I recently heard from a classmate of mine that her and her boyfriend were having some discussion about which denomination of church to attend. She, who will remain nameless, grew up in a traditional Methodist church, while her significant other grew up in a more informal Baptist church. How should these two go about resolving their differences?
First of all, I want to preface this article with this: I’m not going to make the claim that any specific denomination should be preferred over another. I also want to clarify that I am speaking about Christian denominations; the purpose of this article is not to say that any denomination is better or more accurate. Of course I have preferences and reasons for them, but today I simply want to present some talking points to discuss when trying to resolve your denominational differences.
Thankfully, if you’re having this debate with your family, spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend, then you’re already off to the right start. You are at least heading in the right direction because you are answering the call to take part in fellowship and discipleship with other believers. Of course, you don’t have to become a member of a church to have fellowship or discipleship, but if you do go to a church you have infinitely better odds of having them both. I’m not saying it’s impossible to have them without a church, but statistically it is much less likely. So, if you’re wanting to get out there and meet some Christians, then going to a Christian church is a sure way to do that. I also think it’s important to be a part of a church because Christians are more than the sum of their parts. An isolated Christian will be less effective for the kingdom of God than a group of Christians who can work together. For instance, a single man might be effective at street witnessing—would result in some saved souls. However, a group of Christians can evangelize multiple countries and plant churches that then go out and evangelize other countries. When Christians work together they can do more than they ever could on their own. I know this is true because every believer contributes something different to the body of Christ. Some Christians are good with finances, some are charismatic and interpersonal, some are great with logistics, and others are very good at evangelism. Therefore, when you combine different Christians in a group and account for their varied contributions, the result is effective worldwide evangelism. In other words, we are more than the sum of our parts; in this case especially, perhaps five plus five equals one thousand. It’s a no-brainer: we need the logistical Christians just as much as we need the evangelicals. Each person has certain talents and skills that contribute to fulfilling our eternal purpose. Therefore, it is important that every Christian finds a community of believers to have fellowship with. A community that will help you go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel.
Criteria for Choosing a ChurchThis brings me to the actual question before us: How can two people from different denominations decide on a church to attend? In order to resolve these differences in backgrounds, the two people must consider what it is they are looking for in a church. It’s not so much about the denomination of the church as it is about whether the specific church meets the criteria that we should hold all churches accountable to. You must ask this question: Is the church making an honest effort to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I don’t know a lot about the different denominations, but I can say for sure that you do not need to go to a church that doesn’t believe Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven.
The most important thing is that the church believes that you are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and that our salvation is not a result of works (otherwise we would have reason to boast). If the church holds these beliefs about salvation, then at least you are in a church where the Gospel can be preached to souls and where Jesus will save lives for eternity. You must ask your significant other if they also want to go to church that holds these beliefs about salvation. If there is a disagreement at this stage, then the rest of this article will be meaningless to you (and the rest of your life too), because it will address secondary matters. This is the fulcrum of our faith.
This fulcrum rests on the foundation that the Bible is the Word of God. If the church doesn’t believe the Bible is the Word of God, then there is no reason for the church to be confident in the conclusions they draw about whether salvation is by works or by grace through faith. The fact that the Bible is the Word of God is vitally important, and it goes hand-in-hand with the views the church should hold on salvation.
If you and your spouse decide that both churches under consideration believe salvation is by grace and through faith in Jesus, and that the Bible is the Word of God, then the decision comes down to which church is trying to proclaim the Gospel to the masses. Attend for a few weeks and see if they are trying to evangelize. Choose the church that has momentum in this area, because that fire will catch in your heart also when you become a part of this kind of church.
If both churches are trying to spread the Gospel, then your decision comes down to personal preferences. However, I believe that using this simple criterion will help you narrow your choices. If you still cannot decide on a church, then I would encourage you to pray about it. It’s a very important decision, so ask God to give you an answer.
PrayerI know it seems weird to pray. But I have found it to be supernaturally helpful. For instance, I was recently considering helping out with a local sports team. I had been invited to help by the coach, and when considering it with purely my logic I thought that it would be the right decision to help. However, each time I prayed about it I felt extremely confident that I should not help. It was the weirdest thing (and I guess prayer is sort of weird), but I was given such an obvious answer to my question. It’s important to note, though, that I often do not receive such in-your-face answers to my prayers; but, it always at the very least takes away my anxiety. This alone is enough reason to pray. After all, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he tells us, “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 
Still no answer after prayer?
This is possible (believe me, I’ve been there many times before), and it is likely a reality for you in this situation. For example, let’s say both churches under your consideration believe and preach the true Gospel, but the discrepancy is that one church is too traditional for the Baptist spouse and one church is too laidback for the Methodist spouse. Then, I would say find a church that’s in between—maybe a Presbyterian church. Or, if there is no in-between church for you, then flip a darn coin!
The absolute worst thing you can do is avoid church altogether because you can’t decide between secondary issues (such as traditional vs. modern music, or whether you can drink a little wine during the Lord’s supper or grape juice instead). I may be offending some die-hard people in their denominational camps, but that’s not really very important to me. You are a follower of Jesus Christ—not a Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian. The reality is that it’s not very important whether or not the church uses drums or violins during their worship music. The more important thing is whether or not the church is making the name of Jesus known to the masses.
And this is where my article gets real, so please don’t miss this: One of the Devil’s biggest goals is division. You see, the Devil desperately wants to divide the body of Christ because he knows we are weaker when we are divided. He wants us to focus on things like “traditional vs. laidback”, or “wine vs. no wine,” so much so that he hinders our ability to work together. He keeps us from getting planted in a church that will help us grow as Christians, and one that will help hold us accountable to share the Gospel with others.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to be passionate about your denomination; I think there are many great things about a lot of denominations (and I think some denominations are closer to getting it right than others). However, what I am saying is that your “denomination” is not God. God is God and He has a very important mission for us to do, and He tells us this in His Word. And when we decide on a church to attend, it should be because the church is passionate about pursuing that mission: which is to go ye therefore and make disciples.
I hope this helps to all of you seeking a church to attend, but can’t decide which denomination to go with. If you live in Jacksonville, Alabama I would encourage you to attend First Baptist Church of Jacksonville (both the 7th Street and Eagle Point Campuses). The pastors of both are passionate about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I’m sure that other churches in the local area share these beliefs, so all I’m saying is make sure the church does you are attending, it is vitally important to outreach and personal growth. If the church is focused on God, then you will grow there. In that kind of church fellowship and discipleship will be valued, and the influence of the Holy Spirit will permeate the microculture.
Please comment/mention any churches you feel are Gospel-centered that are located in our area below in the comments section. Also, if you have any preferences in a denomination, please let me know in the comments section below why you think one denomination should be preferred. Thank you!
Cite: Faucett, D. (2017). Resolving Our Denomination Differences. Faucett Journal. Retrieved from http://www.faucettjournal.com/articles/resolving-denomination-differences