I didn't write this article but I'm glad I read it and can pass it on. I couldn't agree more with essential premise, that we live in a post-denominational world. There isn't a week that goes by where I don't have some conversation with someone about the significance or insignificance of denominational Christianity. As a "denominational" Christian I can agree with Karl (below) that we have very valuable contributions to our understanding of faith due to denominational emphases. So, to trash denominations would be to deny the reality that God has used the to be "care-takers" of aspects of the faith journey that the entire Body of Christ needs to embrace. For every Lutheran Christian who has a deep understanding of grace and sacramental theology, our more "experiential" brothers and sisters reveal the transformational nature of the Spirit's inhabitation in our hearts. My Roman Catholic friends have opened my eyes to a rich tradition of prayer and contemplation and my Wesleyan pals (at Azusa Pacific University where I am honored to be a part of the faculty) have expanded my understanding of spiritual authority by introducing me to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (yep, look it up!). So, don't misunderstand me (or the author for that matter). Yet…or even so, I believe that the Spirit of God is up to a number of things in the 21st century and one of the MOST powerful is the traditional boundaries that have not only separated Christians and robbed them from experiencing a "fuller faith," but also knocking down the "white noise" of denominationalism in a culture and world that "doesn't care" about differentiations and has actually led to mockery, confusion and ridicule of the "unity" of the Church. As Karl says below, DISCIPLESHIP is the key to ministry in the 21st century. Pointing to Jesus? Doesn't that seem like a NO-Brainer?
The world doesn’t need more Episcopalians.
No one wakes up with a hunger to be a Methodist.
No child says "I want to be Assemblies of God when I grow up."
We live in a post-denominational world. The day of being Presbyterian because we grew up Presbyterian is ending. Actually, it’s already ended. Some of us just haven’t caught up with it yet.
People who don't go to church aren't longing to wear any of the labels church people wear so proudly and fight about so angrily. And they shouldn’t.
People who don't go to church aren't longing to wear any of the labels church people wear so proudly.
Our neighbors and co-workers have no desire to be Calvinist or Arminian, Pentecostal or Cessationist, Evangelical or Orthodox. They probably don’t know what most of those words even mean.
And they certainly don’t want to be pew-warmers, giving units, or a target demographic. In fact, when they discover that church leaders sometimes refer to them that way, they’re appalled. And rightly so.
But they all have an ache to draw closer to Jesus. Even if they don't realize it. Yet.
Keep Pointing to Jesus
When believers emphasize our differences and our labels, we add another level of distance between Jesus and the people he loves.
It’s not that denominations and theological identifiers are wrong. I wear several myself. But I only use them with other Christians, and only as a conversational shortcut. Never with unbelievers, and never to create distance between myself and other believers.
What to Do With Denominations
I don't want to blow up our denominations. And I don’t think we need to water down our distinctives. In fact, I work with a lot of denominations and I love the variety they bring to the kingdom of God.
To the degree that denominations draw people to Jesus, they deserve to exist – and they will thrive. To the degree they fail to do that, they don't deserve to exist – and they will die.
The moment our desire to convince people to join our denomination (or non-denominational church) becomes more important than making disciples, we have failed.
As long as our goal is making disciples, God can still use the resources, relationships and history of our denominations, movements and independent churches to do his will.
So join a denomination if that works for you. And support it enthusiastically. Or not.
Just keep Jesus first.
(For more on this topic, check out Are We More Invested In Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus?)