What is a Denomination?

The latest from Seth Godin:

Organization vs. movement vs. philosophy

An organization uses structure and resources and power to make things happen. Organizations hire people, issue policies, buy things, erect buildings, earn market share and get things done. Your company is probably an organization.

movement has an emotional heart. A movement might use an organization, but it can replace systems and people if they disappear. Movements are more likely to cause widespread change, and they require leaders, not managers. The internet, it turns out, is a movement, and every time someone tries to own it, they fail.

philosophy can survive things that might wipe out a movement and that would decimate an organization. A philosophy can skip a generation or two. It is often interpreted, and is more likely to break into autonomous groups, to morph and split and then reunite. Industrialism was a philosophy.

The trouble kicks in when you think you have one and you actually have the other.

So what is a Christian denomination? Is it an organization, a movement, or a philosophy?

The answer to that question helps determine the level of angst one feels over being in a post-denominational reality.

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One thought on “What is a Denomination?

  1. You and I will always be able to agree on Seth Godin!

    Can’t say which of these the PCUSA is. I’d like for it to be an organization. That would allow for it to make room for me and others like me in it. But if it’s a movement or a philosophy (in its current incarnation) I’m afraid I’ll be shown the door before too long.

    One thing is sure though. Seth Godin for GA moderator!

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