Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tom Ascol on Post-Denominationalism

In case you haven’t seen this yet, Lifeway has just come out with a new study on “loyalty to denominations and specific churches, as well as length and frequency of attendance.” Blogger and Founders Ministries director Tom Ascol has written a post that I think expresses some very perceptive thoughts in response to the fascinating information presented in this study.

I think the following paragraph from Ascol’s post is especially helpful and incisive…

The denominational world has changed. Ultimately, this is a good thing, I believe. Blind loyalty is never wise. By getting over that when it comes to a denominational identity one is free to pursue unreserved loyalty to Jesus Christ and out of that loyalty identify with a local church and/or denomination. Such people make the very best kinds of church members and churches comprised of such members make the best kinds of denominations.


Geoff Baggett said...

I think Tom is absolutely on target. I have a church full of people who give honor and allegiance to Jesus Christ and their local church. Many of them care very little about the issues of denomination.

I do not think this is a bad thing. But I agree that the powers-that-be in our denomination still don't get it.

SelahV said...

David: Shucks. I love being a Southern Baptist. And all the Lutherans, Methodists, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Catholic, Pentacostal and one Muslim I know who have converted over to our So.Bpt.Church seem to think we have Something their previous denominations lacked. We may not be perfect ourselves as a Denomination, but then will we ever be this side of Heaven? Personally, I'd rather fight than switch. selahV

Publius said...

I tend to see this as a cultural issue, part of the transition into practical postmodernity. And calling it a decline in "denominational loyalty" masks the true nature of the issue. It's not a matter of betraying one's denomination, it's that people today are both better informed and more skeptical of everything, not just their churches.

In other words, the American evangelical who switches churches across denominations is not saying to himself, "I think I'll stop being a Baptist and go be a Methodist for a while - they won't bug me so much about tithing."

Rather, he says to himself, "Well, I know what I believe, and it used to match up pretty well with what my SBC church professed, though of course there were always differences. But now those differences seem a little bigger, so maybe I'll try something else on for size. Hey, those Methodists seem to be striking a little better balance between moralism and liberty. Maybe I'll look into that..."

To me, this seems to question the value of denominational conformity altogether.

Grosey's Messages said...

Thank you for the reference to this issue.It is very good to recognise what is happening around us and to us.
Perhaps the individuality and diversity of each church within any denomination and the changes occurring in each individual congregation as they "transition" from whatever to whatever under each successive pastor has caused a search for identity outside of denominationalism.
The reaction against denominationalism is rather a reaction for and against changes at the local church level, and the inability of the denomination as a whole to understand and "guide" those changes.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

I find it interesting that maybe what many mis is the fact that the SBC is made up of independent autonomous churches. Maybe the issue is with those churches who try to be denominational loyal versus Christ loyal. I was raised in a church that though it was SBC, the emphasis was always on Christ and little on the SBC. Not bad when I look back! Sure helped me from trying to make a church something that God was not in as I serve as a Pastor!