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Christian Life

Q&A–How Do You Know Which Denomination of Christianity is Right for You?

Question:

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?

Answer:

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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23 Comments

  1. morethanideserve

    Posted by morethanideserve on June 8, 2014 at 16:44

    personally I think you should be also checking THE BIBLE for truth other than just praying. Pentecostal and Catholic churches tend to have more doctrine issues so just make sure that what they are teaching is 100% true.

    • tmgaouette

      Posted by tmgaouette on June 9, 2014 at 08:00

      I think it’s really important to know the truth about certain Christian denominations before sharing information about them. Catholic churches teach according to Jesus’ Word. Their teaching is consistent and can be traced all the way back to the apostles. You may be interested in reading, “An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine” by John Henry Cardinal Newman. Blessings, TMG

  2. faithfulgrl104

    Posted by faithfulgrl104 on December 14, 2012 at 18:34

    I am a Lutheran. Have been my whole life. I’ve visited other churches but have never felt quite as at home as at mine. Also, their is the fact that yes, denominations have their differences but there are also differences of format and style in each church within the denomination. My church specifically usually sticks to older hymns (as we have an older congregation) but my dad leads a contemporary music group that adds something modern to it. But I know that there is a range of music in Lutheran churches. I agree with the teachings of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and their stance on certain issues. I identify with it’s traditions and practices as well as it’s “style” I guess you’d say. One thing I really like is that every three years there is a national LCMS youth gathering, where literally thousands of youth will gather to worship, study, and serve together. I enjoy my denomination and it’s practices but I also realize that we should be unified as followers of Christ, saved by His death and resurrection. I am just as ready to recognize another denomination as a brother or sister in Christ as I am another Lutheran. To me, a good indicator is whether they believe the apostles creed. I am set in the fact that I will only consider Christians for a future spouse but would love to marry a Lutheran because then I could identify with him even more, and there are also little differences in the sacraments etc. that I’d like for our children to be raised with. However, I wouldn’t push away a Christian suitor just because he was say, Baptist.

  3. eleanorfish

    Posted by eleanorfish on November 15, 2012 at 18:44

    now i go to a new denomination called grace presbyterian. it started because the presbyterian denomination wasn’t generally very good at teaching the bible in new zealand. in australia where i’m from i went to several presbyterian churches. i’ve been to anglican churches, methodist churches, babtist churches, reformed church, uniting church and probably more. i loved all the churches i went to, but at each one there was something that i had to get used to. like when i was little i had only been to churches where you got baptised when you were older, but when i went to a presbyterian church i was seven and i had to get baptised, because they baptised babies. i know from experience that even in one denomination each church is different. like one anglican church i went to was really traditional but another one was really modern. i think that it’s more important to choose a church than a denomination, even though it is important, because even if you belong to a totally amazing denomination if the church you go to is no good then you’re not being taught well and it will be harder for you to grow as a christian

  4. Marcy

    Posted by Marcy on October 16, 2012 at 21:05

    I was raised Methodist, but have been going to an Orthodox Presbyterian church for almost two years now. I love it because they have very well put together theology and talk about why we believe that a lot.

  5. Project Inspired

    Posted by Cyndi on October 16, 2012 at 09:02

    I’m go to an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, so everything in the Bible is taken literally. We usually stick to the older Hymns, and they sound beautiful. I’ve gone to other churches, but I like mine the best. It’s really like we’re a big family. Even our Sunday School is called ‘Family TIME’. We’re really family oriented.

  6. JesusFreak46256

    Posted by JesusFreak46256 on October 16, 2012 at 07:39

    my church is PCA (presbyterian church of america). my parents emphasize some stuff that they dont’ talk about much, but they don’t disagree on anything. my church has given me a fantastic grounding in my faith, mostly thanks to the people, not just the message. i have developed so many godly friendships and found many mentors in that church. i cannot even explain how much they’ve helped me grow in Christ. i think a lot of whether a church is right for you depends on the people there. also, i’d like to just mention that just because a church calls itself baptist (for example) doesn’t mean each church has the exact same beliefs. in general, some baptist churches believe that miracles were for Jesus’s time. but i know a baptist church that believes that we need miracles now and that God still performs miracles. so look at the individual church, not just the preconceptions of that denomination.

