A recent conference on the future of evangelicalism raised some interesting questions about a longstanding, if sometimes controversial, aspect of the Christian faith: denominationalism. Blogger Trevin Wax liveblogged much of the conference; his recaps are well worth reading to get a sense of how the question of denominations is being approached by the church today.
At the core of the issue of denominationalism is a simple question: is it a good or bad thing that the Christian church is split into so many different denoninations? Answering that question requires addressing many other issues as well, such as how a denomination might help or hinder individual churches’ ministries, and how members of different denominations should (or should not) work with each other.
Responding to the discussion raised by the conference, this post at Blogotional puts forth an interesting reason that denominations can be useful: they bring balance to individual churches’ tendency to “over-specialize” in just one area of ministry.
…congregations, regardless of size, tend to only take on part of the total ministry that God intends for the church. They tend to “specialize.” Evangelical churches in general tend to specialize in, unsurprisingly, evangelism. And while necessary, that’s not church, that’s para-church. There is something a bit wrong when something that chooses to call itself a church is acting more like Young Life than anything else.
Narrow definitions and limited experiences do not stretch us into the people that Jesus came to make us into. Even though we are all called at different points to different specialties (gifts, ministries, vocations – insert your word here) in the church, God has also called us to be first His in ALL aspects of life. We need to experience others who are specialists in aspects that we have, but may not concentrate on. We need their perspective, and we need to learn form them.
Is your church part of a denomination, and if so, has that association been a help or a hindrance to its ministry? Do you see a tendency to over-specialize in individual churches, and does a connection to many other churches under a denominational umbrella help to keep that in check?