How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Open discussion on general Baptist-related topics of interest to Baptists around the world.

Moderator: Dave Roberts

How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:47 am

I know a lot of clergy who are quite committed to their denomination. But over the last 20 years or more I've noticed that a fair percentage of people sitting in the pew, as much as a 1/3 or more depending on the church, have been members of churches in multiple denominations and didn't grow up in the denomination they are now attending.

So, how committed really is the average person to being Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or whatever?

I used to teach Baptist distinctives and now teach United Methodist doctrine and wonder how committed most lay people are to either?

Do you all get a sense that you are more committed to your denomination than the general people in the pew are? If so, how does that effect what people in the pew really believe versus what the official teachings of the denomination are? And, how much difference then does it make?

Just pondering today.
Tim Bonney

First UMC of Indianola, Iowa - http://indfumc.org
My Blog - http://timbonney.com
User avatar
Tim Bonney
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5965
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:17 am
Location: Indianola, Iowa

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Jon Estes » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:32 pm

Tim Bonney wrote:I know a lot of clergy who are quite committed to their denomination. But over the last 20 years or more I've noticed that a fair percentage of people sitting in the pew, as much as a 1/3 or more depending on the church, have been members of churches in multiple denominations and didn't grow up in the denomination they are now attending.

So, how committed really is the average person to being Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or whatever?

I used to teach Baptist distinctives and now teach United Methodist doctrine and wonder how committed most lay people are to either?

Do you all get a sense that you are more committed to your denomination than the general people in the pew are? If so, how does that effect what people in the pew really believe versus what the official teachings of the denomination are? And, how much difference then does it make?

Just pondering today.


In the Baptist world I have noticed a slide away from denominational awareness from people in the pew. The ones I notice who still know something are those close to the Pastor because he lives and breathes it.

The removal of things like GA’s and RA’s stopped the cooperative mission emphasis. The dying out of the WMU has not done our denominational connection any favours. Replacement ministries are not designed to promote denominational awareness. Our loss.

My observations
User avatar
Jon Estes
 
Posts: 711
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:14 am

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Sandy » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:55 pm

I think it probably depends on location and the culture of the general area. In rural Western Pennsylvania, the pull to denominational identity was strong among several groups, most notably Reformed and Evangelical Presbyterians, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the Mennonites. In the suburbs and cities, most of the denominational churches were Catholic. Here in Chicago, in the city in particular, the denominational churches are, for the most part, gone. There are still some large Catholic churches, though driving by on Sunday mornings, there are more empty parking spaces around most of them than cars. We pass a couple of Lutheran churches that look closed. Most of the church buildings in the neighborhoods that used to be owned by denominational congregations are now used and identified as non-denominational. Or they've been torn down to build apartment buildings and condos. Less than a fourth of the kids in our school come from a family that claims membership in a denominationally-affiliated church.

Jon Estes wrote: The removal of things like GA’s and RA’s stopped the cooperative mission emphasis. The dying out of the WMU has not done our denominational connection any favours. Replacement ministries are not designed to promote denominational awareness. Our loss.


I wouldn''t say that's the only thing but churches replacing missions groups with a Bible study program like AWANA in an attempt to boost the attendance didn't know those programs are two different things and that they were removing missions education from their curriculum. The WMU hasn't so much "died out" as it was de-emphasized by megachurches and megachurch pastors wives seeking to co-opt participation in WMU with "Women's Ministries" that are also not missions education oriented. It's the same thing as with the kids missions education, adult social circles and women's Bible study groups replaced missions education.
Sandy
Sandy
 
Posts: 8854
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 4:10 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:56 pm

Jon Estes wrote:In the Baptist world I have noticed a slide away from denominational awareness from people in the pew. The ones I notice who still know something are those close to the Pastor because he lives and breathes it.

The removal of things like GA’s and RA’s stopped the cooperative mission emphasis. The dying out of the WMU has not done our denominational connection any favours. Replacement ministries are not designed to promote denominational awareness. Our loss.