  7. Paris

    Posted by Paris on October 15, 2012 at 23:56

    There’s nothing wrong with having a denomination or having one,all that matters is that you are saved,and all christians should be one body in christ,no matter how they live out their Godly lives.

  8. Project Inspired

    Posted by SarahKatie on October 15, 2012 at 19:21

    I think one thing you may want to find out is who gets to preach and how do they get picked to lead that church. Can just anyone preach, or do they have to go through some kind of education? Do they have to attend a special school for that denomination (I’m Lutheran and we have seminaries, idk what other denominations call them) or just get a theology degree from any school? This might not seem that important, but you want to make sure the person who is teaching you the word of God is well educated in the Bible and what their denomination officially teaches and isn’t just giving their opinion.

  9. HISprincess13

    Posted by HISprincess13 on October 15, 2012 at 18:36

    Im a southern baptist and we mke jokes about what we believe. I have a couple of friends go different denominations. i once told my parents my closest friend is pentacostal and the made weird faces. but…i dont see the problem. (i think theyre being jerks.) and i wanna go to her church and other denominations bc all i know is baptist. im curious.

  10. Project Inspired

    Posted by amazinchiik on October 15, 2012 at 17:39

    Yeah I’m Pentecostle and it was said already by our church that your denomination does not matter because denominations don’t make it to heaven. Saved people do. As long as you are living your life according to the bible and you are sensitive to God’s will you will be fine. I like my church we are free to dance sing and just worship 🙂 I’ve been to some churches were that wasn’t the case. Like it was evil to worship! Haha well, hopefully you choose a church where you can actually feel God’s presence. Because if God is not there then why are you?

  11. Project Inspired

    Posted by Kathrie on October 15, 2012 at 15:21

    I’m not very big on denominations either. 🙂 I believe there is not a single denomination out there that is 100% correct. It’s important to keep every one in mind though, because we can learn something from all of them. For example, Baptists have taught me the importance of repentance, Catholics taught me respect, and Lutherans taught me love.

  12. Project Inspired

    Posted by liv4christ on October 15, 2012 at 15:05

    Denominations are often given too much importance by church leaders. My dad is a pastor in a Brethren in Christ church and the most important thing to most of the people at our church is just connecting with God. Some people connect better in different denominations, so I would just reccommend that you try out a lot of different churches before you make your decision. And just remember that no matter what your denomination is, it is our job to love others!

  13. Project Inspired

    Posted by sierraw on October 15, 2012 at 14:41

    I go to a Wesleyan church and it is absolutely the most perfect denomination for me. I love it. 🙂

  14. Project Inspired

    Posted by haley_nicole_4_Christ on October 15, 2012 at 14:05

    I really want to switch churches. I just want to leave my church (Lutheran). I can’t understand anything my pastor is talking about! He uses horrible grammar (I can’t listen to people like that), and he always quotes the King James (I think it’s that) Bible, so I can’t really understand all the Middle Ages crap. :\

    • faithfulgrl104

      Posted by faithfulgrl104 on March 12, 2013 at 19:27

      haha Understandable. However, are you wanting to simply switch churches or switch denomination entirely? I’m also a Lutheran, and I can tell you that not all Lutheran churches are that, well bland. I’d encourage you to visit some other Lutheran churches. There’s actually quite a variety of styles and ways of worship. I know that some churches also use youth pastors that can teach the word in a way that’s more understandable for our generation. I’m not saying you’d be wrong to switch denominations but don’t give up on us Lutherans just yet! We’re not all, old fashioned and use horrible grammar! Lol I hope you find a church that fits you. 🙂

  15. Project Inspired

    Posted by on October 15, 2012 at 14:01

    I’m a southern baptist, and I love it! One of the reasons I like it is because of something one of our interim pastors said “I had to choose between a lot of denominations, and I asked a friend the biggest difference between baptists and the rest and he said “well, I think baptists make a bigger deal out of Jesus than most” and that was how I knew which one was for me.” We sing some of the old hymns, lotsa new ones, we have drums and electric guitars, an amazing choir and worship. We are a very missions-based church too. We also are firm believers in the saying “Laughter is the best medicine” and we take a little bit of said medicine every time we meet. I love my church.

