At Good Shepherd, we welcome Christian brothers and sisters from across the denominational spectrum. But it is true that we are part of a particular denomination. Why is that? Don't denominations just cause division among believers? Is it better to just be "non-denominational"?

Well, everyone would agree that what a church believes affects how it worships and does many things, just like what you believe affects how you live. Therefore every church -- whether it is part of a formal denomination or not -- should clearly state what it believes not only about things like Jesus, the Bible, or sin, but also things like how the church is governed (should the final say-so in decisions belong to one person, a group of elders, or the whole congregation) and what it believes about other Biblical subjects (baptism, speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc).

For this reason, Christians inevitably disagree on some things. Disagreements are often misconstrued as disunity among Christians, but that isn’t always the case. Faithful churches should and do cross denominational lines for fellowship, encouragement, and ministry. But the value of denominational commitments is that churches in a denomination have real accountability to one another. Conversely, a church that is independent of all other churches is basically a denomination unto itself. It has no real accountability outside of itself, and this is contrary to the connectional nature of the early church demonstrated in Scripture passages such as Acts 15, Revelation 2-3, and so many of the New Testament letters to the churches.

Churches who believe the same things should be accountable to one another, rather than every church being totally autonomous. And that is how we should view denominations. They should provide the accountability necessary for the peace and purity of the church. Yet even with such commitments, local churches and whole denominations can and do lose their way. This has happened throughout history, and sadly, Scripture tells us that it will continue to happen. Therefore, churches need real commitments to one another, bound to each other in sound beliefs and faithful practices that reflect an agreed-upon interpretation of God’s Word in all things, from preaching to worship to governance to the working together for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.