A few weeks ago, The Lead at the Episcopal Cafe quoted an article by Ken Carter, who argues that churches need denominations. He contrasts denominations to sociologists who argue that we are entering a post-denominational phase.
Certainly the particular denominations that make up the mainline traditions are losing their distinctiveness. Episcopalians are no longer only prosperous WASPs who enjoy early cocktail hours. Lutherans chant. Congregationalists use the BCP for weddings. However, individuals raised in one denomination will go to any church that has a strong leader or a vibrant Sunday School.
But as Ken Carter implies, churches are more effective when they organize together. They can harness resources. They can protect hard working pastors from poisonous congregations and hard working congregations from narcissistic pastors. They assure some modest degree of reliability by establishing set norms amongst the professional clergy. They can assist congregations, who work as volunteers, by providing professional help when they need it.
So yes, churches need denominational structures. Continue reading