Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Should My Denomination Serve My Church?

As a denominational leader, I am often asked what our organization does to serve churches. I am pleased to be able to give those who ask a list of nearly 25 benefits churches affiliated with our missionary organization gain through their connection to us. But I confess, sometimes the question itself concerns me. Don't get me wrong, I do think that the denomination should serve the churches, not the other way around. But I wonder if the question says something about the hearts and motives of those who ask.

I did not grow up in denomination (read about my journey toward joining a denomination here). When I decided to join one, my choice was not driven by what the denomination could do for ME but how joining it would help me be more effective in REACHING THE WORLD for Christ. Isn't that really the question churches should be asking? Rarely does a church ask how the denomination can help their church reach their community, their region, the nation or the world with the gospel. This concerns me, and it should concern local church leaders too.

When churches only focus on what they get out of the denomination instead of how they can use their connection to the denomination to reach others, it indicates they have turned inward on themselves, caring more about meeting their own needs than reaching the lost. When churches focus on what they get out of the relationship, it is very similar to individual Christians who demand the church meet their needs or they will leave and go to a church down the street.

Regretfully, some denominations do not help their churches share the gospel more effectively. And it is legitimate for churches in those denominations to consider changing their denominational affiliation. Sometimes denominations have various agencies, regional offices, associations and connections that are less effective than other branches of the same denomination. In those situations, churches might consider if they can shift to a different organization or branch of the same denomination so their energy is focused on the most effective aspect of denominational life. But when a church is only connected to a denomination for what they can get out of the relationship, then something is wrong. Let us all examine our hearts and motives and ask how we can use the connections in the denomination we find ourselves in to advance the Kingdom of God, not just to increase the list of benefits available to us.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for offering some good thoughts on this. When followers of Jesus, either individually or collectively, start thinking about being served, we are no longer following Jesus. Denominations do not exist to serve churches, but to assist them.

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    1. Amen. May God help all of us keep an outward focus.

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  2. And some of the most solid writing on the application of Scripture available.

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  3. Having been in a non-denominational church and a denominational church I can see good and bad of both. Sometimes denoms can get top heavy and verge on having power issues and get caught too much into politics. The plus is the pooling of resources makes ministry very effective and helps smaller churches reach areas they would otherwise never be able to. With non-denoms churches are limited in the scope they can reach others and often reinvent the wheel so to speak. The plus is the local church's are not influenced by a large convention that doesn't really know the local church. Hope this makes sense. Personally the only thing I expect from the denomination is to follow the gospel, and use the funds collected by the local church wisely to spread the gospel.

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    1. Those are good expectations to have. Thanks for sharing.

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