Do any of you Unchurchers still connect in “your heart” to your former or another “denomination” even though, by definition, as Unchurchers, we don’t actually ascribe to the whole concept of denominations?
My story is this: I have never connected with any denomination whose church I attended. Mainly this has to do, I am guessing, with a few of my less popular theological beliefs and because my area is densly populated with certain denominations and devoid of the presence of others. Thus, I’ve always felt totally out of place at every church I attended, not only because of the structure but also because of the theology (which is of course an even bigger issue than the structure!). I recently discovered the Wesleyan church, though, and am sort of amazed that there is, indeed, a denomination that aligns with what I believe the Bible says. For the first time ever in my Christian walk, I am feeling a “me too!” feeling.
That being said, I still disagree wholeheartedly with the concept of IC. I have no desire to find a Wesleyan IC near me. I have a misguided but knowingly incorrect desire to call myself a Wesleyan: the whole, “Paul’s baptism/Peter’s baptism” thing makes me wonder why anyone ever thought naming denominations after men was okay.
So, I’m having this tension between my joy over my “me too” feeling, and my belief and firm spiritual conviction that neither the Bible nor the current work of the Holy Spirit validate the practices of the institutional church or even the existence of denominations.
So, this is a really personal/heart-level struggle I need some equally personal advice on. How do you personally and spiritually relate to your old denomination (assuming you had found one you agree with theologically) now that you’ve opened your eyes to biblical ecclesiology? Is this merely another attempt to define myself and belong (something I have always wanted but failed to do: denominations, churches, personality tests, clubs and teams, etc.) which might be something I need to learn to just let go? Do I just want a shorthand for my belief system (“I don’t believe in the institutional church or denominations, but my beliefs are closest to Wesleyan.”) rather than having to explain?
Blargh, maybe I’m just thinking “out loud” and I know nobody else can truly answer this quesrion for me But I would love to hear about other people’s personal situations as I attempt to figure out my own!