Mark Driscoll on Denominations

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5 Responses

  1. Denominations began as networks due to the limitations of communication and travel, maybe if they learn to serve they can survive.

  2. I agree with these statements. And, here’s some COG history relative to the topic:

    It is interesting to note the founders of the COG never intended for it to become a denomination. It was first a network of congregations established by R.G. Spurling. The COG was started in 1886 as a movement to unite Christians in the mountains of eastern TN and western NC. Spurling then preached throughout the area and established numerous “Christian Union” congregations. They were linked together through him. Then in 1896 the holiness message was introduced to the movement at a revival near Camp Creek, NC. While some individuals received tongues-speech during this revival, the COG did not fully embrace the initial evidence teaching of Pentecostalism until about 1907-08. (In fact, it split the North Cleveland Church when it was adopted). But even at the first assembly in 1906, the minutes gave clear instructions that no one should use those minutes to form a sect or denomination. And, some of the Christian Union congregations refused to attend the first assembly because they felt it was leading back to creeds. As a result, they never became part of the COG fellowship of churches but remained independent.

    I think it is undeniable the COG was first a network of churches. And, I think every COG member should read Spurling’s “The Lost Link” to gain a perspective on what his thoughts were when establishing the Christian Union congregations. It sheds much light on the reason for our existence as a denomination– and how far removed we are from the initial vision.

    I think this has a lot to do with the idea of new wine in old wineskins. Sometimes denominations become overly structured that they cannot keep up with societal change, so the networks provide the needed fellowship, community, and accountability for congregations and ministers embracing inevitable change.

  3. Louis,

    Those are great thoughts.

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