Roundtable Discussion: Have You Ever Switched Denominations?

In the post I just wrote, I made reference to a Pew study that discusses the ways in which Christians seem to be switching denominations.  Non-denominational churches are gaining members faster than any other traditional denomination, while traditional denominations (Catholicism and the sundry Protestant subgroups) are pretty much treading water.

I’m curious: have you ever changed denominations?  If so, why?  And if you’ve stuck with the same denomination your entire life, do you have a reason for that?  Have any of you made the move from denominational to non-denominational or vice-versa?  Was it gratifying?

I’d love to hear some thoughts on this.  Feel free to comment below!

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6 responses to “Roundtable Discussion: Have You Ever Switched Denominations?

  1. I switched from a Bible Church to an open and affirming Methodist church. I felt God called me to look after the LGBT people and I couldn’t do that while remaining in a Bible Church. The switch has been an amazing journey so far, but also sometimes difficult.

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    • Wow, so it sounds like that was a ministry move for you then. I do imagine that changing denominations – depending on where you’re coming from and where you’re going – can be both rewarding and a struggle at times.

      It’s fascinating to me how different denominations attract different demographics of people – and you’re right, they need to be looked after!

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  2. I’ve switched denominations a number of times: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) > Southern Baptist > Non-Denominational (Seeker Sensitive) > Southern Baptist > Methodist
    As well as quite a few times from church to church in the same denomination, particularly as a Southern Baptist. Some of the switches were due to moving from one place to another and not having an easy time finding a church that fit all of our needs.
    Going to the Non-Denominational Church was as refreshing as an an ice-cold glass of water during a heatwave. The SBC Church was getting into complementarianism in a big way and we were feeling sidelined by all the changes and emphasis on gender over things like gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Non-Denominational church did contemporary christian music right off the radio, so it was great to sing the songs together that we could hear at any time of the week. Then we moved to a county that is nearly 80% SBC churches and we saw how some complementarian churches were even worse about it – going so far as to separate men from women into two groups during prayer time. The deacon felt that they weren’t going far enough, so we decided to get out of there before things went any further. Now the Methodist church we go to is egalitarian in name, but there are only a few signs of women being allowed to do more than a complementarian church, probably because this region is so traditionally complementarian that they don’t know they are allowed to do more than whatever is traditional. I know that Methodist churches are split on the LGBT question and some are threatening a schism, but until that happens we’re going to stay put as there are no other egalitarian churches to go to in this region (we suspect our church would would be traditional and by now we’re anything but). They do hymns, but I’d take that over complementarianism any day now. (Though I’d never thought I’d say those words.)

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    • Oh, wow. Separating men and women during services? I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination, but fortunately no church I attended ever went in that particular direction – I couldn’t have handled it either.

      You do make an interesting point about regional differences. When my husband and I first moved from our home church to a different state we were surprised to see how a denomination could vary so widely even within itself. “Southern Baptist” and “Methodist” churches do range a great deal even within their own doctrinal guidelines, and the personality of every church is different (I have attended SBC churches that were super-political, for example, and ones that were basically apolitical and tried to avoid all mention of such things from the pulpit). I imagine that’s in no small part what causes schisms eventually – when the denomination has churches pulling at each end, it’s difficult to get everybody going in the same direction.

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      • They didn’t make it obvious in the services, but in Sunday School there was every attempt to focus on it whenever possible. The few Sundays when they asked for volunteers to teach next week’s class, it was made clear that only men may be teachers / leaders. They would also say things like: “The Bible says that I’m the head of my family” or “God says that I’m in charge of my household” at least once each time they were teaching Sunday School. I felt as if two strikes were against me, one for not being married with kids, and one for being a woman who was ‘too interested’ in spiritual things.
        I think that Christianity has mastered segregation and separation, but we don’t know how to accept difference and remain together anyway. We wouldn’t know how to share the worship experience with a Lutheran, a Methodist, an Episcopalian, and a Pentecostal in our midst let alone with brothers and sisters in our churches whose beliefs no longer are clones of our own.

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      • We wouldn’t know how to share the worship experience with a Lutheran, a Methodist, an Episcopalian, and a Pentecostal in our midst let alone with brothers and sisters in our churches whose beliefs no longer are clones of our own.

        What you have to say above is dead on. I think we are all pretty entrenched, sometimes, as far as denominational differences go. And this is true internationally too – I think most Americans would be surprised if they had to worship in a Christian community in another country. We tend to self-separate, and it creates some walls that are difficult to get over. When my husband and I were searching for a church home a while back, we ended up “trying on” a few different churches in varying denominations and it was refreshing and wonderfully surprising.

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