For nondenominational Protestants, why don't you belong to a denomination?


#1

I have noticed many discussions on other threads regarding non-denominational Protestants. For those of you who are non-denominational, what is it that draws you toward a non-denominational church? What are some reasons why you are not Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Anglican, etc.?


#2

I am currently a member of an AoG church. Mainly because there really isn’t a non-denominational church around here and I need to be a part of a church. I still consider myself non-denominational. (If it was anyone but lak asking, I probably would have ignored this thread. )

What I love about non-denominational Churches:

Diversity With Love: There is diversity in who is there. During Sunday School the diverse theologies (note we had both Calvinists and Arminians and everything in between there) spurred on Bible study and discussion that resulted in a deeper understanding of Scripture than can be had by simply having someone pronounce the truth and every nodding in agreement. I have sat between a homeless man and a affluent Business man’s family in Church. After church the business man served food to the homeless man so he would not be hungry. I have never encountered this in a denominational church. (I have seen them offer food to the hungry or other impersonal help, but not welcome them in as family even if they haven’t had a bath in a month or have other “issues”)

Unity: While we did not have the same kind of unity seen in the Catholic church (identical doctrines) there is another kind of unity there. Despite the doctrinal, ethnic, and economic diversity, we all agree on the core doctrines and we all have the same ultimate goal… Worship God, Learn and follow God’s will, Love God first and then Love others. Really, it’s like having a close-knit Christian family.
**
Humility**: With differing doctrines under one roof comes the requirement that people accept that they are fallible and may be wrong. Even the church leaders readily say that they are not prefect in knowledge and wisdom yet and will admit they are wrong when they are.

What I do NOT love about them:

**Gossip/Petty arguments: **We are all human and any family that is close (be it natural family or Christian family) also has their little problems. I often found that welcoming everyone in as “Family” and therefore closeness leads to some people who are really there to cause trouble. There also are those who do not intend to cause such troubles but are still immature in their Christian growth and succumb to petty bickering and gossip.

**Doctrinal Diversity: **While the diversity often led to indepth Bible study and other good things, I sometimes wished for someone to “Just tell me how it is.” What I mean is that the way non-denominational church doctrine works is that it only defines core Christian beliefs. Becoming knowledgeable on a subject of doctrine not on that list requires intense prayer and study, not simply asking one church leader to spell it out. In this, I think the Catholics have it pretty easy! :wink:

**Irreverence: **In non-denominational churches I sometimes get agitated when children run in the sanctuary, when worship teams forget to quiet down a bit and spend some time simply in awe of the greatness of God and other similar things. Their very real excitement about God is often dwelt on so much that they forget to be still and know He is God. Balance is important.

Looking over what I’ve written here I guess I’d say the close knit family is what is the main draw for me. In Scriptures we see Jesus with His followers doing things together, Praying together, eating together, traveling together. You become like those you spend time with.

People here on CAF seem upset by the idea of coffee shops and Bookstores in the churches. I understand the feeling they have that it’s irreverent but I also deeply understand the value of living in a Christian Church family and such things contribute to the closeness that is shared there.

Most denominations seem to be saying “We know everything, we have it all figured out. Everyone else is wrong, but NOT US!” I’m not saying people can’t know God’s Truth, just that we are all human and can make mistakes. It tends to create a cliquish sort of atmosphere rather than a family one. What if they are wrong about something? They can’t change it cause they are defined by it. As some Catholics here like to point out, The Holy Spirit couldn’t have told each separate group something different.


#3

Thanks! The reason I started this thread is because I want to learn more about nondenominational Christians and why they choose their churches rather than belonging to a particular denomination. I am not looking for any debates. All of my Protestant family members and friends are either Lutheran or Methodist. The acquaintances I’ve talked to about religion (such as neighbours, co-workers, etc.) have all been Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Church of Christ or Methodist. I really do not know anybody who attends a nondenominational church. How does Assemblies of God differ from your former nondenominational church, and how are they similar?


#4

Syele…very good and well-thought-out response.

I think the non-denom churches are full of searchers and seekers. At least they are off their rears trying to find the truth instead of pretending to have church on the golf course or something.

God bless you in your search for the truth…I must note that you would get your hunger for reverence and the awe of the great beauty of God in the catholic church.

You would also get the benefit of 2000 years of saints and scholars work chewing on the same issues your group looks at every week… and their conclusions, which is why the Catholic church is less confusing.

