A few days ago, I posted an article where I said that I would identify myself as “anti-denominational.” This was in response to the question “what are you?” with respect to my church affiliation. As I begin to explain my thinking, it is important that I make a few things clear on the front end.
First, I am by no means angry. I have been blessed richly by the various churches that I have been associated with as a congregant and as a leader.
Second, neither I, nor my family have ever been “injured” in any way whatsoever by any individual church leader, congregation, or denomination.
Third, I am not suggesting that anyone should abandon their affiliation with any particular church or denomination. Perceiving myself to be “anti-denominational” is a personal matter and not a cause that I am teaching, aside from explaining myself here.
Fourth, I am in no way suggesting that an effort ought to be put forth to seek the demise of the denominations. My self-description as “anti-denominational” is not a personal call-to-action to bring about this end, and I am certainly not suggesting anyone else should either. Furthermore, I am not sure any particular deconstruction effort needs to be put forth, as the denominations are doing a remarkably fine job of moving themselves toward extinction.
Fifth, while I don’t expect everyone (or more realistically, anyone) to agree with my views, they do not come without being informed by personal experience. I am not just a spectator on the sidelines throwing rocks. Our family has moved geographically several times. These moves have afforded us the opportunity to become associated with a variety of churches. I currently worship in a church in a small rural town that is a part of a large mainline denomination. We love the people that make up this church and we have been made to feel welcome to a greater degree than we might have originally expected. I do not agree with all of the theology that represents the doctrinal underpinnings of the denomination, but I have a wonderful relationship with the pastor, and we challenge each other in our differences with a mutual respect and affection for one another.
Before we moved to the country, we were members of a church in a large city that described itself as inter-denominational. However, it had decided leanings toward the particular denomination that was the basis of the pastor’s seminary education and original ordination. For several years prior to that, our family worshiped in a church that was a member of a large denomination, different from the one we currently fellowship with. And in yet another city, I was ordained as an elder of a large mainline protestant denomination different from the two mentioned above.
While these transitions might appear to be the product of some sort of theological indecisiveness, or “shopping,” I can assure you that was not the case. The theology that I profess and which can be found stated elsewhere on this site, is not a new formation by any stretch of the imagination. We were very intentional about each church decision we have made, have not regretted any of them, and have benefited from each. And those benefits have not been limited to discipleship. Being a part of these various denominations have also provided an inside look at the way a variety of denominations operate. They have helped to form my denominational worldview.
More another time.