Theology for the Long Haul

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Churches with No Doctrinal Statements...The Blind Leading the Blind?

Over the course of the past decade I have noticed the rise and decline of churches that resist identifying their doctrines, history, or affiliations. I understand the temptation. In a world so divided as ours, a church can benefit from not being labeled. In one sense, I see the benefit. All denominational names and most theological identifications bring baggage. Some things might seem better left unsaid. But are they? Let's consider this...

Sally Christian comes to your church. She doesn't know what the church's doctrinal beliefs are but attends for 6 months, during which time she  develops friendships and invites some of her other friends. One Sunday morning you give a sermon that reveals a belief that deeply concerns Sally. Now she is torn: Does she value the relationships she has made or her heartfelt conviction? Now she has to choose.

When a church doesn't identify its doctrine up front it can lead to two negative ends: 1) Confusion - no one really knows what is and what is not important to believe; and 2) attenders learn that relationships are more important than core beliefs. Unfortunately there are churches that propagate both of the above, but I think most churches without doctrinal statements simply don't think through all of the implications.

We must ask ourselves... what does our lack of clarification teach people? Is it worth it just to buck tradition and be seen as innovative? If your church is reacting you WILL attract reactive people. A sturdy house cannot be built on such a foundation. Let our houses of worship be houses of truth. As such, we can give direction to those who are disillusioned and burned. The blind cannot lead the blind.

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