  16. Lexi7

    Posted by Lexi7 on October 15, 2012 at 12:50

    I completely agree that it doesn’t matter what denomination you are; however, God knows if He wants you to be a certain denomination, like he knows about every other part of your life.
    I am a Catholic. I always have been, but I liked going to my friend’s non-denominational church so much that I actually thought about switching. So I prayed for a little while, and God wants me to be a Catholic. I am comfortable as a Catholic, and I like my church. It is way different than non-denominational churches, and so it’s fun visiting my friend’s church when I can, but I feel like the Catholic church is best for me. 🙂

    • morethanideserve

      Posted by morethanideserve on June 8, 2014 at 16:46

      as long as God is leading you there go there. but make sure you are also reading His Word because (I’m not saying all and I have nothing against Catholics) a lot of catholic churches I know forbid that. 🙂

      • tmgaouette

        Posted by tmgaouette on June 9, 2014 at 07:54

        Forbid what? Reading the Bible? That’s not true. Catholics listen to scripture at every mass (there are three readings) and the church encourages Catholics to read daily on their own. And all Catholic churches are the same. They are on a cycle which all Catholic churches follow. So, in fact, if a parishioner attends church every Sunday they will have heard the the whole bible read in 3 years. If you’re interested in learning the truth about Catholic teaching, you may be interested in reading “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic.” It gives a great explanation on Catholicism from a former fundamentalist view-point. For example, did you know that the Catholic church is the church Christ founded and that the pope is a successor of the apostle Peter? Blessings, TMG

  17. HurricaneMurphGirl

    Posted by HurricaneMurphGirl on October 15, 2012 at 11:25

    The church I attend is, I suppose, technically Baptist. However, something the pastor says frequently is that it doesn’t really matter what denomination you are. That’s not what God is going to ask you when you get to heaven.

    Something that is helpful about belonging to a denomination is that you know at least a little about what to expect. With “non-denominational” (which is now practically a denomination) churches, you don’t. They might believe ANYTHING.

    Another thing about belonging to a denomination, is that if you are a part of a… I don’t really know what to call it… I guess an “alliance” or “council” or “group” or something of churches, you know each other well enough that if one church is struggling, the other churches can work together to help them, whether they are struggling financially, or whether they are just in need of prayer.

  18. Project Inspired

    Posted by BeStillAndBreath98 on October 15, 2012 at 09:30

    My family use to go to some of those churches,I can’t remember what denomination they were but one of the ones we went to.Man,it was totes cray-cray.My mom told me the whole story what happened.

    Note: I am not making fun of this church.It might work for some people but not for my family.

    So my parents were trying to find a church to be apart of.They searched and found one and we tried it out.It was one of those local churches.I was a baby,probably 1. And my older brother was about idk 3 years old. We walk in and sit down.When it was about to start.These big guys were at every exit.ALL the exits. Two at every exit.Pretty much there was no way of getting out.My parents looked at eachother,my mom grabbed me and my dad grabbed my brother.They said that we couldn’t leave until the service was over no if,ands or buts we had to stay there.Then it was every man for himself. My dad went one way w/ my brother and my mom went another way w/ me. She said something and the guy let her through.My dad did the same and he got through.We got out of there so fast.Seriously wouldn’t you leave too if you were new to a church and you were almost on lockdown? We never went to that one again.

    So about some years later I was about the age of 5ish. My grandma was flipping through the tv and stopped on a commercial for this church.So next sunday she went,came back and told us about it.We went a few times and we were blown away.We weren’t fully saved yet,living saved lives so we didn’t go to every sunday.Now we are members of that church and it’s a blessing that we found them.It isn’t a denomination church.So I guess it’s a christian church? haha

  19. Dragoncactus

    Posted by Dragoncactus on October 15, 2012 at 08:54

    I’m actually non-denominational. SO my churches don’t have denominations, but it’s always a wake-up call when a friend invites me to their church. Especially Catholics.
    I’d like to say any denomination is right, but I can’t. I’ve seen some awful, incredibly judgemental churches that just persecute their own members.
    I personally prefer non-denominational churches, but if you can find a good role model and stick to that, you should be just fine.