Question and Answer

Why are there so many church denominations? Unsaved friends complain about the multiplicity of church denominations. Are some better than others?

You ask two questions. In some, perhaps most, cases, the answer to the first question lies in sinful human nature, expressing itself in contrary ways. On one side of an argument that will lead to a church split are carnal leaders who are careless about the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Opposing them are believers who refuse to accept sloppy doctrine. Sooner or later irreconcilable disagreements about the meaning of Scripture lead to a church split and church splits have in the past led to the formation of new denominations.

Some divisions become virtually unavoidable and may be said to be good. Conscientious, well-instructed members desire to contend for the apostolic faith, and some new denominations have developed in order to emphasize a doctrine or practice that was marginalized or ignored in the church from which they seceded. Baptist churches emerged from churches that baptized infants; Pentecostal churches from groups that did not pay enough attention to the Holy Spirit, etc. Of course, for the purposes of space, this is a very simplified description.

If your friend is a serious person, as he explores different churches or denominations he will not be offended by differences; instead, he will be amazed by the similarities, especially the almost universal adherence to the great, historic creeds. Sooner rather than later, your friend will find a company of brothers and sisters with whom he shares a common life in Christ, and a common creed.

BY C. Donald Cole, Moody Radio Pastor

Ever since I found a Moody radio station, going to church has been difficult for me. The pastor can’t preach like the radio preachers. He is alternately boring and irritating. Is it OK for me to stay home and listen to the radio?

No, it is not OK. Hearing preaching on the radio can be very beneficial and we can learn a great deal, but radio programs that are broadcast during church hours on Sunday are for the benefit of shut-ins and others who cannot go to church.

For the rest of us, church attendance is critically important. Acts 2:46 reports that the members of the first church in Jerusalem “continued to meet together.” Some time later, believers were exhorted, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).

We go to church for several reasons, one of which is to encourage each other. We need each other. We ought to go to church with the prayer that we might be used by God to encourage a disconsolate brother or sister. As for boring preachers, I suppose I myself am one on occasion. But I make myself boredom-proof when someone else is preaching by resolving to listen. You’d be surprised how interesting ordinary preachers can be if you really listen to what they have to say. 

BY C. Donald Cole, Moody Radio Pastor

I received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, and He has transformed my life. In light of these great realities in my experience, is being a part of a local church that important?

Yes, being a part of a local church is important. Of course, we are grateful to God for saving you and transforming your life. However, God has not called us to live the Christian life in isolation; He has called us to fellowship with other believers in the local church (Heb. 10:23–25).

In America we place such a great emphasis on our individuality that we may not appreciate the value that God places on local churches. Local churches were the first recipients of most of the letters of the New Testament. When we read these letters, our tendency is to apply their imperatives and exhortations to our individual experience when in fact the writers themselves gave these imperatives and exhortations to the community as a whole.

God intends for us to grow in the context of a local body of believers. He intends for us to in some measure reflect the mutual interpersonal relations of the Trinity in the context of local church life (John 17:20–23). Local churches are the primary context where we are to put the “one another” passages into practice (Gal. 5:13; Eph. 5:21; Phil. 2:3; 1 John 4:7–12). Living life in community with other followers of Christ is a part of our commitment to the Lord. I encourage you to become a part of a Christ-centered, Bible-believing and practicing local church. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.