Too important to ignore
September 14, 2009
by Pastor Steve Thorson, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Cokato

If you are a Christian, chances are that some denomination or another counts you as a member.

Many of us don’t think much about denominations. Most times, we have other reasons for joining a church.

Often it’s because friends, or family, or friendly neighbors go to that church. Sometimes it’s because we have looked around and found a church where we feel they are blessed. Sometimes it’s because the Lord Jesus found us there with his love. Sometimes it’s because we grew up in a certain church.

It’s good to think, from time to time, about our church denominations.

It used to be that denominations were the main way that local churches would do things beyond their local area. They would band together to send missionaries and train pastors, produce educational material, feed the poor, etc.; and that still happens.

But Christians, today, cooperate with people of other denominations much more than they used to. Informal networks and friendships in our area often seem more important than these often historic denominations.

Lots of our most active Christians don’t know much about the “denomination” they are supposedly a part of. Knowing about the denomination seems to be an optional add-on to the average Christian life.

There is one thing, however, that every active Christian in a local church should know about the “denomination” they are part of – the denomination is the place where church leaders are trained, authorized, supported, and held accountable. More than anything else, that’s why the denomination matters.

Church leaders, including pastors of local churches, are enormously influential in the faith-life of the people of the local church and community, and because pastors are influential, so is the organization they are a part of that is beyond the home church.

If you wonder whether learning about the denomination is worth your time or energy, think about how pastors, youth leaders, and other church leaders affect your life and faith. Then, think about the next generation and the pastors that are being trained in the future.

If our children are important, so is the denomination (or whatever professional association) “certifies” or “rosters” your pastor. Changes in church doctrine or leaders that are voted on in large organizations beyond the local church will eventually bring changes in the preaching and worship at church and in what is taught in Sunday school.

So, I encourage every active Christian to spend at least a little time getting to know their denomination. It’s not always easy, and not always fun, but, like raising kids, it’s too important to leave to chance – too important to ignore.