What Is A Non Denominational Church

By Nelda Powers

A non denominational church is a Christian congregation that has no ties to a larger organization. They may follow a popular pattern of worship and teaching, or they may be organized in any fashion the fellowship creates. The Bible gives only the most basic instructions for the fellowship of believers. The denominational differences are mainly man-made, according to their interpretation of scripture and traditions.

Denominations are national or international organizations that set the doctrine, or system of belief, for their member congregations. They issue by-laws, support training schools for ministers, approve the order of worship, and may own the physical property of their member congregations - buildings and land. They usually sponsor hymnals and even translations of Scripture, and may have periodicals and newsletters to keep members informed of events and decisions that affect them all.

The power that a governing body holds has been demonstrated in the news in recent years. For example, the Episcopal church in America decided to allow the ordination of women and homosexuals. This caused not a few conservative American congregations to switch their allegiance to the African Episcopalian bishop, raising legal questions of who owned the actual houses of worship. Did title rest with each individual congregation which might have built and maintained their physical plant or to the denominational entity?

Many believers like belonging to a structured belief system, whether because they grew up in it or because it fills their spiritual needs. Americans are familiar with Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Pentecostal groups. Other organizations are known as Mormon, Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, Amish, Mennonite, and Christian Scientist. This partial list shows how diverse belief systems have become.

There are other classifications, also. Catholic or protestant are the most comprehensive umbrella terms. All Christian faith groups derive from the first gathering of believers in Jerusalem after Christ ascended into heaven. Catholic monasteries are credited with preserving ancient texts with great care and accuracy.

Many believers choose to rely only on the Bible for rules and guidance. These people might find the freedom they want in a fellowship with no denominational structure and doctrine. Such believers must find a gathering that they feel is worshiping 'in Spirit and in truth'. Such congregations usually have a pastor and elders who decide matters for the group, often with input and prayers from all.

The charismatic form of vigorous praise and worship, with musical instruments and songs based on Psalms from the Bible, has become popular with many unstructured congregations. Some have Pentecostal overtones, with speaking in tongues and corporate prayer. Most of them claim to be Bible based and Spirit led and claim divine inspiration for their order of service, rather than man-made rules or traditions.

Of course, the true church is the body of believers, who make up the corporal body of Christ according to Scripture. All doctrinal and procedural differences should defer to the essential truth of Jesus as the way to salvation from sin and eternal life with God in Heaven. A non denominational church should support these truths.

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