My observations


Do you remember Training Union? I seem to remember that some of those classes also had a denominational emphasis.

If I teach a class which keys on some specific denominational teaches I usually get a very small attendance.
Tim Bonney

First UMC of Indianola, Iowa - http://indfumc.org
My Blog - http://timbonney.com
User avatar
Tim Bonney
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5965
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:17 am
Location: Indianola, Iowa

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:59 pm

Sandy wrote:I wouldn''t say that's the only thing but churches replacing missions groups with a Bible study program like AWANA in an attempt to boost the attendance didn't know those programs are two different things and that they were removing missions education from their curriculum. The WMU hasn't so much "died out" as it was de-emphasized by megachurches and megachurch pastors wives seeking to co-opt participation in WMU with "Women's Ministries" that are also not missions education oriented. It's the same thing as with the kids missions education, adult social circles and women's Bible study groups replaced missions education.


I've had AWANA leadership try to recruit UMC churches into their program. But there are at least two issue with that. One is that, as you say, no specific training there to teach about the denomination or mission program of the denomination. Also, their theology is much more Independent Baptist than Methodist. I'm always careful not to use material where people will, even secondarily, pick up doctrine that contradicts my churches doctrine. Otherwise you have to unteach, which is much harder than teaching.
Tim Bonney

First UMC of Indianola, Iowa - http://indfumc.org
My Blog - http://timbonney.com
User avatar
Tim Bonney
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5965
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:17 am
Location: Indianola, Iowa

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:30 pm

In many ways, I think the de-emphasis on denomination is part of a post-denominational world. As I have worked with churches as their interim pastor, one of the focus points from the intentional interim training that I like to use is a focus on Connections, how the church connects with the wider world. What I am finding is that local ministries seem to be the key for the church. In my current intentional interim, the church seems much more involved with a local interdenominational ministry to human needs and a backpack project providing food to students from a local elementary school who have been identified as not being fed on the weekend by parents of guardians or not fed well.

Part of my awareness is the virtual demise of local associations as the seat of denominational awareness. There are few full-time directors of missions in VA outside of metropolitan areas, and the missions emphasis that the associations used to provide, along with the absence of denominational programs that provide missions education, has left major information gaps. When I was a full-time pastor, I tried to have two or three events each year that focused on a denominational connection like having a missions speaker, someone from the state team, or an emphasis that brought a wider awareness. In addition, most pastors used to be fed through a denominational network of colleges and seminaries. Now, I am aware of pastors in VA and NC Baptist life from at least half a dozen different seminaries rather than from a denominational network.

Also, the diminishing of church financial resources as churches have moved from my parents' generation into succeeding generations has meant that smaller gifts through the local church that meant less money to denominational causes. That also has resulted in more focus on direct mission efforts over denominational ones. Sending a team somewhere gets more resources from the local church than does a denominational emphasis.


The scene is changing. I am not certain where it is going totally for the future.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7280
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Sandy » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:01 pm

Tim Bonney wrote:
Jon Estes wrote:In the Baptist world I have noticed a slide away from denominational awareness from people in the pew. The ones I notice who still know something are those close to the Pastor because he lives and breathes it.

The removal of things like GA’s and RA’s stopped the cooperative mission emphasis. The dying out of the WMU has not done our denominational connection any favours. Replacement ministries are not designed to promote denominational awareness. Our loss.

My observations


Do you remember Training Union? I seem to remember that some of those classes also had a denominational emphasis.

If I teach a class which keys on some specific denominational teaches I usually get a very small attendance.


