First, stop. Just for the moment, chuck everything you know about denominations. Let's start with a clean slate.
Second, let's be real about the state of our denominations and call a spade, a spade.
When it comes to our so called connectionalism, about the only thing that binds us is the property clause and the name brand of our denominations. Whether we are presbyterian, methodist, lutheran, baptist, when it really boils down to it, unless we've got the balls to discipline, censure, and defrock one another, about the only things that are binding is the property and the denominational name.
Already within the so called connectional denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), there are people so far from where I am on certain issues that I have far more in common with my baptist brother and the pentecostal non-denominational sister in town than I have with the More Light congregations who have been advocating for the ordination of homosexual, transgendered individuals.
Just what in the world are we talking about when we say connectional? What does that mean?
I think the way out of this denominational dilemma in a post-denominational age is to re-think what it means to be a connectional church.
Although I may agree about homosexuality with my baptist and non-denominational pentecostal brothers and sisters, I am neither a congregationalist or a non-denominationalist. I am to the core presbyterian.
What do I mean by that? Let me give you some examples:
- I believe wholeheartedly in the sharing of ministry between the teaching elders and the ruling elders.
- I believe in women's ordination.
- I believe that the church is best governed and led by a group of spiritual leaders rather than a bishop or a pope.
- No single church in its isolation is the full manifestation of the body of Christ, but that collectively, we represent the body of Christ.
- Commitment to Evangelism and Mission
- Commitment to Social Justice
- Commitment to mutual participation in the governance of the church
- Commitment to use both our hearts and our minds in approach to understanding God and our purpose as a church and as human beings.
The reality and the dilemma is that I would not be a very good baptist, congregationalist, a methodist, or anything else. My expression of my faith is best articulated through the Presbyterian way of doing and being church.
And I bet this is the same for those brothers and sisters on the more progressive and liberal side of the church too.
The question then becomes, how can we conceive of being a church where these two polarities can not only co-exist but thrive together? Is that even possible?
I happen to believe it is. It will take a huge shift in how we normally think of denominations, but I believe it is possible. Not only do I believe this is possible, but unless we discern some new ways of being a denomination in a post-denominational world, you can kiss PC(USA) goodbye. But I believe there is huge potential to rethinking and discerning what God may be up to in this post-modern, post-Christian, post-denominational age.
More to come on this later.
Thank you for your comments. Let's keep dreaming and discerning about how best we can be a post-denominational denomination.
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