Churches – Places of Worship – Religious Groups
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The denomination lies between the church and the sect on the continuum. Denominations come into existence when churches lose their religious monopoly in a society. A denomination is one religion among many. When churches and/or sects become denominations, there are also some changes in their characteristics. Johnstone provides the following eight characteristics of denominations:
- similar to churches, but unlike sects, in being on relatively good terms with the state and secular powers and may even attempt to influence government at times
- maintain at least tolerant and usually fairly friendly relationships with other denominations in a context of religious pluralism
- rely primarily on birth for membership increase, though it will also accept converts; some actively pursue evangelization
- accept the principle of at least modestly changing doctrine and practice and tolerate some theological diversity and dispute
- follow a fairly routinized ritual and worship service that explicitly discourages spontaneous emotional expression
- train and employ professional clergy who must meet formal requirements for certification
- accept less extensive involvement from members than do sects, but more involvement than churches
- often draw disproportionately from the middle and upper classes of society
Most of the major Christian bodies formed post-reformation are denominations by this definition (e.g., Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists)
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