:smiley: Here’s hoping you come home some day. P.S…have you read any of Patrick Madrid’s series on conversions??

Love

cradle convert


#5

AoG is similar mainly just in worship style. Their doctrines are very close to what I believe (except for the having to speak in Tongues to be saved thing). This already makes it different because they actually have doctrines beyond basic Christian tenets, that are spelled out from an authority.

So far the only effects I see from having a central authority are:

  1. Sermons are sometimes on things the non-denominational preachers would avoid. Like Predestination or other thing that could be controversial.

  2. If a pastor becomes completely convinced that the overseeing doctrine is incorrect on something, has is stuck with a choice : teaching error on purpose, refusing to preach on that topic or leaving the denomination.

  3. If our pastor preaches for more than 45 min. the ex AoG Pastors in the church make a big deal out if it an stress him out. I dunno why a point should be cut off just to keep the sermon at 45 min instead of 50) I wonder if Jesus timed the sermon on the mount? :rolleyes:

  4. The family atmosphere and outreach is less personal. They don’t want it to be this way, it just is. The things I mentioned about diversity are not present.


#6

Were you a member of a nondenominational church before you became Catholic, or did you belong to a denomination?


#7

Thanks :slight_smile:

I think the non-denom churches are full of searchers and seekers. At least they are off their rears trying to find the truth instead of pretending to have church on the golf course or something.

Probably 50% of them are, the other 50% know what they believe and are passionate about it.

God bless you in your search for the truth…I must note that you would get your hunger for reverence and the awe of the great beauty of God in the catholic church.

I agree, I attended Mass for 6 years in addition to my other church. Catholics definitely understand reverence and awe! But there is no balance with other important things there.

You would also get the benefit of 2000 years of saints and scholars work chewing on the same issues your group looks at every week… and their conclusions, which is why the Catholic church is less confusing.

Less confusing, but it also promotes laziness in study. Most Catholics in CAF don’t have that problem but most people at the Parishes I attended did. 'Bible study? What for? just look it up in the Catechism."

:smiley: Here’s hoping you come home some day. P.S…have you read any of Patrick Madrid’s series on conversions??

Love

cradle convert

I haven’t read them. I’ll look for them next time I’m at the bookstore though.


#8

Actually, the majority of Catholics in a parish probably do not own a Catechism. Those of us on the fora are more interested in study. With the exception of converts, most people in my parish do not have a Catechism. My family members do not. I, myself, did not even own a Catechism until I began to study the Bible. I was never given one in CCD, Catholic high school or Catholic college. I’m sure I’ll get flamed for making that statement, but it is true of the average Catholic in the pews.


#9

Well, In my experience it was more the attitude that they didn’t need to study… it had all already been figured out. (I just mentioned the catechism because that is where things are spelled out, I didn’t mean they all had one and actually looked it up.) The total lack of desire even hunger to know more of God disturbed me.


#10

You are exactly right that catholics are pathetically catechized. I was really looking at other faiths, until I got the catechism and realized how biblical it is. This is why I call myself cradle convert. I was catholic my whole life and had no idea why. I was blown away when I began devouring the New Testament and the Church Fathers and found the catholic church right there in front of me, the root!

I value the root, the apostolic connection more than any other aesthetic, I guess.

God bless you in your continued studies

I just remembered the trilogy by Patrick Madrid… it is called Surprised by Truth… it gives a view of catholicism from dozens of other faiths’ points of view, including Buddhism! :smiley: It is fascinating.

cradle convert


#11

I think you have a point there. I have a CCC because when they first came out in English my parish bought a whole bunch and gave free copies to the current CCD and School teachers.

(So I have a first editon CCC. To this day I don’t know what the difference is between the 2. Most of the web-pages show text of the second edtion and to this date I have found the text to be the same {on what I look up})

I’m not sure if I would have gotten one if it wasn’t given to me by my parish.:o

Years later I met my hubby. At the time he was Non-Catholic. He joined the Church one year after our marriage. My parish gives copies of the CCC and Catholic Study Bibles to all those in RCIA. Hubby decline the copy of the CCC because we already had one at home. (However he did take the Study Bible…He like the idea of having his own copy of the Bible)

Hubby being a convert is more interested in have the different catechisms then me. For his birthday he ask for copies of the “Compendium” and the “United States Catholic Catechism for Adults”. So we now have them as well. :thumbsup:


#12

Before your husband became Catholic, was he a nondenominational Protestant, or did he belong to a denomination?


