Denominations - An Extended Family


Last week I was surfing around the web looking for resources about coaching and then came across an article written by George Bullard: “Denominations” which he wrote in March of this year.  In this article he identifies denominations as family which reminded me of my blog last week: “Classis – An Extended Family.” In his article, Bullard broadens the discussion to include the whole denomination. He writes, “Denominations are family – love it or leave it, you will always have one.” He goes on to write that as important as denominations are they “still teeter precariously on the verge of irrelevancy for the Christian life.”

We need denominations, we need the structures that hold us together and yet they are flawed human creations, in constant need of renewal. Bullard does not think that we can exist as churches without the denomination around us because “without them and without the ways they allow us to be people of faith together, we have no access to a God any larger than the God of our self.” But he also doesn't think that denominations have to exist the exact same way they exist right now. If the present denominations die others will rise to take their place, but we do need each other and we need structures. We need our extended family, even if it is sometimes dysfunctional. These are strong words. And, although I may not describe it with such strong words, I am wondering if he is on the right track.

We need our extended family and we need the structures that hold us together. We also need to be relevant to the Christian life. Should we as a denomination die so that something else, more relevant, can rise in its place or should we be concentrating on renewing our structures so that we can be more relevant to the Christian life?

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Even if change is for the better, I would hope it proceeds gradually. In this case, I believe that as bonds between Christian Churches in our neighborhood or town become stronger and stronger and we learn how to deal with differences in interpretation in a better manner than proceeding to create new church denominations, we can then slowly remove those denominational services which are better done locally. 

Perhaps that is one of the changes that needs to happen - that some things that now are provided at the denominational level be taken over locally.  I'm not sure what those things are but it might help to make denominations more relevant to the Christian life, since the Christian life is lived locally.