Historically the Church has been divided into many different factions, each believing that they are closest to obeying God and often believing that only they are "right". That is so much NOT what God has called us to!
Many different branches of the church, or denominations, formed in certain specific periods of time - often times of a revival of Godliness, and most embody some aspects of truth. I would ask you to consider a few ideas and then ask yourself whether the question of denominations is really that important anyway.
- Many believers would trace the birth of the Church to the day of Pentecost (a Jewish feast which took place shortly after Jesus Christ returned to Heaven). On that day the Holy Spirit came to give power to Christ’s followers, as Jesus Himself had promised. On that day Peter and the apostles preached to a large crowd in Jerusalem and 3000 people believed and joined the disciples.
- The Church grew incredibly quickly from that day on, but soon encountered serious opposition and many believers fled from Jerusalem and spread out all over the world. Wherever they arrived somewhere, they started a group of believers - a church. Each group retained the life of the Church, the relationship with Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, but, most likely, developed their own style of worship influenced by local culture.
- The bible calls all of Christ’s followers ‘The Church’ (with a capital C!) or the Body of Christ. From this we believe that The Church (all of it) is Christ’s representative, working on His behalf, in the world.
- The biblical apostles, particularly Paul, travelled from place to place to ensure that the message of Good News about Jesus Christ was fully understood, but did not apparently advocate any particular way of 'doing church'. It is clear from Paul’s letters that individual churches met in different ways according to their circumstances – some in the temple; some in houses; some in the open air and some in public buildings. Nowhere does the bible say that one is more correct than another.
- Today Christians also meet in different ways according to their circumstances and preferences, and their churches have significant differences of style and teaching. For example: some prefer traditional music, others prefer more modern music, while others may use no music at all. Some groups of Christians meet in traditional buildings (such as beautiful churches and cathedrals), others meet in hired schools and community halls and many even meet in homes; some prefer to follow an order of service written down over many years, others use a more open form of service, while some have no apparent form at all. They are not necessarily either right or wrong – they are different. What makes a church is not its style, but its relationship with Jesus Christ!
- Some of the denominations date back to times when the church in Britain was in turmoil. Many people became religious (see "About Religion" for a description of religion) without necessarily being committed to Christ and much of the power of true Christianity was lost. As churches rediscovered the joy of serving Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, so they tended to focus on particular truths. For example: When churches re-learned about baptism for adult believers, they tended to club together as “Baptists”; churches which began from the ministry of the Wesley brothers often group together as “Methodists”; those who rediscovered the spiritual gifts that appeared on the day of Pentecost are often called Pentecostals; Anglicans trace their history back to the time when the Church of England separated from the Church of Rome – and so on. Although some people get really serious about the differences, Jesus taught that we should obey two commandments – to love God and to love each other. He certainly didn’t tell us to love only those who interpret God’s Word in exactly the same way as we do!
- These divisions are neither right nor wrong. As long as the people are worshipping Almighty God, following the bible and freely serving Jesus Christ, there is no reason for division – they just have different preferences. For this reason CHURCH@Claremont works with any other part of the Church who hold to the Gospel – the Good News of Jesus Christ.
- CHURCH@Claremont does not belong to any denomination and is known as an independent church. However, it would be unwise for any church to exist in a vacuum, which can lead to over emphasis on specific elements and even to dangerous false teaching creeping in, so we align ourselves with a number of like-minded groups of churches and share teaching with them. Find out more about the style and associations of CHURCH@Claremont from other pages of this web site.
So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. (Romans 14:17-19 NLT)