Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Denominations Are Still Needed

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Denominations Are Still Needed

At it's core, there is nothing wrong with the non-denominational movement, popularity, whatever you want to call it. The concept of being unified in our worship, not bound by denominational boundaries is a fine concept. But, it is also misleading.

I was talking with a 20 year old college student not long ago about church. He quickly and boldly informed me that denominations were "crap." They were "crap" because he didn't want to be identified with a particular group of people and their beliefs and have the stigma of denominational competition. He just wanted to "worship without the worry."

Here are two quick reasons why this doesn't hold water:

1. Non-Denominational churches are a denomination. In fact, as a general rule, churches have bent over backwards so far to present themselves as non-denominational that they have paved an even deeper set of "who we are" criteria than most denominations. Don't believe the hype my friends, when you walk in a "non-denominational" church, you are still walking into a church with a set of beliefs, rules, covenants, and membership obligations. In other words, you are still going to have to discern if this particular non-denominational church is the right choice for you and your family. There is no such thing as a church that doesn't stand on their understanding of scripture, and if there was, you would want to avoid it at all cost.

2. Doctrine. It's the lost word of the church, and still the most important. The reason denominations are still needed is because we allow ourselves to study and interpret doctrine, and then worship with a group of people who share our belief structure. Yes it's true, we take it too far. We mistake our differences in doctrine as competitive warfare, placing ourselves on the battleground of we're right, you're wrong and it shouldn't be that way. I acknowledge that is frustrating. But, in the end, it is healthy and important for a church to boldly say, here is who we are and here is why we believe what we believe. And then convey that to it's members. The problem with the non-denominational thing is not they do not understand doctrine, it is that they place it in a closet in order to attract people who are "put out" with the idea of being Baptist, Methodist, etc. But the truth is that studies show people are more turned off by the word "Christian" than they are "Baptist" or "Methodist." To bring people in with the deception of "non-denomination, we are just here to worship" and then back door their doctrine and belief structure on the members seems to be, well, not nice.

To close, I have many friends who worship at non-denominational churches and they love it. They are plugged in and serving God. But lets be informed of what they really are. They are churches that do in fact have a set of beliefs that you will need to either identify with or not. Don't be ashamed of the Doctrine of God.


Blogger Der Tommissar said...

Isn't a non-denominations Christian someone who doesn't believe much of anything?

December 01, 2005 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Rexwilder said...

As is often the case, I think that many people that are at a "non-denominational" church are using it as a response to what they perceive are the worst attributues of "denominational" churches. That is, they don't like the harping, "lines in the sand", doctrine disputes, etc. that get so much attention (while normally being a very minor part of d. churches) so that it is their way to respond. Of course (as is the case in most any "rebellion"), ultimately you have your own issues and beliefs develop in the "rebel force." But, really, I think the bigger issue isn't "don't the n.d. churches have beliefs too", but what is the underlying root of the position that d. churches are "crap" as your student so eloquently put it. Is it the "press", the structure of religion, d. issues or a combo?

Because it is one thing to hold strong to your beliefs whatever the cost, and another to have that cost undermine your beliefs themselves.

December 01, 2005 4:13 PM  
Blogger The Beast said...

der tommissar - The point of my post is that N.D. churches do, in fact, have their own set of structural beliefs, but hide them under the name of Non-Denominational. It's not accurate to say they don't believe much.

Rexwilder - At this point, the "underlying root" is the same reason why John Deere is now a cool thing. For the upcoming intellectual college student, it is the proper place to denounce denominations, hymns, and tradition as "crap" to make way for the widely popular N.D. churches. Before we arrived there, the root was, I think, an honest attempt to reach people groups who are not interested in what current churches offer. The mistake in their thinking, as I mentioned in my post, is that people are more alarmed at the very word "Christian" than any single denominational name.

December 01, 2005 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Agog said...

Excellent post. Gal. 2:20 Our identity is first with Christ alone and second with our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, withstanding the immediate culture or fear, but proudly saying who we are and what we believe.

December 04, 2005 4:53 PM  
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