When churches take their lead from where God is guiding them for their congregation and community, they tend to be more effective. The denominational program can support that vision, but should not be relied upon to give them their vision.
6. There is more variety among churches within a denomination than there used to be.
A generation ago, if you were familiar with a denomination, you could go to almost any church within that group and have a similar experience. No matter the size of the church, the region of the country, urban, suburban or rural, there were more similarities than differences among churches within the denomination.
Not any more.
Today you can go to different churches of the same denomination in the same town and have significantly different experiences. Not theologically, in most cases, but operationally. You’ll sing different songs, in different styles, with different programs for youth and kids, and more.
Common ground is more likely to be found among churches of the same size, or in similar types of towns, than across a denomination.
7. Denominations that are thriving are networking with their churches, not dictating to them.
If you take a look at any of the recent survey results about church growth and health denominationally, it’s almost universally the case that strong, top-down hierarchical denominations are struggling or declining, while those that offer support and networking with fewer hierarchical structures are more likely to be maintaining or growing.
A hierarchical denominational structure used to be perceived of as a sign of strength, confidence and solidity. Today, it’s considered restrictive, patriarchal and out of touch.
8. Denominations that are thriving are holding pastors and churches accountable for their moral choices, not sweeping them under the rug.
It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.
That was the lesson of Watergate, and of every other scandal before and after it.
Especially now, when information can be shared so readily, those who try to cover up the sins of their members instead of dealing with them will be exposed and suffer the consequences of it. As they should be.
No organization is without fault. The issue for most people of good will isn’t whether there are people within the group who violate moral principles, but how the organization (whether a church, business or denomination) deals with it.