Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Appeal of Non-denominational Christianity

I very rarely post blogs from others writing but this one is worth a quick read. It’s by Dale Jenkins (pictured to left), who is the preacher for the Spring Meadows Church of Christ in Spring Hill, TN – the 14th fastest growing city in America…over the last year that congregation has tripled in attendance. He posted this excellent article on his blog recently. (dalejenkins.blogspot.com)

He’s thoughts pertain to a recent new survey conducted by “The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life.” This new study surveyed 35,000 adult Americans, a rather large sampling of people. One of the findings of this survey stated that 44% of American adults have left the denomination of their childhood.

Yes, the negative side of the recent of this survey, does indicate once again the tendencies of the Post-Modern times in which we live. We do live in a self-centered, consumerism culture. Many people are shopping for religion. They have a “shopping list” of things they want, and they have gone searching for those items. If the church of their youth doesn’t provide those items for which they’re looking, many apparently have chosen to abandon it in favor of a church that “meets their needs.”

But, let's look and focus on this more from the positive perspective as Dale Jenkins does in his blog below. The fact of the matter is that being faithful to God’s word and preaching His truth will actually make us more relevant and even a counter-culture because the truth we have to offer people is something unique and different than what so many are finding in "religion" today. It seems like more people than ever are searching and desiring for true, nondenominational Christianity!

Anyway, I hope you are both encouraged and challenged by this.


Pre-Non-Anti Denominational….
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life religious landscape survey made front-page news across the nation this week and appeared in several of the websites, blogs and papers I read. Perhaps most significant is that mainline denominational groups are dieing, loosing members at alarming rates. In the mean time non-denominational church are the ones growing.

Americans no longer are just "Baptists" or "Methodists" 'cause granddad was. 44% say they are not tied to the church of their childhood. Did you hear that? 44%! They are looking for authentic religion and see the hierarchy and layers of nonsensical traditions as nothing more than burdens - foolish ones at that.

I haven't heard news this good since visiting Russia in the mid-80's. Folks, churches of Christ, if we will be what we our plea claims are positioned to grow like NEVER before. We have the opportunity to become more relevant than in generations. Or not.

It's heartrending that in the very moment when people are flocking to non-denominational churches (and yes, I know all that implies) it seems some in our fellowship are running helter-skelter toward denominationalism. They are mimicking the denominational world as they jettison, ignore and refuse to discuss the things that are of priority, like the authority of the scriptures in worship, church polity and the singular nature of the church. I want to ask the most radical of them "Do you still even believe the Scriptures or has the latest "trend" become your 'Bible'?" They belittle the past and make jest of men who's heart's desire was to speak God's Word clearly. They pretend to have it all figured out - oftentimes hiding behind a degree from some prestigious seminary or school of theology (where often the teachers themselves do not even believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures). And those who follow these folks often do it for the smooth speech and sharp intellect of these or because of the ineptitude of the "right".

Just as deflating, some of our right leaning brethren seem to want to denominationalism the church by setting a prescribed agenda based on reliving glory days of old. They have deified the past as surely as the other have change. If it is a method and it works, embrace it. If it is a matter of opinion leave it in that realm. Don't judge brothers over matters of opinion nor shut doors just because the congregation you worship at is not going to embrace a practice (even if you think it an unwise one) decides to in a matter of judgment. Some of you are making easy sport of our brotherhood and I'm tempted to question if you sincerely love the brotherhood (remember that's a command). The word for those who cut brethren off over matters of opinion is "legalists". And Jesus had no words more harsh than to those who made laws over and above God's Law. How crazy when some in our brotherhood are going too far to push over the edge a brother or group for some matter of judgment. Are you too a know-it-all? Don't make sport of striking off brothers and sisters who are tying to do right!

I love my brethren on both sides of these issues, and I fear the very words written here will not serve their intent but would only cause those angry or misunderstanding. But brethren, let us not rend the church of our Lord in a time of great opportunity. Let's not shut doors that are opening and create a negative imagine for Her over our pet agendas and/or preferences.

What a time to live in - let's not squander it! Reach out with the love of the Lord in His joy with His good news. If someone is trying to break from traditions of men, getting closer to the Word of God...applaud the good. Commend the desire and effort.

Non-denominational Christianity, who'd ever thought it'd work? Well, other than God.

Dale Jenkins

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