First there was post-modern (thanks Søren Kierkegaard, and later Jaques Derrida), and then we were introduced to post-evangelicalism (thanks Dave Tomlinson). Now we are beginning to talk seriously about post-denominationalism (thanks Tony Jones and emerging church folk everywhere).
As a minister in a mainline denominational church, I have conflicting feelings with regard to this issue. My local church is a part of a denominational system that functions adequately, but that is struggling with maintaining unity and surviving economically. As we approach our annual conferences we are again facing the same devisive issues that have threatened to tear apart our tribe for years. Declining membership and attendance are forcing local congregations and district superintindents to seriously consider their futures, and although some churches are growing, too many are facing difficult choices.
Is there something to the idea of a post-denominational ecclesial structure? Have we gotten to the place where Christendom (and the denominational system that is a result) has reached its proverbial end?
I wonder how many people who attend churches on any given Sunday attend because of their affiliation to the denomination. I wonder if people don't simply "go" to a specific church because it offers what they are looking for. If the church has a good band or choir, an inspiring preacher, a well organized Sunday School program for the kids and an exciting youth group, do we go regardless of what denomination they are affiliated with?
Do you care that your church is Presbyerian? Catholic? Baptist? Pentecostal? or do you just go because you feel like God led you there? or because it seems right to you?
Even so called non-denominational churches can be very structured, political and hierarchical.
So what does a post-denominational eclessiology look like? Is it necessary for the 21st Century Church in the West to embrace post-denominationalism in order to survive? If so, do we need to return to a more apostolic form of eclessiology like the one proposed by writers like Alan Hirsch and others?
Perhaps only time will tell.