When I was young, my family was invited to church by a close friend. It soon became the church we regularly went to. There was no deep discussion that I can remember about whether or not the denomination was right for us.
The questions we had were whether or not we were welcomed and could see ourselves as a part of the church community. I love the church I grew up in. The sense of biblical community I felt there became a foundational part of my faith.
I had no idea there was a war raging between Christians about which denomination you should associate with.
It wasn’t until I went to college when I quickly realized my denomination was labeled as charismatic and not seen as a prestigious denomination among many evangelicals. I became hesitant to share where I went to church in certain circles, because I was viewed differently as soon as people could put a label on me and my faith.
To be honest, I didn’t know enough of the differences between my church and other churches to understand why I was treated so differently. Even to this day, I am written off in theological discussions simply based on the denomination I grew up in.
The church I called home for most of my life is Assemblies of God. I went to a Baptist school for undergrad. I’m currently attending a nondenominational school for my Master of Divinity and I’m serving in an Evangelical Free Church with my husband. At this point in my life, I have been associated with many different denominations on drastically different ends of the spectrum.
Naturally the question of which denomination is the right denomination has continued to cross my mind.
Here are five questions to consider as you ask yourselves which denomination is the right one for you.
Is the teaching biblical?
This sort of seems like a no brainer, but the right denomination and right church must teach the bible. Whether you grew up in the faith or you are a new believer, being sure you are part of a bible-teaching church is a non-negotiable. As believers, we are responsible to honestly process the teaching of the church and not blindly follow false doctrine.
Paul spends so much of the New Testament holding church members responsible for recognizing false teaching and rejecting anyone who teaches anything other than the truth of scripture. We are to hold firmly to the truth and not allow any other gospel to be taught.
There are many churches today who call themselves Christian, yet they are not teaching the gospel of Jesus. They are teaching another gospel and we need to be alert and know how to recognize this.
The right denomination will teach truth from God’s word.
Is there a heart for the lost?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus’ final command to his followers was for them to go and make disciples of the nations. That is the same command the Church is to fulfill today. One of our greatest, if not the greatest, roles of the Church is to share the truth of Jesus with the lost and to disciple them in the ways of Christ.
There is only one responsibility we have on earth that will not carry over into heaven–sharing the good news about Jesus. It’s arguably one of the most important things we can do as Christians on earth. It’s definitely something the Church should not take lightly.
The right denomination will focus on reaching and loving the lost for Jesus.
Are lives being transformed?
There are many denominations that take great pride in being people of the word. This is of the utmost importance, as I stated earlier. But just having a heavy emphasis on the truth of scripture with no concern for how it affects the people of the Church is a large disservice.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
In the end, the goal of scripture is not just for us to know about God, but for the truth to penetrate and change the very core of who you are. Studying and knowing the bible finds its purpose in the transformation of your life.
Through the working of the Holy Spirit, scripture is used to help us become the people God created us to be. We are to reflect his image to our family, friends, and to the world. That is the kind of power the word of God has in our lives.
This is so much more than just making sure the Church is filled with people who have entire books of scripture memorized and their systematic theology down to a science. If learning more about Jesus doesn’t change who you are, then something is wrong.
The right denomination will emphasize the importance of our lives being transformed.
Is it okay to still wrestle?
One of the biggest things I have learned is that no denomination has it all figured out. Each system of thinking and ministry philosophy has its strengths and weaknesses.
There are many aspects of Assemblies of God that I absolutely love. One of their greatest strengths is the emphasis on the power of prayer. From the Baptist school I attended, I learned far more about the early church than I had ever known before. Their desire to learn from the early church and glean wisdom from them has not only strengthened my faith but has also built my confidence in my own faith.
But there is no denomination (or person, for that matter) that can honestly say they have every piece of their theology figured out. It’s also dishonest to say that our understanding is the only way to view things. It’s so important for the denomination to be open and humble about this truth.
God never desires for us to arrogantly hold our systematic theology over the heads of fellow believers. We are called to encourage and equip one another.
The church you choose to call home is very important, and denomination has a lot to do with that. As you find a denomination you want to associate with, it’s important you can submit to their stance on important doctrinal issues. You should be able to find a denomination that you agree with in fundamental biblical issues based on your study and understanding of scripture.
But, ultimately, the denomination you choose should never bring an arrogance or pride to your faith over other Christians.
The denomination we associate with should help bring us closer to Jesus and help us to reflect his image to the people around us.
Is it okay to disagree?
God has allowed room within scripture for believers to not agree on every single aspect of ministry. That is clear in the life of Barnabas and Paul. The two of them had different philosophies of ministry, and so they ended up going their separate ways. And yet both of their ministries prospered.
It does not share that Paul was right and Barnabas was wrong or vice versa, but that it was okay for them to disagree. They disagreed and still made impacts for the kingdom of God.
Differences among denominations are okay–and even a good thing–insofar as each of them adhere to the truth of scripture. Disagreement doesn’t make one denomination superior to another.
As believers, we can disagree with other believers and still recognize that they are believers who are serving Jesus too. The bible makes room for this and we should too.