#13

Hmm… I would say he was “nondenominational”.
His tags from his years in the service (Air Force) say “Christian No-Preference”.

When he was real young under 7 his family church hopped. However he noted they never stepped foot into a Catholic Church. After 7 they stop going all together.

However, hubby will tell you that his parents didn’t go to church. He went because a “church” bus (an old school bus that the church bought) came and pick him up on Sundays took him to church then took him home afterwards.

Several of the churches that his folks sent him to had these “church buses”.

His Dad is more of the type… “I can find God in the woods and all I have to do is believe and live a “good” life. He’s just happy that hubby has God in his life.

His Mom attaches herself to what every fancies her at the moment.
However Catholicism NEVER fancies her… She’s anti-catholic.

His Step-Dad was a preacher…
He very rarely talks about his preaching days.
However he must have had some kind off a fall out somewhere because he doesn’t go to church either. (It’s ALMOST taboo to talk about his preaching days)

Hubby was NEVER baptized as a child…

When you listen to my hubby talk he’ll tell you at first the only reason he was sitting at a Catholic Church was because he wanted to spend time with me. (From day one, I told him that my weekends are pretty much free expected Sunday mornings. I MUST go to church Sunday Mornings and I will NOT skip church).

Then after some time he started to listen to the homilies and readings. He started to ask questions. Some questions I could answer other not. If I could not answer then I would send him to my Dad or to Msgr. to have questions answered.

We met the summer of 1998. In Feb of 1999 he started to go to Mass with me every Sunday and Holy Days (It may of started sooner then that, but I know for sure by Feb of 1999 he was with me every Sunday/Holy Day)

We married on a Saturday in April of 2000. (We went to Sunday Mass the next day).

May of 2000 he tells me that he thinks he wants to be Catholic. However is worried that it’s only because this is all that he knows…. So for several months he church hopped. I went with him (after making sure I went to Mass).

Then in July of 2000 he told me that he was tired of church hopping and just wanted to be Catholic. So he started class that August of 2000 and in Easter of 2001 he was baptized, confirmed and received first communion in the Catholic Church.


#14

It sounds like he was probably in the “seeker” category when he was nondenominational Protestant.

Hopefully, more people out here on these fora will discover this thread and be able to add more input.


#15

:yup: At least he found his way HOME. :extrahappy:
[SIGN]:crossrc:Thanks be to God.:crossrc:[/SIGN]


#16

Hi,
I concur with Syle. I probably would not have responded accept I know you and trust you are not baiting anyone.:smiley:

I go to my non-denom because God wanted me there. I know this may sound goofy but I had been meaning to visit the church for 2 years. Finally, on Dec. 7th(sat) I said Im going to go visit this church and at that moment I literally felt a push on my back(no one was around)like it was God saying GO ALREADY WOULD YOU!!!:smiley: So, I went the next day and the rest is history.

When I started to look for a church when my daughter was 2, honestly I didnt care what denomination it was as long as it taught biblical truth. I first ended up in a Baptist church where I was saved. The reason I left had nothing to do with doctrinal issues. Actually they are the same as my non-denom. The church was dying and I wasnt being spiritually fed nor my children.There were no opportunities for learning because everyone was leaving:( They have since recovered and are thriving, but I would not go back because my church is my second family. I would never want to leave.:thumbsup:

My non-denom church, besides being a bunch of true walking the walk christians, challenges me as a christian. I never walk out of service thinking Im good to go. I walk out thinking WOW I need to change this or that. I am being fed the Word of God like I have never been fed before. My kids are invovled in FANTASTICALLY GOD_CENTERED PROGRAMS!!!:extrahappy: My family is thriving(well except my hubby–wont go to church). My church really reaches out to the community(locally)and far away.

So, anyway I found my non-denom church and I are the perfect fit and God planted me here for a purpose.:smiley:


#17

One of the reasons why Christians form and belong to non-denoms is that these churches are autonomous.

No denominational headquarters, convention, consistory, council, or governing body can tell them what to teach and preach, and where to give their money. This gives the non-denom a great deal of freedom.

In denominational churches, often the Sunday school curricula, the sermons, the VBS, the youth group, even the publicity campaign is “dictated” from a denominational headquarters that is located far away from the church. The church is expected to follow the “outline” provided for them by headquarters, even if it doesn’t seem to apply to any of the members.

