Some Christians claim a non-denominational church is better. However, as a scientist I like to see all angles of the story:

I was under the impression that since all Christians don't belong to one church, (They agree to disagree on Ephesians 4 and opt for the Nicene Creed) then all Christians doctrines are denominations - there by:
1c penny doctrine,
5c nickel doctrine,
10c dime doctrine,
25c quarter doctrine,
50c half-dollar doctrine, etc
= 1.00 dollar Eph 4 Church - some claim all Christians are part of the universal church.

I like the idea that non-denominational churches reject the idea of a denominational structure and opt for autonomous churches. This is similar to Paul when he opted not take money from the Corinthians but still claimed to have authority over them.

Maybe that is what non-denominational is, that there is no central government and only Christ is the head or leader?

So if non-denominational or denominational has nothing to do with doctrine. That begs the question: What is the definition of the One Doctrine in Eph 4?

Or, simply explain: What is a non-denominational church?

  • Can you please reference or quote the specific verses in Ephesians 4 you're talking about?
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 5, 2014 at 2:13
  • 1-13, but I call this only if you use 'doctrine' to define non-denom vs denom churches. Jan 5, 2014 at 5:07
  • I don't understand what you mean.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 5, 2014 at 5:20
  • I'm looking for the definition of a nondenominational church VS the definition of a denominational church. Because they claim to be different from one another. A nondenominational church gets offended when I called them a denominational church. But if you must talk about doctrine then explain the doctrine in Eph 4:1-13 AND how it is a SUPER set or a SUB set doctrine OF a nondenominational doctrine and/or OF a denominational doctrine. Jan 5, 2014 at 5:34
  • Why are you calling nondenominational churches denominational?
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 5, 2014 at 6:15

3 Answers 3


A non-denominational church is exactly what it sounds like. It is a Church that doesn't adhere to any earthly authority other than maybe the local Pastor at that Church. It doesn't recognize any denominational authority, just that of God and His Word.

I'd like to also address this portion of your question as well:

I was under the impression that since all Christians don't belong to one church, (They agree to disagree on Ephesians 4 and opt for the Nicene Creed) then all Christians doctrines are denominations - there by:
1c penny doctrine,
5c nickel doctrine,
10c dime doctrine,
25c quarter doctrine,
50c half-dollar doctrine, etc
= 1.00 dollar Eph 4 Church - some claim all Christians are part of the universal church.

Most Christians understand the universal Church to be the body of all saved Christians, period. It has nothing to do with denominations.

From Gotquestions.org

The universal church is the name given to the church worldwide. In this case the idea of the church is not so much the assembly itself but those constituting the church.

See also A Study of the Nature and Meaning of Jesus' Church: Universal and Local

A. The Church (Universal) Is the Body of All Saved People Everywhere.

It includes all those who have been redeemed by Jesus' blood, have received forgiveness of their sins, and have been born spiritually into His family.

In fact, it's recognized that within any given denomination, there are likely saved and unsaved people, so not all Baptists, for example, belong to the Universal Church, but some do and so on.

This can be represented with a really crude drawing (Sorry about the quality. the only graphics program I have on this PC is MS Paint.)

enter image description here

The large circle represents the Universal Church, and the little ones, the individual denominations and non-denominational churches. Bear in mind that according to the doctrine of Sola Fide, it's also possible for someone to be saved, and therefore also a member of the Universal Church without belonging to any earthly Church.

As for the One Doctrine...

If the definition of "Universal Church" is what I say above, then the "one true doctrine" is the "right" doctrine about Christ. By definition, it would be the doctrine that separates true Christians from false. It is what defines "who are the real Christians?", which means it exists out there in the real world, but is not answerable on this particular site.

  • I like your drawing. I see this seems to reconcile Gentile/Jew, David's Mighty Men, and the thief on the cross. How Christ/God accepted others besides the obvious. So it begs to ask my other question but I guess I better not. Jan 4, 2014 at 17:34

Having been brought up in a nondenominational church (which shall remain nameless), I have an appreciation for that particular method of church polity. Interestingly, the local church of my formative years was very similar to numerous (thousands, really) other local churches which held to a similar tradition. The ties between these local churches were largely informal, with no central authority or denominational structure to hold them all together.

Each local church, therefore, was responsible for its own finances, discipline, statement of faith, leadership, preachers and teachers, meeting times and places, ministries (e.g., Sunday school, evangelistic outreaches), ad infinitum. In other words, all the local churches had a common historical tradition with a subsequent uniformity of doctrinal beliefs, but with a "schizophrenic" identity as a nondenominational denomination! Let me explain.

Despite the informality of the ties between and among local churches within my "nondenomination," very often two, three, four, or more (sometimes many more) similar churches would band together to take on a project they all could get behind and support. An example of a project might be an evangelistic outreach in the tri-state area or the establishment of a Christian summer camp for kids. My dad was one of the founders of one such camp back in the 1950s, which is still going strong some 60 years later, to the blessing of thousands of young people who came to faith and/or were strengthened in their faith over the decades.

