What is a denomination? Do they matter? Aren’t we all just “Christians”? What about non-denominational? Do I even have to care about denominations?
Can’t I just go to any church regardless of their denomination? Christians have contemplated through these questions ever since the Great Schism in 1054. Whether a person was Catholic or Orthodox in those times mattered a great deal in how they believed and how they interacted with others. But do we still need those separations today?
Our world has gone through many different times when denominations mattered greatly and times when they didn’t matter at all. In our current era, culture and nation, denominations are downplayed and, depending on the church, it isn’t even a thought of Baptist vs Methodist or Lutheran vs Non-Denominational.
Think about it. What denomination is your church? Do you know what theology your pastor believes? Could you go to any other church, and would they teach the same principles? This isn’t a big thought for most twenty-first century American Christians.
I’ve talked to many people who just assume everyone else around them believed the exact same things as them. Whether you agree that Christian churches should have denominations or not, it is important to know and be aware of the varied Christian theologies.
The most prominent Prostestant denomination in the world is Pentecostalism. Their emphasis is on the Holy Spirit and seeing the gifts talked about in the New Testament in their everyday life. Like any denomination, Pentecostalism can differ based on church, but some denominations under them include Church of God, Assemblies of God and Foursquare.
Southern Baptist compose the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Southern Baptist churches focus on outreach, evangelism and baptism. As with most Prostestant churches they also follow the Nicene Creed which explains what they believe about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Another “denomination” that has become more popular in our culture is Non-denominational churches. It isn’t an actual denomination because these churches choose to just be a singular church not associated with any specific denomination. Beliefs can differ based on the pastor’s education or the community of people the church is made of.
Knowing what you believe and being aware of what others around you believe can be very important in growing your faith and sustaining your beliefs. While many beliefs in denominations don’t determine or contradict salvation, there are many that do. The importance of communion, the gifts of the Spirit and baptism are all different tenets, but these might not be necessary for salvation. It is important to be aware of church’s biblical beliefs. Not all Christian churches practice the same theology.
So does it matter? Yes and no. Yes, because Christians will always debate certain doctrines. Whether it is important or not is something that you need to decide and find out biblically for yourself. Differentiating churches based on their basic theology is a good idea. No, because we don’t want to be divided. God called us to be his followers and make disciples. If denominations and small disputes get in the way of that, then there is a problem.
We shouldn’t be against every Christian and church that might be a different denomination than our own, but it is important to know the things we believe, why we believe them, and how they are biblically correct so that we can grow in our faith and have the ability to share it with others.
“In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, in all things charity.” — St. Augustine.