According to a report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the concept of “denominations” is dying in America.  The Pew survey suggests Americans don’t consider the denomination of the church they attend.  And 16 percent of Americans aren’t part of any defined denomination.

Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College explained it as “What we’ve been witnessing is a shift from a fixed identity to a fluid identity.”*

How did we get here?  In the 90s, we thought people would come back to church if we abandoned the denomination labels.  Instead, the word “community” entered the landscape, along with non-descript names from idea marketers:  Discovery, Water’s Edge, or LifeSource .  Even if those churches were denominationally affiliated, we hid the denomination.  I’d say we did it to ourselves.

So what can we learn from this? What do we do? 

You could remove the denominational label from your name, but a better strategy is simply to be the kind of church non-denominational congregants are looking for:  three quarters are evangelical, and serious about their faith.  Many of the rest are in the emergent tradition, more concerned about Biblical authenticity than denominational label.

In short, return to the basics of faith.and preach more about what the Bible says and how it matters to daily life than what’s going on in whatever denomination or affiliate organization.  (If you need help, see chapter 4 of Hope for Struggling Churches.)

 

*http://mondaymorninginsight.com/index.php/site/comments/the_future_of_denominations_in_america/

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