist views on women in ministry can vary widely among congregations.

What is the global presence of Methodists and Baptists?

Both denominations have a significant global presence, with Methodist and Baptist churches found in nearly every country, adapting their practices and outreach to local cultures and communities.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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