Nondenominational Christianity

Written by Drew on July 10th, 2008

Studies have shown that Americans are losing interest in denominational affiliations. Forty-four percent of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another. The demographic benefiting the most is the one that carries people who claim no religious affiliation. People moving into that categroy outnumber those moving out of it by a three-to-one margin. These changes in affiliation are swelling the ranks of nondenominational churches, while Baptist and Methodist traditions are showing net losses.

One of the greatest needs, then, of the church of Christ in the 21st century is a strong sense of her nondenominational character. Here are some practical ways to promote this attitude:

1. Understand the Restoration Plea. Over the years man has adapted the church to every conceivable notion under the sun. There are now hundreds of different kinds of churches in the world. These religious groups are called “denominations” because they wear names that distinguish them from the whole.

This divisive attitude is displeasing to the Lord. Jesus prayed “that they all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that thye also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:21).

The Restoration Plea is a call to follow the New Testament and nothing more. By applying the unadulterated word of God to our hearts, we believe we can be the church Jesus built in the first century.

2. Discard sectarian language. I’m dismayed when I hear brethren say things like, “He’s a Church of Christ preacher,” or, “This is Church of Christ doctrine,” or, “I’m a Church of Christer.” This kind of sectarian language reduces the church of Christ to just another denomination. It isn’t enough to merely declare that we are not a denomination. When we make statements using sectarian language we betray the denominational mentality in our heart (cf. Mt. 12:34). Let our speech communicate that we just want to be Christians in the body of Christ, nothing more, nothing less.

In the first century, members of the Lord’s church were content to be called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). They didn’t have “Church of Christ preachers,” only gospel preachers (1 Cor. 9:16). And the only doctrine they knew was the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn. 9).

3. Communicate our unique approach to Christianity. We have an approach to Christianity that is not only biblical but also unique among all the religious groups in the world. This approach combines doctrinal purity with a nondenominational appeal.

Some groups can claim doctrinal purity, but since their allegiance is to doctrines advanced by manmade creeds and not the Bible, they become a denomination.

Some groups make a claim to be nondenominational and as a result are growing in America’s current cultural climate, but they have sacrificed doctrinal purity so they can remain tolerant of diverse views.

Only the churches of Christ combine these two attractive ambitions. The problem is that we’re not talking about it much.

America’s sick of division and sectarianism. It’s time the churches of Christ adapted to this new climate. We should still warn against denominationalism; Christianity remains greviously subdivided. But there’s a new spirit in America–one of tolerance and unity. I believe it to be severely misguided, but I also think it we have an advantage over many religious groups in this new climate because for the last 250 years we have stood against denominational division and have argued for simple New Testament Christianity. The world is ripe. Will we rise to the occasion?


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Matthew says:

    Great post, we have the plea which is powerful especially in today’s culture. I wrote about this a while back for the GA. Here is the article.

  2. Ashley says:

    The church is also predenominational.

  3. Bruce Ligon says:

    I commend you for the way you clearly made this much needed point. I am of the opinion that we have a wonderful opportunity in today’s religious climate to persuade people to examine the plea of New Testament Christianity. May God help us to use our opportunities wisely, and in love.

  4. Dave Brumley says:

    I am in service to the Lord with a college friend of yours, Jason Jarrett. He sent me this link and I consider myself better for it. This is an excellent post and should be a call to action to all who read it. To me the world’s slam on the Church of Christ has been that we believe we are the only ones going to heaven. Pretending that were true, the failure to serve others and reach out to others in this world by so many “members” of the Church would void that statement.

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