Eight Reasons People Are Leaving Denominational Churches for Non-denominational Churches

April 22, 2015

While working on an unrelated research project, I recently came across some data published by the Hartford Institute of Religion Research. Though the information was five years old, it still seemed highly relevant today. In essence, the data showed that non-denominational churches are now the second largest Protestant group in America. Only the Southern Baptist Convention is larger.

Here are some of the fascinating nuggets from that study:

  • There are more than 12 million people who affiliate with non-denominational churches.
  • The research found at least 35,000 non-denominational churches in America.
  • Non-denominational churches are in 88% of the counties in the United States.
  • Non-denominational churches are one of the top five largest religious groups in 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In light of the growth of these churches, I conducted an informal Twitter poll and asked why people are moving to non-denominational congregations from churches affiliated with denominations. Here are the top eight responses in order. There is obvious overlap in some of the responses.

  1. Denominational churches have a negative reputation. Some respondents used the phrase “negative brand” to communicate this reason.
  2. Denominations are known more for what they are against than what they are for.
  3. There is too much infighting and politics in denominations.
  4. The denominational churches are too liberal. From what I can tell from these respondents, they are current and former members of mainline churches.
  5. There is a general waning of institutional loyalty in institutions such as denominations.
  6. Denominations have inefficient systems and organizations. They are too bureaucratic.
  7. Some of the respondents could see no perceived benefit to belonging to denominations.
  8. Denominations are not good stewards of their financial resources.

I plan on doing a second poll in the near future to see how respondents view denominations positively. In the meantime, let me hear from you.

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178 Comments

  • I agree with some:
    Politics, liberal etc..
    Denomitions, don’t promote the gifts of Spirit in live of called Believers.
    Because of the system ..

  • Denominational churches are really too much politics. I totally agree with all those reasons. I still wonder why there are still churches like that.

  • THE NUMBER REASON , SHOULD BE AND FOR ME IS [ IS NOT BIBLICAL ,PERIOD.

  • It’s been interesting to watch the relationship between Churches of Christ and other non-denominational churches. In some ways, such as a lack of hierarchy beyond the local congregation, the models are similar. In terms of connections and interactions with other churches, this lack of hierarchy also seems to produce some level of division and perhaps even distrust. As the non-denominational movement has grown, I have seen many in my own tribe say, “Hey, those guys are stealing our lines! We’ve been doing this for 200 years!” 🙂 Great article and great thoughts as always, Thom. Thanks.

  • ‘Numerous main line denominations have fallen to a social gospel of political
    correctness. There is nothing politically correct about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    These big denominations are emptying out while the bible preaching, Christ
    honoring churches are filling up. Bending the gospel to fit current political
    trends is not what we are called to. Nice people of all persuasions go to hell.
    Add to or subtract from the bible at your eternal peril.

  • Some, if not many, denominational Christian churches still operate under some of the Old Covenant practices. Some, still have priests; they collect tithes, which had the do with the priests. New Covenant giving is, that each believer is supposed to decide in his/her heart what to give, and to do each joyfully. Give as much as you are able, but it is not bondage. Neither should you feel that you have to “pay” to attend church services. Two or more believers make the Church; church facilities are just that, a place for like-minded believers to gather in edifying each other. The outreach is usually mostly outside the facility; wherever two or more believers are at, that’s church. Not all people realize that their are two theologies of Biblical interpretation. The Calvinist interpretation basically is that at birth, God chooses who is saved and who is not. Some denominations that follow this interpretation are the Presbyterians, and the Lutherans. This interpretation is a lie! Jesus said that anyone who calls on his name shall be saved, therefore salvation is available to everyone, if they so chose to repent of their sins before Almighty God, in the name of Jesus. The true interpretation is what some call the Armenian or Wesleyan, interpretation. Any fallacy is what some denominations, including the Southern Baptist believe, that once you are saved, you are always saved. This is not true. Yes, it is true that no one can take away your salvation, but you can give it up, by going back to sinful living. And, it appears that most Protestant churches (fellowships) don’t believe or teach about the Rapture, the snatching away, or catching up of Christian believers, i.e. The Church, the Bride of Christ, before God deals with the unbelieving Jewish nation, during the 7 years of Tribulation, for rejecting the Messiah, Jesus Christ. After the end of the seven years, Jesus Himself will return with His Bride, the (New Covenant) Church, along with his angels to put an end to the Tribulation; that is the 2nd Coming of Christ. At the Rapture, He does not come down to Earth itself, but first resurrects the dead in Christ onto the clouds, in eternal, resurrected bodies, and then transform the living Believers into new, eternal, perfect bodies. Most Jews don’t believe in Jesus today, because God Himself has blinded their eyes, their understanding, in part until they are afforded the opportunity to repent and accept the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, during the Tribulation. Unfortunately, many, if not most who do will be martyred, but will be resurrected at Jesus’ 2nd Coming. Some believe that Gentiles, i.e. non-Jews, will have an opportunity to be saved during the Tribulation (I hope that is true, but!). I don’t believer that, because in the book of Romans, it states that when the last Gentile is brought in, i.e. to the Church, in other words, saved, then the Rapture will occur. After the Rapture, God will raise up 144,000 Jewish Messengers, i.e. Believers of Christ, to spread the message of salvation to the Jewish Nation. At the 2nd Coming of Christ, He will establish His Kingdom on the Earth, for 1,000 years, hence The Millennium. He will rule the Earth, assisted by His Bride, the New Testament Believers, and Jewish Believers. Hallelujah! Help us Lord to overcome this decadent society!

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