I do remember Training Union, or Church Training as it was changed. SBC congregations organized their education ministries into categories. Sunday School materials were published for the purpose of Bible Study, Training Union was for a variety of things, mainly doctrine, church history, apologetics, and polity and organization. RA's, GA's Acteens, Pioneers, and the WMU and Brotherhood groups were missions education. Training union was the hour before the Sunday night service and missions groups were on Wednesdays. Sunday night church has pretty much gone away, and with it, training union and everything that was taught. Wednesday nights have become youth group, AWANA, committee and outreach, and maybe an adult Bible study in addition to Sunday School. So missions education has been pushed out as well. And the loss of those programs has had a cost.
Sandy
Sandy
 
Posts: 8854
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 4:10 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:40 pm

Sandy wrote:I do remember Training Union, or Church Training as it was changed. SBC congregations organized their education ministries into categories. Sunday School materials were published for the purpose of Bible Study, Training Union was for a variety of things, mainly doctrine, church history, apologetics, and polity and organization. RA's, GA's Acteens, Pioneers, and the WMU and Brotherhood groups were missions education. Training union was the hour before the Sunday night service and missions groups were on Wednesdays. Sunday night church has pretty much gone away, and with it, training union and everything that was taught. Wednesday nights have become youth group, AWANA, committee and outreach, and maybe an adult Bible study in addition to Sunday School. So missions education has been pushed out as well. And the loss of those programs has had a cost.


You pretty much described a good bit of my childhood. I was in Training Union and RAs and when I was in college I helped teach RAs. Our Sunday evening services were more relaxed than Sunday morning.
Tim Bonney

First UMC of Indianola, Iowa - http://indfumc.org
My Blog - http://timbonney.com
User avatar
Tim Bonney
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5965
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:17 am
Location: Indianola, Iowa

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby KeithE » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:14 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:In many ways, I think the de-emphasis on denomination is part of a post-denominational world. As I have worked with churches as their interim pastor, one of the focus points from the intentional interim training that I like to use is a focus on Connections, how the church connects with the wider world. What I am finding is that local ministries seem to be the key for the church. In my current intentional interim, the church seems much more involved with a local interdenominational ministry to human needs and a backpack project providing food to students from a local elementary school who have been identified as not being fed on the weekend by parents of guardians or not fed well.


Having just reviewed our missions budget for the year, local ministries that use volunteers from our church get most funding. Total of 23 ministries funded (19 of which are local to Huntsville).

We too have a “backpack food ministry” - 2 week long “spring and fall breaks” backpacks and a Christmastime 2 week backpack program all to every child in MLK Elementary school here is Huntsville. Good multigenerational activity packing and the delivering the food.

Dave Roberts wrote:Also, the diminishing of church financial resources as churches have moved from my parents' generation into succeeding generations has meant that smaller gifts through the local church that meant less money to denominational causes. That also has resulted in more focus on direct mission efforts over denominational ones. Sending a team somewhere gets more resources from the local church than does a denominational emphasis.


Not surprisingly we have dropped SBC/Cooperative Program funding entirely (which was 9% of the 11% we gave the denominational entities (CBF, SBC), but kept the 91% of the 11% given the the CBF - that means currently 10% of total budget goes to CBF). Our giving has gone up (~8%, I can be more precise at the end of this year) although our attendance and membership have dropped (~ 10%).

Dave Roberts wrote:The scene is changing. I am not certain where it is going totally for the future.

Ditto.

Our church is not very committed to the CBF (I know of no one going to the CBF convention for last 10 years and only a few of us going to AL CBF activities of any sort). Bruce Gourley and Tony Cartledge are the only CBFers that have come to Weatherly Heights that I can remember.

We are a largely a standalone alone church.
Informed by Data.
Driven by the SPIRIT and JESUS’s Example.
Promoting the Kingdom of GOD on Earth.
User avatar
KeithE
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8834
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Jon Estes » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:18 am

Tim Bonney wrote:
Jon Estes wrote:In the Baptist world I have noticed a slide away from denominational awareness from people in the pew. The ones I notice who still know something are those close to the Pastor because he lives and breathes it.

The removal of things like GA’s and RA’s stopped the cooperative mission emphasis. The dying out of the WMU has not done our denominational connection any favours. Replacement ministries are not designed to promote denominational awareness. Our loss.

