The PCA is a “Christian denomination” – a group of Christians with a common confession of faith who are identified by the same name. As such it is one of a multitude of such denominations. But what is the future of denominations? Are they on the way out? And if so, is that good or bad? We invite you to mull over these questions as you read these post and contribute your thoughts.
In Praise of Denominations by Jason Helopoulos
“We are moving into a post-denominational age” or so we are told. If that is the case, I for one don’t think it is good news. Denominations serve a real purpose and are worthy of our promotion, propagation, and commitment. I know that many of us have been “burned” by denominations and there is much fruit being born by different networks, fellowships, and independent churches. However, we shouldn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Networks, fellowships, and independent churches can’t provide the same benefits as a denomination. They may be able to provide some of the things below, but not all of them.
Accountability: Every church and every pastor of a local church needs accountability. If we believe that sin is a true reality, then we will strive to check it. And that often requires a voice outside of our own local church. Denominations provide structure with their policies, appeals process, confessions, and authority.
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When Conservative Denominations Decline by Anthony Bradley
If your denomination is 25-years-old or older, it is has likely peaked and plateaued in terms of numbers and influence—unless you are from a Pentecostal or Charismatic tradition. The pace of social change is faster in our era than ever before and denominations cannot keep up. As denominations grow they become slow, more bureaucratic, less creative, and less innovative. Denominations increasingly become centered on preserving their institutions while ignoring needed reforms to address social change. As such, the generation that initially grew the denomination becomes the primary target audience. As that population ages and become culturally leveraged, so follows the denomination they helped to grow.
Recent movements built on baby-boomers are plateauing and will experience future decline. Younger leaders with creative and innovative ideas in these denominations tend to be viewed as threats against the forms and methods of the past. This desire to conserve past forms and methods is often confused as orthodoxy. Are denominations, then, partly responsible for the decline in confessional Christianity in America?
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