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I think the biggest advantage is accountability. If it's an established indy church, as you pointed out, all the authority is local, among the laity. If it's a new indy church the pastor might have too much authority and not enough accountability. Hmm, think that's where cults come from?
The idea of the denomination having your "back" so to speak really depends on what denomination and in what district. I know pastors that personally feel as if they have been thrown under the bus by local parishioners, who have received little support from their district or general leaders. This is one main reason why I am still not connected to a particular denomination (as far as ordination goes). I can't figure out what denomination God wants me in. I'm hoping it will be in one (if any) that will take my side more times than not against a few angry parents/board members. I wonder if main stream churches do this better than say the Wesleyan church? This is one reason I've looked into the UMC, despite the gasps among my Wesleyan colleagues.
Enjoyed the column and, as a life long Nazarene, I appreciated this look into how independents view denominations. I have commented n the past that any Nazarene who hasn't attended the love fest we call General Assembly doesn't really understand what it means to be a Nazarene. I don't think the independents have anything like it. That isn't to say I don't see advantages to being the Lone Ranger. But even he had his horse, Silver, and his faithful Indian companion, Tonto!
I found #7 to be the most interesting. I think many of us think that the denomination is the harbinger of strict membership rules. But it could be that if we left it to local churches the rules would be stricter not looser. This is not, however, an argument against leaving it to the local churches. Perhaps stricter local membership that is sensitive to context is a good idea. But the point is that we should not automatically assume that the denomination is the hardliner in these conversations.
I've been out of a denomination for a few years now. Frankly, I enjoy it on many levels. I have not experienced the isolation that you wrote about, though I can see where it may be a problem. I've seen as many denominationally-tied pastors feel isolated and alone as I have independants.It has always been discouraging to me when people identify more with their denomination than with Christ. "Hey, it's a great day to be a Wesleyan!" I've heard that kind of drivel at district conferences enough to choke on. If God leads me back into a denominational setting, I'll follow and humbly submit to those in authority. But until that time, I'm enjoying the ride on the indy train!But that's just me...
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