One of the questions I find hardest to answer as a pastor is “What denomination is your Church?”. It’s not a hard question because I don’t know – Catalyst is part of the Church of the Nazarene. And it’s not hard because I don’t know about our denomination.
No, it’s a hard question because everyone has different experiences with denominations. Some people come from a specific denomination – Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian – and want a church that is close on the theological family tree. Others have no idea what denominations are, so when I tell them we’re Nazarene, it doesn’t mean anything at all.
There’s also been a massive shift in my generation: baby boomers and older show a significantly higher amount of denominational loyalty – they move to a new town and if they went to a Methodist church, they find a new Methodist church. But Xers and Millennials are different. We’re relationally oriented.
What does that mean? When I was in high school, 5 or 6 of my friends and I had a bible study that met before school. One of us was Catholic, another Methodist, another Presbyterian, a Lutheran. A couple of us were Southern Baptist. And none of us had any clue what any of that meant. None of us even thought about asking why we all went to different churches, or what those differences were. We just met together to read and discuss Scripture and pray for each other.
This is why a lot of younger generations are skeptical of denominations. They seem like arbitrary distinctions that separate us from each other when the heart of faith is relationship with each other.
And that can be the case, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s explore why as a Church we are Nazarene and how our particular identity helps us know God better.