There was tremendous unity among the churches who participated in the camp project, and the camp was staffed and maintained over the years by perhaps seven or eight (or more) local churches through their freewill contributions of time, talent, and treasure. Truly, the camp ministry was a model of cooperation in the accomplishment of an overarching goal of reaching young people for Jesus Christ. Clearly, the camp was a miracle of God!

I could go on to explain how my "nondenomination" had an inordinate--given the relatively small size of our local churches--representation on the mission fields of the world. While on furlough, missionaries who were "commended" by a particular local church to vocational ministry in missions around the world, would "make the rounds" of their "nondenomination," giving updates on their mission work, showing slides (a primitive way of projecting pictures on a special screen, using a projector and tiny pieces of developed film affixed to cardboard squares, called slides), and soliciting prayers and perhaps freewill offerings which could be given to them in person, sent to them directly on the mission field, or even channeled to them through a "nondenominational" mission organization, which functioned as a conduit for monies earmarked for missions and missionaries. We even had a missions magazine which kept local churches informed of what "our" missionaries were doing in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and so on.

As you can tell, our little "nondenomination" had most--if not all--of the hallmarks of your garden variety denominations (e.g., Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Church of Christ, Church of the Brethren, ad infinitum), except for a central administrative hierarchy to which the denominational churches of our day were (and still are today) accountable. Despite our insistence on our nondenominational status, however, we did many things the denominations did, as I've already indicated, particularly in cooperative efforts in ministry, missions, and stewardship of church-planting funds through a separate but independently run funding corporation (a non-profit 501-C3).

Our insistence on being nondenominational, yet having many of the hallmarks of the denominations, may seem a bit "schizophrenic," and it was. Often when my fellow church members who trumpeted the loudest, "We're not a denomination!" I would think to myself, "Hmmm, the lady doth protest too much!"

Nevertheless, the whole enterprise seemed to work pretty well. Instead of paid ordained pastors or ministers we had volunteer lay preachers and a plurality of elders (and deacons) who exercised servant-leadership in the ongoing affairs of each local church. Years ago there were very few fulltime vocational church workers, save for missionaries who labored elsewhere, and the burdens of maintaining a local church fell to the members of each church. In recent years, I am told, fulltime vocational ministry is becoming increasingly common within my former "nondenomination."

It is quite obvious, then, that God is able to raise up a movement of like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ who have a vision for "doing church" in a slightly different way compared to the bigger denominations, whether they choose to affiliate with other simpatico local churches or not. Any way of "doing church" presents unique challenges, of course, and my little "nondenomination" was not exempt from any of them.

Schisms would crop up from time to time, and the "doctrinal distinctives" which drew us together initially became indistinct and a source of division and disunity within the movement, with subsequent hive-offs and the often hurt feelings and bitterness which accompany such partings of the way.

In conclusion, every local church, no matter how committed it may be to remain independent and thus insulated from the pitfalls of denominational hierarchies and levels of authority (whether presbyteries, bishoprics, governing boards, conferences, denominational headquarters, and the like), can fall prey to the same pitfalls--and more--without a critical mass of committed members who are determined to work together under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and in submission to Christ and to one another to accomplish together what they cannot do separately, no matter how energetic, committed, well endowed, and gifted they might be.

By the way, if you are curious about my current church affiliation, I have been a member of a local Christian and Missionary Alliance church for the last 15 years.

  • ... and for not using the word 'doctrine' Jan 5, 2014 at 5:16

First, a Christian Denomination is a group of congregations which has joined together to share a common confession of faith.

A non-denominational church is simply a single congregation which has it's own unique confession of faith. Or, in other words, it is its own denomination consisting of a single congregation.

I think this LCMS FAQ answer may also be of some assistance.

Q: I am confused regarding so many denominations that exist. Appreciate if you could provide advice regarding the Biblical and theological teaching for the following: "Some say that the existence of denominations within Christ's church is a tragedy caused by sin and immaturity; others claim that denominations are a blessing, since they produce diversity within the body of Christ." What do you think?

A: Since apostolic times visible Christendom has been divided. Although there are historical, cultural, and sociological factors that have contributed to such division, departure from God's truth revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures must be regarded as the principal cause for such division. The apostles themselves foresaw and had to deal with such division within early Christian communities (see, for example, Acts 20:25-31). While the Scriptures are the inerrant source and norm of all doctrine and while God's Truth is one, sinful human beings can and do err. Hence, division occurs in visible Christendom.

The same can be said for modern denominationalism. While there are historical, cultural and sociological factors involved in the formation of denominations, disagreement regarding the understanding and application of biblical doctrine remains the fundamental reason for division between and among them. We hold that there can be only one Truth, and that denominations exist because some Christians have departed from what is faithful to biblical doctrine. In spite of the divided state of Christendom, we in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod remain committed to the quest for external unity in the church based on agreement in doctrine. We believe that this is not an option, but is God's will.

  • I don't think confessions of faith are the central issue of denominations, after all there are many distinct denominations which share confessions (the various Anglican churches around the world), and there are churches in a denomination which really don't share a confession of faith (again, see the Anglican church ;) ). Really it's more about a shared organisational structure and shared authority and leadership.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 5, 2014 at 2:16

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