<<subgroup within Christianity>>

Denominational labels enable the basic identification of groups of Christians, and any choosing a particular denomination is thus also choosing its beliefs and practices. These different church groupings within Christianity were often formed when a

Respect and appreciate the emphases of other denominations in the “Body of Christ”

leader saw a particular ‘new’ truth in the Bible and started a fresh, breakaway gathering with the emphasis on that aspect of teaching. However, no one denomination has a monopoly on divine truth or can claim to represent the whole church of God, of which they are only a part. (In contrast, groups which consider they alone have all the truth and maintain exclusive practices are termed sects).

Typically there are only very small variations in the beliefs and doctrine of different denominations, the result of the degree of emphasis. As Christians, we should love one another deeply, focusing on the many similarities that unite for “We are all one in Christ Jesus” rather than emphasising the few ‘non-essential’ points where we differ (Gal 3:28; 1 Jn 4:7,11,12).

Focus on the truths of ‘the gospel that unites’

If we see another individual or group straying from the non-negotiable truths of the faith (preaching another gospel) it is the responsibility of Godly leaders to confront them with humility and love and present the truth more fully (Act 18:24-26).

The worldwide body of Christ is comprised of "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord" with the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ unites believers, despite the denominational differences (Act 2:21). In heaven there will be believers from "every nation, tribe and tongue" worshipping our Lord in complete harmony together forever (Rev 5:9).

Various terms are used in relation to describe the church structure and affiliation:

Inter-denominational. These blend strengths and practices from several denominations. Often these are stand alone congregations, while free of tradition or the restraint of a governing body can move away from Bible truth unless there is accountability to a pastoral network who can also provide support in difficult times. Many para-church organisations (mission agencies and social work programs) draw on the wider body of Christ for finance and workers, with their ministry spread across the broader Christian church.

Non-denomination. Although similar to inter-denomination there is no formal alignment with, or part of any specific denomination.

Ecumenism is the joining together and the co-operating of various flavours of Christianity often for various events. While this is desirable there is the danger of trying to be all things to all people and not to offend anyone through being all-inclusive and broad-minded, Scriptural truths can be compromised. Unity and diversity (not division) are both important in the church. Regular intermixing or networking of the different Christian groups in an area is to be recommended provided no one tries to ‘convert’ the other congregations to their beliefs or steal another group’s followers. Satan’s intention is to get splits between believers as he knows there is enormous power in unity while this is seriously reduced when there is division (Ps 133:1,3; Lk 11:18).

See also: church, compromise, cults, doctrine, error, non-negotiable, sect, theology, tolerate, unity.