posted on October 15, 2012 at 8:35 am
How do you know which denomination of Christianity is right for you? Whether it be Amish/Mennonite, Catholic or Pentecostal, how do you know for sure?
Ah, denomination hunting: a difficult process that many Christians eventually undertake. There are so many denominations to choose from. I grew up in the Evangelical Free Church and then I attended a Calvary Chapel, which to my knowledge is non-denominational. My husband and I attended a Pentecostal church for eight years and now we’re youth pastors at a Nazarene church! Believe me, I’ve done my share of denomination hopping.
I love going to church. I love working for a church. I ask that you please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say: I’m not really a big fan of denominations. I often feel like denominations take away some of the unity that we’re supposed to have as the people of God. The Bible calls the church (meaning all Christians) the bride of Christ, and separation into denominations seems to me like separating parts of the body from the body as a whole.
Most denominations split off because of disagreements over secondary issues regarding the Christian faith. I call them secondary because nearly every denomination believes the basics of Christianity–one God, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, etc. For example, our previous church (Pentecostal denomination) believed in and practiced speaking in tongues; some denominations don’t. Amish/Mennonite denominations live very simple, communal lives, mostly without the use of technology, while many denominations embrace technology and its uses.
That said, here are my tips for choosing the denomination that’s right for you.
- As with all things, pray. I recommend never making a decision involving your faith without first covering that decision in prayer.
- Make a list of what’s important to you. What are you looking for in a church? Are you comfortable with a church that practices speaking in tongues? Could you give up your computer, iPod and any other technology? Do you prefer worship with older hymns, contemporary music or a mix?
- Know what’s necessary to your faith. Any denomination you choose should teach the whole Bible, not just parts. It’s necessary the church believes in one God manifested in three persons–God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Does the denomination value worship, prayer, baptism and evangelism? God commands all four, so they’re necessary. It’s important to know what is foundational to our faith, not just what we prefer.
- Do your research. Research the denominations you’re thinking about online. Visit the websites of churches you’re interested in and read their mission statements and core values. You can usually find this information in the “About” section of the website.
- Go for a visit. You’re never going to know if a denomination is a good fit until you visit one or more churches belonging to that denomination. Trying to pick a church based on research alone is like deciding on a prom dress without trying it on first! Go check them out. If you like it, keep it in mind and check out a few others, just to be sure.
The truth is, I don’t know if you can ever be 100 percent sure that a specific denomination is “the one.” Often, the best we can hope for is a denomination that teaches the Bible to the best of its ability and understanding.
If something about a certain denomination ever makes you uneasy in your spirit or you feel the teaching goes against God’s Word, I suggest first talking with someone about your concerns, such as a pastor or parent. Then pray to make sure your discomfort isn’t God trying to speak to you about something in your own life. If you still feel uncomfortable, it may be time to seek a new denomination.
PI girls, do you have any other advice about choosing a denomination that’s right for you?
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member [referring to hand, foot, eye, ear, etc.], but many (1 Corinthians 12:13-14).
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