My observations


Do you remember Training Union? I seem to remember that some of those classes also had a denominational emphasis.

If I teach a class which keys on some specific denominational teaches I usually get a very small attendance.

I do remember Training Union and missed it when it disappeared quickly. I understand programs change but the obvious de-emphasizing of the denomination and missions has us now with a generation of young adults who know little and I do not see interest at large to learn denominational polity and workings.

Our great loss.
Living in Dubai for that which I was purposed
User avatar
Jon Estes
 
Posts: 711
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:14 am

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:20 am

Discipleship Training vanished along with Sunday night church. I remember the 1970's when churches were moving away from Sunday night activities because of the culture shift and because of the lack of attendance. I remember that the first church I served out of seminary wanted me to revive Sunday night worship, which they had stopped two years earlier when the previous pastor left. We struggled with this for over two years and never got the people back because they had built other patterns. The casualty in this was the loss of Discipleship Training.

My greatest problem with WMU groups was that many of them read something out of a magazine to their group about the denominational missions program but never looked for a way to do more than promote two annual missions offerings. In the church where I am currently serving in interim, one ladies group this past year became aware of a need in Slovakia for pencil cases for Roma children. They immediately got to work, made about 30 of them and had them in Slovakia within six weeks of hearing of the need. The labels were not nearly as important as the opportunity to respond to a felt need.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7280
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:21 am

KeithE wrote:Our church is not very committed to the CBF (I know of no one going to the CBF convention for last 10 years and only a few of us going to AL CBF activities of any sort). Bruce Gourley and Tony Cartledge are the only CBFers that have come to Weatherly Heights that I can remember.

We are a largely a standalone alone church.


I wonder how much of the CBF being so spread out effects people attending the national gatherings? I went to the ABC Biennial regularly and sometimes my wife attended. But, that was in part because I had church funding to attend. Any lay people who went had to pay their own way. So much of the time, even in a medium sized ABC church with good mission giving, I was the only delegate from the church attending the national meeting.

The UMC isn't set up for anyone but delegates and motivated visitors to attend national meetings. Most United Methodists, pastors include, never attended our General Conference other than on the rare occasion when it it close by. Only the elected delegates (elected in Annual Conference) regularly attend. I think that may be true for many of the non-congregationalist denominations including the Presbyterians and the Episcopal Church, I don't know about the ELCA setup.
Tim Bonney

First UMC of Indianola, Iowa - http://indfumc.org
My Blog - http://timbonney.com
User avatar
Tim Bonney
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5965
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:17 am
Location: Indianola, Iowa

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:31 am

In the same vein, my church just lost a couple who are moving to another church simply because our denomination is talking about issues of human sexuality. It isn't that they expressed any opinion one way or another or seemed to care about the issue. It is that they simply do not want to hear about any denominational issues in church or from the pulpit. They only want to hear sermons that meet their own spiritual needs. In fact they don't want to really to hear much about denomination at all. Given that we are a connectional Church, the likelihood of that is close to zero.

They have no patience for the fact that the UMC is going through an important time in our history and we have a duty to keep the congregation informed. They just want what they want.

I found that very frustrating, as most people in the church would be pretty annoyed if I didn't tell them what was going on in the wider denomination. Doing so is part of my job.
Tim Bonney

First UMC of Indianola, Iowa - http://indfumc.org
My Blog - http://timbonney.com
User avatar
Tim Bonney
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5965
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:17 am
Location: Indianola, Iowa

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:05 am

In the church where I am serving as interim, a CBF congregation, I have found that the last pastor hardly mentioned anything about the wider church beyond its local manifestation. This intrigues me since he was moderator for a year of the local association, was active in the BGAV, and regularly attended CBF state gatherings. It seems, he did not want to disturb anyone with details about denominational life. (The church gave generously to all in their budget.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7280
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Sandy » Mon Oct 15, 2018 10:25 am

With many of those in the mega church movement and in the media business as well, including television programs, being "non-denominational" because they need money from the widest possible audience, they also become advocates for a non-denominational approach to church ministry. Denominational affiliation means less money for buildings and monstrously expensive worship "performances." It also means less for the pastor and it generally carries with it a higher level of accountability. International missions and domestic missions support costs money too.

