5 Things We Believe About Denominations
Our final sermon from We Believe In Organized Religion focused on the role of denominations in the life of Christians. Why should local churches relate to other local churches? How should they relate? And is it even possible for a church to choose not to relate to other churches?
While many say we are moving into a "post-denominational" future, there is still good reason to work towards building strong partnerships with other congregations. Call them what you will (denominations, networks, a family of churches, etc.), churches bound together in a meaningful manner is a reason to rejoice. Go here to listen to the sermon.
Here are a few things we learned about denominations from Acts 15:1-41.
Denominations are biblical, not sinful.
The question isn't "Should we relate to other churches?" We are one church under God. Jesus is the head of the universal church (little "c" catholic). We already are related to one another. It's unavoidable.
So then, the better question is "How should we relate to other churches?" And guaranteed, no church is going to devise an effective plan to relate to every other church that has ever existed, currently exists, or one day will exist. That's impossible. Churches come and go and so do their denominational ties. It's ok that today we find so many denominations. You might even say more is better.
Denominations promote theological precision.
Churches have always worked together to preserve, protect, and promote good theology and doctrine. Most of our cherished creeds and confessions were the result of churches coming together...as was our very own Statement of Faith. Add seminaries, colleges, programs, and theological publications (like books) to the list and you will quickly see how interdependent churches are on this point. Every church stands on the shoulders of other churches.
Denominations facilitate mutual encouragement.
We don't know what we don't know. How's that for a trustworthy statement? God is at work everywhere, at all times, simultaneously...and the view from our church is very small indeed. If the Apostles thought it necessary for churches to know what was occurring in other churches (and this wasn't gossip, it was for encouragement), you'd think it'd be good for us today as well.
Denominations provide real accountability.
What are we supposed to do when a church needs help or a teacher teaches something that's not true? Is each church really on their own or should we do something? The context for accountability is forged in moments of prosperity. We make commitments to one another. We invest in one another. And when trouble arrives (and it certainly will) we draw on mutual trust and history and love and relationship, and rush towards the hurting and needy church. Not away.
Denominations unite churches. Independence divides them.
Associations are built on the principle of our union with Christ, not pragmatism. Not efficiency. Not practicality. We consider the interests of other churches (where possible) above our own. There are times when it's right to sever your ties, but let's not pick our friends based on the benefits we hope to receive. Let's choose partners we can promote and bless and love...in good times and bad...like Jesus does for us.