Posted By: Tim Mannin
ENTRY SIX in our writing series, EIGHTEEN, which is all about some of in's and out's of this church.
It took us a while to make the decision. After extended prayer, research, and much needed counsel we landed the plane – we are a non-denominational church. I recall several years ago when I first started hearing about these churches who classified themselves as non-denominational. My first impression was that these were the rebels, the hippies who were intent to fight the power. My second reaction was that these were the loose cannons; these were the churches that you couldn’t pin their beliefs down or understand if they were more Baptist or Pentecostal; are they more democrat or republican?
Being non-denom is much more common these days and isn’t a big deal to many people, but it still can leave people wondering a bit about what kind of church we are. I want to frame this entry is in a way that helps you understand a little more about who we are. First, we aren’t hanging our hat on our non-denominational status. This isn’t some major identification label for us. In fact, this says very little about us. The term non-denominational isn’t a statement of who we are…although, for some churches it has become a statement of who they aren’t. Let me clear this up in the case of OKC Community Church. Our status as a non-denominational isn’t a statement either way.
Here’s our story. Early on we worked pretty hard at exploring our denominational options and were pretty convinced we would affiliate with a denomination. In fact, we were very close to officially becoming a church affiliated with a particular denomination. However, as the relationship grew it became apparent that it wasn't the direction that God was leading. We discovered that were attempting to make something work that felt more like checking a box than being authentic about what God was doing within our community.
So after much prayer, much wise counsel, and a few “duh” moments we decided that OKC Community would establish relationship, oversight, accountability, resources for our church plant, and a connection to the larger Kingdom work of the Church around the world in some different ways. So we came up with a different plan.
I want to be clear about a few things that have important in our process:
- We decided that this doesn’t mean we get to do whatever we want.
- We learned that being non-denominational actually makes us have to work a little harder on certain things.
- We decided that if we were going to become a non-denominational church – we were going to have do something about it.
So here’s what we’ve done. We've created a plan that takes all things of planing a new church into consideration and we are hopeful this will lead us to be healthy, well led, and connected to other churches beyond ourselves. We have four major areas of consideration.
- Leadership from Within the Body
Beyond our pastoral leadership of the church we have organized what we call an “Advisory Team” to serve this church plant in the initial incubation period of this church plant (next 2 years). This team will serve as a source of wisdom, accountability, and will give critical input to the decisions of our church.
- Church Partners
We want to have other churches that we can literally call our friends. Sadly most churches don’t work to hard to be friendly to one another. Churches often feel threatened by one another instead of encouraged. We are working to have several local churches that we can call our friends, and we are specifically hoping to have a couple churches that we would call “Church Partners.” Our Church Partners would be churches that have a vested interest in our church plant being established. They may serve on our Advisory Team or assist us in other ways. We would also do whatever we can to serve and be a blessing to their church.
- Church Networks & Ministry Friends
We don’t what to be an island church that is only focused on what we are doing. We want to be connected with other churches and ministries around the country and world that we can learn from, invest in, and have friendship. OKC Community will be a part of Church Networks that we have an affinity to through their mission or relationship. Our ministry friends could include local churches, missions organizations, or other types of ministries that we choose to partner with in order to advance the Kingdom beyond our local church.
- Long Term Plan
By the time the 2 year incubation period is over. Our church plant will begin to implement the long-term structure of leadership, oversight, accountability, and church governance. This will include everything from theological boundaries, to the several processes and systems that churches need to have in order to have a healthy process of decision-making, accountability, pastoral leadership, lay leadership, etc..
We believe that when we do these things well – we will be able to create a more well conceived and developed church than if we simply checked a box. We certainly don’t believe that denominational affiliation is a bad thing…it’s a great thing for many churches! However, we are so thankful for the path that God is leading our church down.
We are hopeful that God will use this sliver of our identity and journey to help us crystalize our message and practice of the gospel. We are also hopeful that being non-denominational will help us as we try to engage a wide range with people with various backgrounds and theological lenses.
Hopefully this helps you understand how we interpret, claim, and have wrestled with becoming non-denom.