Of course, denominations have baggage that can drag local churches down with it. From the time I was in college, I observed the rush of SBC pastors who sought after denominational recognition, prestige and prominence by trying to get their rears into the seats of "powerful" committees and boards, and by hitching their wagons to the "kingmakers." And of course, controversy drives people away.
Sandy
Sandy
 
Posts: 8854
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 4:10 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:06 pm

Sandy wrote:
Of course, denominations have baggage that can drag local churches down with it. From the time I was in college, I observed the rush of SBC pastors who sought after denominational recognition, prestige and prominence by trying to get their rears into the seats of "powerful" committees and boards, and by hitching their wagons to the "kingmakers." And of course, controversy drives people away.


The megachurch movement doesn't hugely effect Iowa. We don't have all that many in this smaller population state. But there certainly has been an explosion of non-denominational churches or, what I think of as, pretend non-denoms that are really denominationally related but are playing hide and seek with their actual affiliation.

And, you are totally right that controversy drives people away no matter what is decided.

In the case of human sexuality UMC, if you choose to take the progressive position you make your liberal and also generally younger members happy. But your older members, who pretty much pay the bills, start to bale on you. If you take the conservative position you make the big dollar older members happy but your young adults and other liberal congregations will flee to the UCC, ELCA, etc where LGBTQ folks are already welcomed and recognized effectively killing the future of your church.

In my case February's General Conference will in part tell who I will lose. And, for the most part, I don't have any control over the outcome unless the Conference choses to pick some kind of local option plan, not ending the controversy, but giving people some choice.

All in all, it isn't an easy time to be pastoring.
Tim Bonney

First UMC of Indianola, Iowa - http://indfumc.org
My Blog - http://timbonney.com
User avatar
Tim Bonney
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5965
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:17 am
Location: Indianola, Iowa

Re: How Committed to Denominations are Lay People Anyway?

Postby linda » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:06 pm

I'm one of those no longer denominationally committed folks. I was SBC during the free grace non-fundamentalist but very conservative days. Geographic moves had us in the UMC a while, and in the ELCA for a time. We left due to the spiraling liberalism, but have visited from time to time. Haven't seen any in rush of younger liberal folks, either, so hope the UMC is not assuming the "progressive" side will pack younger folks in. We have been happily in another Wesleyan denom. Unfortunately to us it is following the UMC footsteps plus throwing in a lot of emergent church stuff, so we have recently left. We've been visiting all over our new town. There are still conservative Wesleyan churches and they are not predominantly old people like our church and the UMC are here. And the Baptists that are fundamentalist and/or conservative are packing in the young adults also. We found a Baptist church we enjoy but probably will not join as it is considerably more reformed/LS than we are (close to an even split with that and the free grace dispensational group.) As newbies not interested in a church fuss, we are happily attending at this point but keeping our options open while we decide between them and some a tad livelier than we enjoy Wesleyans that "fall out" as it gets called here.

I guess my take on denominational loyalty is this: the denoms show no loyalty to the tithing units when the higher ups keep changing the theologies and teachings. So why should we show loyalty to them? If a generally Arminian leaning Baptist was taught for years the "truth" of that view by Rogers and Stanley and Bro X down at the local church, why would they be loyal now to the the MacArthurs and Pipers and Pastor Y at the same church now?

We have met a lot of folks that feel they did not leave their denom, it left them.

But on the upside, I do think this has more people considering more than one point of view now days.

But as I said, we found a church we like but since we don't know what it will be teaching/doing in a year how can we commit?
Linda
linda
 
Posts: 435
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 3:53 pm


Return to Baptist Faith & Practice Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests