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Characteristics Of A Non Denominational Church

By Nelda Powers
A non denominational church is a Christian congregation that has no ties to a larger organization. They may follow a popular pattern of worship and teaching, or they may be organized in any fashion the fellowship creates. The Bible gives only the most basic instructions for the fellowship of believers. The denominational differences are mainly man-made, according to their interpretation of scripture and traditions.

Denominations are national or international organizations that set the doctrine, or system of belief, for their member congregations. They issue by-laws, support training schools for ministers, approve the order of worship, and may own the physical property of their member congregations – buildings and land. They usually sponsor hymnals and even translations of Scripture, and may have periodicals and newsletters to keep members informed of events and decisions that affect them all.

The power that a governing body holds has been demonstrated in the news in recent years. For example, the Episcopal church in America decided to allow the ordination of women and homosexuals. This caused not a few conservative American congregations to switch their allegiance to the African Episcopalian bishop, raising legal questions of who owned the actual houses of worship. Did title rest with each individual congregation which might have built and maintained their physical plant or to the denominational entity?

As far as worship goes, many people choose to belong to a group that is part of a larger denomination. The most familiar groups to Americans include Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterians, and Pentecostal. Others are colloquially called Mormon, Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, and Christian Scientist. These churches have certain rules, special hymnals for their praise songs, and may even have their own translations of Holy Scripture.

Sometimes groups are sorted simply as either Catholic or protestant, referring to the original reformation started by Martin Luther. All Christian gatherings stem from ‘two or more’ believers gathering together, starting with the Jerusalem believers who met with Peter and the other Apostles after Jesus ascended into Heaven. Roman Catholic monks preserved and copied ancient scriptures and texts with devotion and accuracy for centuries.

Believers who want only the authority of the Bible will often seek out a non-denominational congregation. They expect the minister to teach Scriptural principles and the fellowship to give those precepts their obedience. People gather for ‘house churches’ in private homes or come together in huge auditoriums for praise, worship, prayer, and instruction.

These more independent churches have their own structure, often in the charismatic mode. They have enthusiastic worship, with praise singers and musicians and the words of the songs shown on screens in front of the congregation. They often advertise Bible-based, spirit-filled worship and teaching, and the ministers rely on divine inspiration as well as scriptural teaching for their messages at every service.

The body of Christ, which includes all redeemed believers, has no Biblical description. While many believers gather for the kind of service that sustains them, they should seek the unity of the Spirit that God looks for in His children. This can be found in both denominational and non denominational church groups.

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