Being family rather than enemies.

There are between 33-41,000 denominations within Christianity. Many of them are not very significant, but in any case, there are a huge amount of sects within a faith that is supposed to be unified in Jesus Christ.I was talking to someone from church this week who asked about denominations. We were discussing the Bible, why and how we should read it and also what different people believe about the Bible. Coming from an Islamic background, she realised just how much ‘denominations’ can divide and cause trouble, especially witnessing the consequences of Sunni and Shia Muslims disagreeing on issues within Islam.

And then she asked, “Can I be a Christian and not have a denomination” to which I said “YES!”.

But this question lingered with me. Driving home from church, the question she asked struck me in a way that talks about unity hadn’t in the past. When Jesus prayed for us to be one in John 17, he really, really meant it. So why do we so often fail to live up to that prayer? Are we waiting for God to do all the work?

The Church will always be one, despite there being so many denominations, but families are allowed to disagree; it’s the nature of families! But our disagreements around church governance or worship style, how we dress and how we do evangelism shouldn’t cut us off from eachother.

In my local community, Newport in South Wales, the city really needs the church to be united in order to bring about the Kingdom of God in the lives of people who desperately need Jesus in their lives. If we don’t practice what we preach, then how on earth are we going to bring about God’s kingdom in an effective way? I think church unity is a massive foundation stone in this process.

Yeah, we can disagree about worship style, women in leadership, spiritual gifts and other things, but when churches are united on the Good News, the fact that we all need that relationship with Jesus Christ in our lives and that we must fulfil the Great Commission, then surely the Church will see massive revival?!

The Iranian Alpha Course that runs in church on a Thursday evening throws up all sorts of questions. One of the issues that all the men and women are concerned about is community. They want to see that Christians can live in community with eachother despite personality clash and difference in opinion.

After lengthy discussions, I found myself saying that wherever they may be, they must find a church that

1. Keeps Jesus at top priority

2. Has the Bible as it’s authority

3. Keeps authentic and genuine community, that looks after people and seeks to be a unifying force for the sake of the Good News being spread in the church’s locality.

I soon realised that these three pointers apply to all of us. Wherever we are in the world, is our church focussed on these things? And seeing as we are the church, how are we going to make sure that our church maintains the high calling of Jesus in John 17?

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Lou

    I had no idea there are that many denominations in Christianity! Really helpful to keep focused on being unified, and I like your three pointers. My pastor was recently speaking on unity and highlighted Genesis 11:6:  ‘The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.’ If we are united we will be able to do ‘impossible’ things through the power of collaboration. Krish Kandiah has also written about the importance of unity here: http://www.bible-reflections.net/articles/cultivating-christian-unity/2842/

    • Lou – thanks for replying. Really encouraging to hear from you. And a very good insight too!! 🙂