A Non-Denominational Church

Just some very rough and random thoughts about something that has been on my mind —

The idea of a “non-denominational church” has always appealed to me. Congregational autonomy has always been attractive to me. Of course I realize that denominational structures can exist without any official paperwork. that is, a group of churches can be very denominational without the usual markers of a headquarters, common creed, and governing body. Journal editors and representatives of educational institutions can exert a denominational governing influence, all the while claiming to be “non-denominational.”

But lately I have been wrestling with a couple of things. First, I have been wondering if total independence is really the best way for congregations to relate to one another. Can there be autonomy and meaningful interaction?

Second, in an age where “non-denominational” is appealing to a whole lot of people, I have been struck by how a congregation that is truly autonomous and without denominational ties can be considered denominational because of the name on their sign while a congregation that is tied to a large denomination can claim to be non-denominational and market themselves as autonomous. This seems very strange to me.

Is total independence best?
Is it ethical to claim non-denominational status when there are “off the books” denominational structures?
Is it ethical to market yourself as non-denominational when you are in fact, denominationally affiliated?

These questions keep swirling through my mind.