Find Your Denomination in 4 Simple Steps
Church denominations are a problem
No, I’m not saying they shouldn’t exist, but they have become a serious problem for many, especially young people.
To outsiders, the vast array of denominations can be confusing and a serious roadblock for considering Christian faith. Even within the church, I’ve talked to so many young Christians who don’t know what denomination they should be a part of.
In this post, I hope to offer an extremely simple guide to help Christians determine which denominations they should be a part of.
Now I am not going to be summarizing the theology of all the major church denominations. There are large tomes of church history devoted to that sort of thing.
Rather, I’m going to help you understand your own convictions and clarify your beliefs. From there, you can determine which denominations are right for you.
Also, I want to clarify that I don’t think there is any one “true” denomination out there. You can choose to be in one denomination and celebrate how God uses others. While I am a Baptist, I thoroughly enjoy visiting and worshipping at my Grandparent’s Lutheran church. Additionally, I have learned so much from people belonging to other denominations like Anglicans. Personally, I have decided to be an active member of a Baptist church because my beliefs strongly align with theirs and I know that my faith will thrive there.
And that’s what I want for you. I want you to be an active part of a church where you can thrive in community, worship, and service.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: What’s the authority? And how does one become saved?
The first major breakdown of churches is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant. I believe the main differences between these churches ultimately come down to two things: authority and salvation.
I believe the highest authority for Christians on earth is God’s word recorded in scripture. I also believe that salvation comes by faith alone in Jesus Christ and the saving work of his life, death, and resurrection.
This solidly places me in the broad camp of Protestant.
Step 2: What do you believe about Church Sacraments/Ordinances?
Specifically, what do you believe about baptism and communion?
Is baptism meant for infants or believers?
Do you receive grace in communion or is it purely symbolic?
These are some of the most important practices within Christianity and for the sake of your worship, it’s important that you agree with your denominations’ views on them.
But it’s also helpful for deciding which denominations you are not going to pursue. For example, I hold to believer’s baptism so that cuts a large swath of denominations that baptize infants from my list.
Step 3: What do you believe about Church Government?
Do you believe the church should have a hierarchal structure with one Pope or Archbishop at the top?
Or should churches answer to a group of leaders?
Or should churches be self-governed with each congregation ruling itself?
I very much don’t like the idea of a single leader at the head of a church and I think self-governing churches are the best model. This narrows my focus on which denominations I could join quite a bit.
Step 4: Are there any theological positions you feel very strongly about?
Some people feel so strongly about certain doctrines that they will not be able to sit under the teaching of a pastor they disagree with.
A great example would be the “Calvinism/Arminian” debate. If you are strongly opposed to Calvinism there are some Presbyterian and Reformed denominations that you will want to avoid.
Do you strongly hold to the inerrancy of scripture?
Are you intensely committed to a specific interpretation of the end times?
If you are very passionate about any specific doctrines, keep them in mind as you consider which denomination you want to be a part of.
A Great Place To Start
If you’re struggling to find out which denomination you want to be a part of, don’t start by performing a deep analysis of all the denominations. Start by answering these few questions, and then see which denominations remain.
After answering these questions, I can see that my beliefs line up best with various Baptist and Bible denominations. There are also a many “non-denominational" churches where I would be very comfortable at.
Some people might find this limiting, but I find it very freeing. Now I have direction in my search for churches I would consider being a member of.
Once you have narrowed down which denominations you could be a part of you will need to find a specific church where you can grow, mature, and serve.
I have a short list of guidelines to help you find a great church which I’ll share in my next post.
What denominations would you be a part of?