I wrote this post back in 2010 on the benefits of being part of a denomination. It comes up top of google searches on that topic and is one of the most read posts on my blog. Having been at my denominations national leaders conference this week, I came back to reading this, 5 year on and reviewed my thoughts since then. I’ve been part of the association of vineyard churches for the past 27 years, more than half my life.
If the idea of being involved in a church as necessary for Christian identity and formation has been going the way of the dodo these past few decades in the UK, the relevance of denominations must be even more remote and unpromising. Yet I find myself 27 years later rediscovering the ‘joy’ of being in a denomination, and making a quick list of some of the immediate benefits that I am still enjoying re-discovering.
1. Shared beliefs & values: Having others who share the basics of what you think church is about, is excuse the pun, ‘invaluable’. Some of the most important values my church community has are the DNA of my denomination and movement.
2. Shared story and history: The vineyard movement is over 35 years old and interpretations of our history are much contested. But I'm finding the comfort of having my 27 years of memories to share with others who have been along similar roads. There is a comfort in reaching back over 27 years of church planting experience around shared stories.
3. Shared Mission and action: Doing something things with others within our denomination comes quickly and easily. There is a short hand from your shared values and story that enables action around these values, that is easy to take for granted.
4. Accountability: Having a group of peers who will and have asked what I believe, and why I’m doing it, is a life saver. I’m talking about mutuality in accountability here, the asking of hard questions out of live and support, not control. I know my heart is deceitful above all things, and needs the questioning of people who are for me.
5. Training and Resources: I’ve been the beneficiary of some amazing resources over the years that only a denomination can put together and deliver.
6. Celebration and History: And last night we celebrated the handing over of the leadership of our denomination in the UK and Ireland. Seeing succession in action, done with care, love, and well was exciting and history making for those of us in the Vineyard. A life event we all made happen by our commitment to what God has done with our movement and with the leaders we trust and follow. Celebrating those who serve and lead us is a privilege.
Any other benefits to being in a denomination that you have experienced?