Introduction. There is a trend in the modern religious world that is worthy of our attention and consideration; the rise in prominence of so-called “non-denominational” churches. All across the country there are churches that are attracting huge numbers of people drawing scores of people away from the more established denominations into these “Mega-Churches” that present themselves as “non-denominational.” This should be of interest to anyone who seeks to follow the New Testament pattern of things, because when we look to the New Testament we find that...
- The New Testament church was “non-denominational.” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
- Religious division was condemned. (I Corinthians 1:10).
However, these modern so-called “non-denominational” churches have some concepts behind their approach to faith that do not rest in an effort to go back to the New Testament pattern, but betray a mindset that is simply a new type of departure from truth.
I. What is At The Heart of Modern “Non-Denominational” Churches?
- Avoidance of Conflict. Many are drawn to “non-denominational” churches because that have grown weary of one church saying and doing one thing and condemning others that do something different. Perhaps you have heard someone express the sentiment - “I don’t like bickering over religion.” There is some merit to this idea. Christians should not be...
- “...obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions” (I Timothy 6:4). We should...
- “...avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (II Timothy 2:23). But we must also...
- Contend for the faith. (Jude 3).
- Stop the mouths of idle talkers and deceivers (Titus 1:7-11).
Isn’t it ironic that in an age when our culture thrives of the senseless quarrels and bickering of “reality TV” - Jerry Springer-fights over ball games, or wearing gang colors -we are unwilling to contend for spiritual things that really matter? Shouldn’t we care about what the truth is? Shouldn’t we be willing to stand up for truth? Illustration. There is a Country song that puts it well, “You’ve gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” Sadly, I think we have to say that some of this move away from conflict does not come from a love of truth, or a desire for true unity of faith, but simply...
- Spiritual Laziness. God desires that we seek Him.
- We must test the spirits (I John 4:1).
- We must rightly divide God’s word (II Timothy 2:15).
This will take some work. This will take sacrifice, but why not give ourselves to something that is worthwhile? We give ourselves to plenty of other things! Why not be like the...
- Churches of Macedonia who “first gave themselves to the Lord.” (II Corinthians 8:5). It won’t be in vain if we choose to...
- “...be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58). Yet another thing that motivates these “non-denominational” churches is an effort towards...
- Man-made religion.
- Worship. Some of these “non-denominational” churches pride themselves on offering “Traditional” services at one time and “Contemporary” services at another time. Note: We sometimes feel a little of these tensions in our own assemblies-new songs vs. old standards. Some feel moved by the new, while others feel threatened. Some feel reassured by the old standards, while others feel it is “old fashioned.” We must be considerate, humble, respectful of each other in these kinds of expedients avoiding misjudgment of motives or prideful attitudes. What if these differences are not expedients but additions? What if they are things without authority? In these “non-denominational” churches “contemporary”Êmay just mean that one service uses an electric guitar while the “traditional” uses an organ. Where are either authorized in the New Testament? - (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19).
- Teaching. Some of these “non-denominational” churches focus in their teaching on what is sometimes called the “basics.” What that means is that they teach faith in Jesus (that’s great), Love for God (that’s great), avoiding sin (without getting too specific) and trying to live right (also good). Yet the way that they achieve unity is not by moving people to understand the truth of God’s word on all of the areas that the denominations differ but rather boiling things down to the lowest common denominators about which there is agreement. Is that really “non-denominational”? It is more accurately “PAN-denominational” (pan meaning “all”). They simply call all denominations together and say forget about the differences, we’ll just do and say what all of us agree upon. A good idea?
- We must not seek “smooth things” (Isaiah 30:8-13). Faith is not about our desires and our wishes, but about serving and worshipping God.
- God’s ways are not man’s ways. (Isaiah 55:8,9).
- The apostate shape their faith upon their own desires (II Timothy 4:3-5).
II. Is This Church “Non-Denominational”?
- Yes-We are opposed to denominationalism. Illustration. I heard Charles Stanley - a popular radio and television preacher recently address the issue of human denominations. In talking about a text discussing the “body of Christ” he said, “this is not talking about denominations-denominations come from different ideas that men have. The Bible knows nothing of religious denominations.” He was exactly right! If only he had stopped there. After saying, denominations are from men and not from God, he then added - “now, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them...” Really?
- “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it...” (Psalm 127:1). How can men claim to be members of denominations or even churches that call themselves “non-denominational” yet do all the things the denominations do-function as God never commanded or authorized and yet “it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it”?
- Religious division is wrong (I Corinthians 3:1-4). How does this unity come about? Through false unity? No! Through unity in diversity? No! This church is non-denominational because...
- Yes-We reject error and stand for the truth. Was the church which Jesus established this “hodge-podge” of different teachings and practices? No...
- Paul taught the same things everywhere (I Corinthians 4:17).
- Paul said there was “one body”Êand “one faith” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
- John taught that we must reject any other gospel (II John 9-11).
- Yes-We follow the New Testament Pattern. (I Timothy 3:14-15).
Conclusion. Please understand that our efforts this evening are not offered out of arrogance or a desire to exalt ourselves. We are not saying- look at us-we are it! Every member here would confess that there are many areas in our service to God that are “works in progress.” Our prayer is that all men would throw off the shackles of denominational error in truth and be nothing more and nothing less that New Testament Christians and congregations of the Lord’s church which are truly “non-denominational.” Note: The way to do this is not to ignore differences, or refuse to contend or investigate error but to overcome error by the Word of God. I have hope that perhaps this move away from the traditional denominations will lead some to come to the truth and reject such error. Our effort this evening is to show the distinction between these “non (or PAN)-denominational” churches and the church for which Jesus died. We can all be a part of that and nothing else. Which will you choose?