I remember long ago when I first entered the U.S. Army, I had to list my religious preference to be inscribed on my personalized “dog-tags”. I defiantly wrote, “Independent” – Thinking in my own rebellious way that this somehow set me apart from the Lutheran denomination I had grown up in – nominally that is.
As a Christian I have always been affiliated with a church or a network of churches who all considered themselves to be independent, non-denominational fellowships. The major flaw in this delusion is that we were just like a bunch of other independent, non-denominational churches. In fact, we were so much alike that you would have thought we had been mass produced on a 3d-printer. We pretty much acted the same, spoke the same, thought the same, embraced the same staged formats, sang the same songs, had same style of worship, the same church lingo, the same programs, the same best-sellers, the same sensational movements, the same cutting-edge innovations, the same church growth strategies, the same church window dressing and the same look and feel.
We may have had a cool church name, a youthful appearance, contemporary music, sat on folding chairs instead of hardback pews, had a hip-hop pastor with tats, earrings and sat on a stool rather than behind a pulpit but these were just more religious affectations that didn’t alter the essential nature of the church. We prided ourselves into thinking that we were church non-conformists but we were really just conforming to the same non-conformity as many other independent, non-denominational churches.
We may have thought we were independent. We may have been under the delusion that we had freed ourselves form the shackles of denominationalism. Though we may have firmly believed that we were non-denominational, for all intents and purposes, we were just as denominational as the Baptists across the street, the Lutheran’s on the next corner or the mega church in the suburbs.
We were just another non-denominational denomination practicing many of the same empty forms of godliness so a part of churchianity down through the centuries. The only ones we were really fooling were ourselves.