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Methodist vs. Presbyterian: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 3, 2023
Methodists emphasize a personal faith and good works; Presbyterians stress a decentralized church structure and predestination.

Key Differences

Methodist and Presbyterian churches both hold Christian doctrines, but they diverge significantly in their beliefs and practices. Methodists generally prioritize an individual’s relationship with Christ, emphasizing personal faith and the significance of good works in spiritual salvation. In contrast, Presbyterians typically focus on a structured, representative form of church governance and hold predestination as a central doctrine.
While Methodists traditionally adopt a more hierarchical structure with bishops overseeing churches, Presbyterians adhere to a more democratic governance, where congregations elect their leaders, revealing a pivotal distinction in church management and leadership between the Methodist and Presbyterian traditions.
In the realm of worship style, Methodists tend to exhibit more flexibility, often incorporating contemporary elements into their services. Conversely, Presbyterians might lean towards a more traditional and formal style of worship, preserving historic elements of Christian liturgy, thereby providing contrasting atmospheres in Methodist and Presbyterian gatherings.
Regarding theological perspectives, Methodists and Presbyterians exhibit discernible differences, particularly surrounding the concept of predestination, which is more prominently upheld in Presbyterian beliefs. Methodists, however, often uphold the idea that salvation is accessible to all who seek it, reflecting a distinct divergence in soteriological views.
Social and communal activities in the Methodist church are typically vibrant, as they generally emphasize outreach, community involvement, and social justice, aligning with their stress on good works. Presbyterians, while also involved in community services, may not stress social activities with the same intensity, highlighting a subtle difference in communal engagements between Methodist and Presbyterian communities.

Comparison Chart

Theological Focus

Personal faith and good works
Predestination and God’s sovereignty

Church Governance

Hierarchical with bishops
Democratic, congregational elect leaders

Worship Style

Often more flexible and contemporary
Tends to be more traditional and formal

Social Engagement

Strong emphasis on outreach and social justice
Involved but may not stress as intensively

Salvation Belief

Accessible to all through faith and works
Emphasis on predestination

Methodist and Presbyterian Definitions


Methodists emphasize a personal and emotionally driven faith.
The Methodist congregation experienced a spirited and heartfelt worship service.


Presbyterians uphold predestination in their theological beliefs.
The Presbyterian minister preached about God’s predetermined salvation plan.


Methodists often have bishops overseeing regional churches.
The Methodist bishop visited local congregations to discuss administrative matters.


Presbyterian churches employ a democratic, congregational leadership structure.
The Presbyterian congregation elected its leaders in a church-wide vote.


Methodists tend to incorporate contemporary worship styles.
The Methodist church introduced modern music to make the service engaging for younger members.


Presbyterian beliefs emphasize God’s absolute sovereignty.
Presbyterians trust in the absolute will and control of God over creation and salvation.


Methodists believe salvation is available to all individuals.
Methodists proclaim that faith and works can lead any individual toward salvation.


Presbyterian teachings often stress the covenant community.
The Presbyterian church nurtured a close-knit community, bound by collective worship and belief.


Methodist teachings prioritize good works as vital to salvation.
The Methodist church organized a charity event as part of its commitment to social service.


Presbyterians generally adhere to a traditional, formal worship style.
The Presbyterian service meticulously followed a historic, liturgical pattern.


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.


Of or relating to ecclesiastical government by presbyters.


Methodist One who emphasizes or insists on systematic procedure.


Presbyterian Of or relating to a Presbyterian Church.


One who follows a method.


A member or an adherent of a Presbyterian Church.


(history of science) One who limits the domain of science to that which can be investigated using the scientific method.


Of or pertaining to a presbyter, or to ecclesiastical government by presbyters; relating to those who uphold church government by presbyters; also, to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of a communion so governed.


Of or pertaining to a presbyter, or to ecclesiastical government by presbyters; relating to those who uphold church government by presbyters; also, to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of a communion so governed.


One who maintains the validity of ordination and government by presbyters; a member of the Presbyterian church.


A follower of Calvinism as taught in the Presbyterian Church


What is the Methodist belief about salvation?

Methodists believe salvation is available to all and emphasize personal faith and good works.

How do Presbyterians view predestination?

Presbyterians generally uphold predestination, believing that God has foreordained certain individuals for salvation.

What sacraments do Presbyterians observe?

Presbyterians observe Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, with varied practices and theological understandings across different Presbyterian denominations.

What characterizes Methodist worship services?

Methodist worship can be emotionally vibrant and may incorporate contemporary elements to engage attendees.

Is Presbyterianism found globally?

Yes, Presbyterianism has a global presence, with congregations and denominations spread across various countries.

What role do small groups play in Methodist churches?

Small groups are pivotal in Methodist churches, providing spaces for spiritual growth, fellowship, and communal support.

Are small groups a common feature in Presbyterian churches?

Small groups are common in Presbyterian churches, facilitating deeper study, fellowship, and community involvement.

How is church governance structured in the Methodist tradition?

Methodists typically have a hierarchical structure with bishops overseeing various churches.

What characterizes Presbyterian worship services?

Presbyterian worship tends to be more traditional and formal, often adhering to historic Christian liturgy.

Can women hold leadership roles in Methodist churches?

Yes, women can and do hold various leadership roles within Methodist churches.

How do Methodists typically conduct their sacraments?

Methodists observe two sacraments, Baptism and Holy Communion, with an open table for the latter, inviting all to participate.

How is church governance structured in the Presbyterian tradition?

Presbyterians employ a democratic structure where congregations elect their leaders and decision-making is collective.

Do Methodists believe in predestination?

Generally, Methodists do not emphasize predestination, instead focusing on personal faith and works as pathways to salvation.

What is the Methodist stance on social issues?

Methodists often emphasize social justice and outreach, engaging in numerous social programs and community services.

What is the Presbyterian belief regarding the Bible’s authority?

Presbyterians see the Bible as the supreme authority, guiding faith and practice while emphasizing God’s sovereignty.

Can women be ordained in the Presbyterian church?

Yes, women can be ordained as ministers, elders, and deacons in many Presbyterian denominations.

How prevalent is the Methodist church worldwide?

The Methodist church has a significant global presence, with numerous adherents and congregations around the world.

How do Presbyterians view social outreach and good works?

While Presbyterians engage in social outreach, their theological focus is often more on God's sovereignty than on good works.

Are Presbyterians typically involved in social and community activities?

Yes, Presbyterians are involved in social and community activities, though the emphasis may vary among congregations.

How do Methodists view the authority of the Bible?

Methodists view the Bible as divinely inspired, often interpreting it in a way that aligns with modern contexts.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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