Denominations and Unifying the Church?

(Today’s post by Marc Cannon)

Colossians 1:24-2:7

DENOMINATIONSI’m going to reemphasize few things from Wayne’s blog yesterday. Colossians is a great book! It’s an important book and gives us yet another look inside Paul steering the church towards abiding in Christ and knowing who He is, as well as learning sound biblical doctrine so that we may not lead those around us astray, as well as ourselves.

There are billions of people on this planet. Which means there are billions of personalities, points of view, beliefs and all of those are shaped by the people around them. On this planet there are 1.2 billion Catholics and anywhere from 800 million to 1 billion protestant Christians. Give or take 1 or 2. In just a little research I found a stunning statistic: Depending on what source you draw from there are 30,000-53,000 different protestant denominations practicing “Christianity” today. I knew there were thousands, but I was WAY off with my number of about 7K.

So which one/ones are “right”? That is certainly an impossible question to answer for a mere man. I tend to think the nondenominational church body I worship and commune with is right. Biblically sound, loving, giving, and nonjudgmental. I mean I’d go to war for my church family! I know a lot of people who feel the same way about the church where they worship. So how did we get all these denominations? Just as I’ve mentioned above, with billions of people on this planet, we get billions of flaws. You add the influence of Satan into that mix and we land at thousands and thousands of doctrinal differences. Some are small and some are vast.

Sadly, there are doctrines that teach biblical falsehoods and some that are just Christian by label. This is one of the reasons people look at Christians as hypocrites. Because there are so many points of view we don’t operate in unity with the Church…Christ’s Church. We could talk for days about the differences and try and tackle who is right and who is wrong, but I think what’s important here is that we grasp Paul’s sentiment and how he’s leading believers.

We typically, and we’ve all done it & do it, look at other churches differently. We get so focused on what songs are played, what type of seating we have, can we have electric-made music, jeans vs. suit and tie, communion every week or only at Easter and Christmas, can I drink or not drink, whether it’s a sin or not to break-dance….I mean it’s really mind-numbing the differences we give into.

What stands out to me in this portion of Scripture is the encouragement Paul gives believers. He gives them the key to the truth, and that’s to abide in Christ and serve Him joyfully. He encourages the Church by committing to pray for them, even those he doesn’t know and those that he’s not with. He does this lovingly and with no malice, like we take part in at times. He’s encouraging Unity by encouraging those to walk joyfully with Jesus. I think when believers break out of the walls of their house of worship and begin to see the church as Christ’s Church, lives are changed, disciples are made, revival comes and the Kingdom draws closer to this earth.

Instead of looking at other churches differently, I encourage each of you to pray for the different churches in your community and the unification of The Church. Write a hand written letter to another local church’s pastor, and let them know you’re praying for them and for our communities to come together unified to reach the world. Take some time out to specifically pray for your communities as well as The Church, because there are no denominational strongholds on Christ’s Church.

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  • Robbie Norman

    Great post Marc! As you study church history, you will find that early on much of the result of early denominations came from disagreements over critical doctrine. You could say that the Jerusalem Council in Acts ch. 15 is an example of two groups that disagreed over something considered as major and could be considered the beginning of what we would call denominationalism, and that was in year 49AD. Fast forward 1,000+ years and we have what you mentioned – thousands of denominations. Case in point, in the good ‘ol USA, there are over 60 baptist denominations! Much of the newer denominationalism is a result of splitting hairs doctrinally and more of a methodoloical “argument” on how to do church, how to live your life, etc. Some denominations start because group begin following a certain pastor/leader (that’s scary). Of course as you pointed out, we can’t forget those who teach blatant heresy and go against sound biblical teaching.

    Although I am part of a baptist church I sometimes find myself having to explain that we are followers of Christ through His Word and not followers of a denomination. AND that our church partners with other churches and ministry organizations that are like minded, but don’t have to be baptist. In other words, we are biblical, not denominational. Sometimes the word “baptist” has scared people off from our church because they say, “I was hurt in a baptist church” and they don’t want to, “risk being hurt again.” That’s a shame.

    1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
    I appeal to you brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

    The desire is for unity amongst churches. Even more so, the desire is for unity amongst the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the One who will unify and we should be praying for this to occur in communities all over this planet. I’ll be praying this.

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