Why we are/are not a Non-Denominational Church…
Many people ask us if we are a non-denominational church… Well, in certain ways we can answer that question both yes… and no…
New Life is an independent, self-governing church, so technically we are autonomous and self-sufficient. However, we affiliate with a greater organization that just happens to be the largest evangelical denomination in America, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
It is common for religious “denominations” to have leadership organizations that govern their churches, dictate policies, own church property, and oversee their churches from a top-down perspective. Our affiliation with other churches in our denomination is not like that. We are just part of a collective of independent churches that choose to work together. Therefore, we are technically part of a denomination, but we are not denominational in the traditional sense.
Don’t take this the wrong way…
In the past few decades within the evangelical community there has been a movement towards Non-Denominationalism. As such, there exists a multitude of beliefs and doctrinal positions within these self-described, non-denominational churches. While there are many faithful, Bible-believing churches who use the non-denominational tag, there are also a wide variety of beliefs within many other churches that embrace the non-denominational description. You simply do not know what a church believes and teaches if they say they are a non-denominational church. It reminds me of Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates. You never never know what you’re going to get.
Being an independent church, we are as independent, and as non-denominational as we can be while still being part of a larger, cooperative fellowship of churches. We determine our own policies, we own our own facility, and we hire our own staff.
Our church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are not Southern Baptists because we like to eat fried chicken at pot luck dinners while listening southern gospel music as we wave Confederate flags. (In fact, most of the members of my church were born and raised north of the Mason-Dixon line, I really have not affinity for gospel singing quartets – I can appreciate their gifts and talents and the hard work they do to hone their craft – but I am just not a big fan of that style of music. I do like fried chicken though).
We affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as a Great Commission Baptist Church in order to work together with other, like-minded churches for the purpose of outreach and missions.
What do I mean by like-minded?
We embrace the SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message (2000) as our church’s statement of faith. It describes our basic beliefs in regards to what the Bible plainly teaches. Each church in the SBC affirms this statement of faith and supports the convention’s missionaries and church planters through the Cooperative Program.
When we work together with members of other SBC churches, we have a basic understanding of what they believe and what they are likely to teach. When we support SBC missionaries and church planters we can be confident that we are sending like-minded workers to the mission field.
For us, being a part of a “denomination” helps us to better cooperate with other churches as we attempt to reach out to the world together.
New Life has adopted the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) as a witness to the world, and as an instrument of doctrinal accountability. We are not embarrassed to state before the world that this is what we believe, and these doctrines are essential to our faith and practice.