But a non-denom church can select their own teaching curricula. The non-denom pastor can choose his/her own preaching emphasis. Perhaps he/she senses that the people need to have a series of sermons about marriage or Proverbs or the Second Coming of Christ–no problem. No one will come in and tell him/her that he/she must adhere to the denominational liturgy. No one will “report” him/ her for veering from the prescribed course. No one from outside the church can fire the pastor.

And very important, the non-denom church does not have to send any of the offering monies away to help support a denomination. They keep every bit of their money in their own church and can choose how to use it. They can support a Campus Crusade missionary, send their own people to a mission field, start or support a rescue mission, create a television station, help support all the poor in their neighborhood, give their pastor a sabbatical trip to the Holy Land–it’s all up to the local congregation, not some group of people at the far-away denominational headquarters.

Many non-denoms feel that this freedom allows the Holy Spirit to work undhindered in their congregation. Let’s say there is an outpouring of the “sign gifts,” tongues, interpretation, healing, miracles. No one will swoop down from denominational headquarters and “investigate.”

Or let’s say the non-denom decides to start holding “contemplative candle worship.” Again, no one will swoop in and investigate the “romish” practices.

One thing that non-denoms don’t have to support with money or mouth is “sin” from a denominational headquarters. For example, many Protestant denoms are soft on sins like abortion, homosexual sex, even infidelity. A non-denom church does not have to shut up and put up with this kind of evil from their higher-up leaders.

So you can see that there are a lot of practical advantages to non-denoms.

OTOH, there are some real pitfall for nondenoms.

Often their continuance depends upon a pastor(s). When the leaders leave (death, calling to another church, quit to start a secular life, etc.), the church often folds.

Not having a denom headquarters makes it possible for a church to begin teaching heresy or lies. The pastor has such a hold over the people that many of them don’t question his/her teachings. This can lead to a cult-like situation where orthodox, Biblical Christianity is undermined.

Also, the denom headquarters can help bail out the church if it runs into financial difficulty. Without this extra help, some churches just can’t pay their expenses and end up folding.

Also, a denominational headquarters hooks up little churches with big missions. Often a small church can’t support any overseas missionaries by themselves, but when their monies are added to monies from many other churches, they can accomplish more.

One real pitfall that we ran into is that if the leadership sins, there is no one to go to, no higher up who can discipline or fire the leadership.


#18

Hi,

I pretty much agree with you. I dont know about all non-denoms, but my church does have a consitution and by-laws set up that we all(including the minister have to follow). We also have a so-called government system set up as well so what you are saying doesnt and cant happen. Our pastor is held accountable to us(the congregagtion) If we feel he is not following biblical principle we have Elders and Deacons in place that rebuke him lovingly. We do have the power to fire him if he should introduce a heresy that is against biblical teaching. I have only been with my church for 3 years but I know it started in someone’s house and by the grace of God grew into what we are today.:smiley: PTL and AMEN!!

Im really happy worshipping at my church!:extrahappy:


#19

Thanks to all of you so far. This is helping me learn a lot. :slight_smile:


#20

I am a member of the Society of Friends. I was “convinced” when I was 19 years of age. I had belonged to the Church of the Nazarene, it was my families church, we were divided by Assembly of God and Church of the Nazarene.

I am now 52 years old. Among the Society of Friends, I find the best expression of New Testament spirituality and belief…we believe in the Living Presence of Christ in our midst…the Light Within. We are not “Bible Only” Christians, as we believe in Christ we live “in that virtue and power of life which the apostles lived in…” Our faith is experiential…we do not practice 'outward forms" of individual sacraments…life is a sacrament…sharing a cup of water in His name is more important to us than the “bread and wine”, we do believe in the One Baptism of the Holy Spirit…through this Baptism we are made part of His Body…one may enter the waters of baptism a dry “sinner” and come out of them a “wet sinner”…but no one being immersed into His Presence remains the same…He is the Living Water that fills our thirst and the true Bread of Life that sustains us.

We believe as far as it depends on us to be at peace with all men…we believe that Christ who has commanded us to love one another and love our enemy will not command us to go against the greates of commandments…to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves…so we hold to a Peace Testimony that calls us to live in the Kingdom of God and His Christ in the here and now.

It is a religion of “doing the Word” not just “hearing the Word”…our worship is simple yet deep and profound as we immerse ourselves into the Living Silence…it is one of the reasons I am a Friend…

“Up until now I have called you servants, but now I call you Friends. You are my Friends if you do what I have commanded you to do.”


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