The number of churches opening in Columbia County might be continuing to grow, but that doesn't mean the word ''church'' or denomination names are becoming more prevalent.
Many places of worship are becoming less identified by their denomination or the word "church,'' some say, as societal changes occur.
Greg Porterfield, the senior Pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Evans, said he believes the name changes indeed follow a societal trend.
"I think people are more into individualism, and there's less of a desire to affiliate with institutional forms of things," Porterfield said. "I think it's just a societal trend ... I don't think it is too much good or bad. I think it is still important about the place."
Nondenominational churches such as Bible Centered Ministries in Martinez and Strong Tower Christian Fellowship near Grovetown seem to be becoming more popular. The World Networks of Religious Futurists reports that since 1980, 100,000 new nondenominational churches have been formed.
The Rev. Anthony Holland, of Strong Tower Christian Fellowship, believes people are more likely to visit a church based on its individual offerings if the denomination is left out of the name or if the church is nondenominational.
"For us personally, we were not drawn to any particular denomination and we did not want anything to form a barrier for people. So that people coming basically from any background could come and feel comfortable worshipping," Holland said, adding that his church of nearly 150 members recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
"I think some people just want to get away from the whole denomination because if you are not careful, you can focus more on the denomination than on the Lord and we can begin to talk more about the denomination than about focusing on the Lord," Holland said.
The Rev. Rudy Rosado, pastor of Bible Centered Ministries, said he knows that in the Bible Belt he could add Baptist or Methodist to his church's name and have a large church. But his church focuses on the teachings of the Bible exclusively, not the different doctrines of the many Christian denominations.
"I don't really want to break up Christianity into different denominations," Rosado said. "My thought 100 percent is we need to get back to the Bible instead of dividing ourselves up into different denominations ... We teach how to get to Christ and what Christ is about."
Holland said his church also focuses on the Bible, hence the Biblical name reference to Strong Tower from Proverbs 18:10.
For the unchurched, Holland said he doesn't believe a denomination means anything. But he admits that often a denomination can become a deterrent to getting people into church.
"You really can't see what we have to offer or really take a good look and make an assessment if you can't get past the door because of the denomination," Holland said.
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