Thursday, July 06, 2006

Church Options - Day 5

The fifth option for a church that has EXTREME differences with the PCUSA is to leave the denomination and become an independent church (non-denominational might be the appropriate title).

Why would a church seriously consider this option after being affiliated with a denomination? To put it bluntly, the denominational age is a thing of the past. Oh sure, there are denominations and denominations will continue to exist. There was a time when “brand loyalty” was important: a family would buy a Chevy and never a Ford, a person would only vote “Republican” or “Democrat,” a person would be a Baptist or a Presbyterian until the day they die. Such brand loyalty is NO MORE! This shift has to do with institutional mistrust, shifts in the basic beliefs of denominations and from a “perceived” separation between the people-in-the-pews and governing body leadership. People want to have more control over how their giving dollars are spent. Many denominational seminaries have shifted so far to the theological left that people interested in the pastoral ministry go to non-denominational seminaries to get a better biblical foundation for ministry (I am one of those people!). So why would a church consider becoming a non-denominational church? Many of the “benefits” of the denominational system are no longer there for the local congregation.

An independent church does not have to feel all alone. Twenty years ago the situation was very different. Today, a church can belong to the Willow Creek Association. This “association” can provide many of the benefits that use to come from the denomination. Quality, biblical CE materials a available for all ages. Small group studies abound. National gatherings provide training by leaders in the field. Jobs boards help the local congregation find a new pastor. The list goes on and on! Oh, by-the-way, the Willow Creek Association isn’t the only group out there doing this type of partnering.

This option would be particularly attractive for a church that has moved away from a “liturgical” style of worship. Those congregations that prefer the “liturgical” style would be better served looking elsewhere--the “independent” option may not be the best for those congregations.

5 Comments:

At 12:42 PM , Blogger Quotidian Grace said...

There is a large and fairly successful "independent Presbyterian" church in Houston. Of course, the term "independent Presbyterian" is an oxymoron, but they claim they are "presbyterian" because they have a presbyterian form of church government. It just doesn't extend beyond the local session.

I've always wondered why they don't join the PCA, because their theology fits PCA and they don't ordain women, either. I don't know the history of their origin, but my guess is that they want to be a law unto themselves. Totally.

 
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