Before the Martin Luther Reformation movement, there was only one church – the catholic church. But after the Reformation, the protestant wing of the church was born which resulted in the forming of many other splinter groups. Today, however, we also have non-denominational churches. So, what does the Bible say about non-denominational churches?
The Bible does not mention non-denominational churches or endorse a specific denomination but speaks of a singular church. Biblical evidence points to each church as self-governing and directly accountable to God. In this structure, a church typically has two primary leaders—elders/overseers and deacons—with Christ recognized as the ultimate head. Notably, there is no indication of a regional or global church hierarchy. These biblical principles align with the foundational beliefs of non-denominational churches.
What Are Non-Denominational Churches?
The dictionary defines a denomination as a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices. So, church denominations are larger organizations with particular identities, beliefs, and traditions. A broader organization usually sets forth directives on things such as leadership structures and membership.
On the other hand, in non-denominational churches, each church makes its own decisions and uses the Bible as the authority that dictates teaching, worship, and other aspects of church life. So, they don’t follow the beliefs set out by a larger organization.
Non-denominational churches arose out of a desire for independence and a need to return to the biblical basics of Christianity. They are also led by members of the church congregation, which reflects a belief that a church is a community of believers rather than a hierarchy.
There Are No Established Hierarchical Structures
Non-denominational churches are led by elders who are also part of the congregation. Still, there is no hierarchy, and they consider the local church an autonomous, self-governing body. This aligns with biblical scriptures where elders guide the congregation, but Christ remains the head of the church (Ephesians 1:2, Colossians 1:18; 2:10).
Additionally, the Bible guides how a church should be organized. Elders/overseers/pastors and deacons are in charge of the congregation, but there is no global church hierarchy (Acts 14:23, Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1- 10 and 12). The biblical text teaches that the elders and deacons are responsible for leading and overseeing the church’s affairs and attending to the flock’s spiritual needs.
In the early churches, part of the responsibility of apostles was to appoint elders in each new church, but that is as far as the hierarchy went. However, all the churches helped and communicated with each other (Romans 16:16). For instance when Agabus came from Jerusalem to Antioch, he prophesied that there would be a great famine. The disciples collectively decided that each person, based on their ability, would contribute and provide assistance to the believers residing in Judea. They then sent this relief to the elders. (Acts 11:27-30).
When believers needed clarification or guidance on biblical matters, they went to apostles and church elders (Acts 15). So, there was no extended church hierarchy. Each church had its own elders vested with equal authority. This biblical hierarchy aligns with the organizational structure of non-denominational churches.
Non-Denominational Churches Believe In God The Son
John 15:5 states, “I am the vine, and you are the branches.” This scripture explains that Jesus is the vine from which all life comes, meaning, He is indeed God the Son. In John 1:1-3, we are told of who God is and that all things are made through Him.
However, even as God’s creations, we are born with a sinful nature that prevents us from having a relationship with God (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 59:2). Because of our sins, Jesus died on the cross, and by believing in Him, we get to have a relationship with God and eternal life (Romans 6:23, 8:38–39)
The foundational doctrines of non-denominational churches include the acknowledgment of one God, the recognition of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the significance of His death and resurrection, and the anticipation of His second coming. These beliefs are shared not just by non-denominational churches but also by all Christians.
Non-Denominational Churches Believe The Bible Is God’s Word
The Bible is called the word of God and a direct communication to man (2 Timothy 3:15–17). It’s the ultimate authority in matters of faith and sin. Through the Bible, we understand who God is and what we need to do to have a relationship with him.
Both the Old and New Testaments contain scriptures with phrases such as ‘thus says the Lord,’ ‘says the Lord,’ or ‘the Lord says’ (Isaiah 43:1, Exodus 5:1, Judges 6:8, Jeremiah 9:23, 33:2, Acts 7:49, Hebrews 8:8, Romans 12:19). These expressions point to divine revelation, providing evidence that the Bible is indeed the word of God. The belief in the Bible as God’s word is another central dogma of a non-denominational church rooted in Biblical principles.
Non-Denominational Churches Engage in Believers Baptism
Baptism is not tied to any specific church denomination; rather, it is a practice instructed by Christ Himself (Matthew 28:19-20). Before Jesus began His ministry, He was baptized by John the Baptist. Non-denominational churches adhere to credobaptism (also known as believers’ or adult baptism) which is a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ. In addition, the individual being baptized is fully immersed in water.
Water baptism is a great step in following Jesus. Credobaptism is encouraged in the Bible, and a good example was when Paul told a congregation, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).
Those who accepted Paul’s message about Christ were baptized (verse 41). In another instance, Paul and Silas were in jail, and one of the jailers asked what he needed to do to be saved. He was told to believe in the Lord Jesus, and they baptized him and his household (Acts 16:30-33). So, when it comes to baptism, non-denominational churches follow what the Bible says and use Jesus as an example.
The Bible doesn’t talk about a specific church denomination, but it gives us the “church” concept, which aligns with the practices of non-denominational churches. Consequently, these churches are grounded in biblical principles. Their beliefs, such as church hierarchy, baptism, and accepting the Bible as God’s words, are rooted in biblical teachings.