The Challenge of Unity in the Face of Denominationalism
You may agree with my view or not and that is fine, but seeking unity in the church within the denominational backdrop seems very contradictory.
I am a pastor of a non-denomination church. A frequent question asked deals with my thoughts on denominations versus non-denomination and unit of the body of Christ.
Let me first state I have developed great friendships and relationships with several pastors in my area who lead denominational churches. Baptists, Assemblies, Vineyard, and others. We have a bond of brotherhood that has turned into a true strength for each of us. We meet each week to pray and talk, sharing lessons we are teaching, bible discussions, issues we may be having and prayer. Over time many the walls that have separated us because of our denominational associations have slowly disappeared brick by brick. We have come a long way in our overcoming division in our move toward unity.
As a non-denominational pastor, I do see the benefit of being part of a denominational organization. Denominational pastors have available to them and the church they lead resources over and above what is available to a non-denominational church.
- Financial availability, advice, and direction
- Discipline issues regarding the pastor or other church leaders
- Teaching support programs
- Seminaries and universities
- Coaching support for new or young pastors and leaders
Being part of a denomination does have its strengths, but it also creates a real challenge to unity in the church within a community. I love my fellow brothers who pastor denominational churches around me, but no matter how sincere hearts are, divisions exist within the body. There are formal and informal rules that create these divisions. Think about why there are denominations in the first place. They were not created to advance the Christian influence and ministries but created because of differences in beliefs. (1Co 1:10 NKJV Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.)
I am sure all believers and disciples of Jesus Christ would love to see a powerful body that works together strengthening and edifying the entire body. For the church to show the unbelievers the love of Jesus Christ by our love one for another. (Joh 13:35 NKJV By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”)
I cannot see how the unity of the body of Christ will occur with denominationalism in place as it is today. Why keep the denominational names and ties unless there is a need to keep some semblance of individual identity.
My brother pastors are awesome men and smarter than me for sure. I am a simple pastor and a believer in Jesus Christ and the simplicity of the Gospel that struggles with the whole notion and concept of denominations.
I can only imagine what our Lord Jesus Christ would tell us if He physically visited us here in the United States. Would He start with the moral decay we are witnessing in our society, or rebuke us in the church for our thought process and lack of unit? I am thinking the latter, for if we were as unified as the early church was, we probably would not have the problems in the church we presently have. It is hard to influence society when the church is not that much different many times.
- Love of money
- Love of self
Shall I go on?
You may agree with my view or not and that is fine, but please do not forget to pray that His Spirit influences the hearts of the leaders God has placed in His Body here in America, to do His Will and create the unity in the church body that glorifies Him and effectively does His Will. (1Co 12:25 NKJV that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.)
God Bless, John, the simple pastor