Friday, July 24, 2009

Are denominations a thing of the past?

There are some today who say we are in a post-denominational age. This is partly because contemporary church goers will easily and frequently cross denominational lines and, also because churches are shopping for services rather than automatically opting for denominational resources.

To me, this is more an era of open competition rather than a post denomination age. Competition does, however, result in some institutions closing. In an age when denominations must compete with parachurch ministries, megachurches and businesses that provide services to churches, denominations must implement the best business practices and treat churches like customers or fade away.

First, they must respond quickly to queries from churches. A church may have called several providers for a particular need.

Second, they must provide services and materials that meet the needs of the church. Too much time has been spent in the past developing programs at the denominational headquarters and then trying to sell them to the churches.

Third, they must cultivate relationships with churches in order to understand the changing needs of real-world ministry. This is probably the most important practice that can lead to a true partnership in ministry.

Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when a denominational worker could act like a stereotypical bureaucrat, put in minimal effort and expect to be employed. The bar has been raised.

The good news for denominations is that they have some advantages. They already have relationships with congregations and often get first dibs on filling a need. The bad news is that other providers are quickly closing the gap.

It’s not too late. I am happy to say that I have received good service from denominational workers and appreciate the opportunity to partner.

1 comment:

Derek said...

One of the things I like about the EFCA is that districts and the denomination exist to accomplish things that individual churches cannot do alone, so they are more focused on being able to pool resources than to say "thus saith the denomination". I think this philosophy works better than the willow creek association type of organizations, because the WCA exists because willow creek says so, whereas the EFCA exists because churches continue to support it.