Honeyville Church: Denominational or Congregational?

Subject: Religion
Pages: 12
Words: 1105
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: PhD


The Christian denomination is wide and often takes the route of denominational or congregational form. Congregational churches are protestant. Congregational churches use congregational governance where each congregation autonomously controls its church affairs (Wind, Burck, Camenisch, & McCann, 1991). Congregational churches normally appear as small units of churches. Conflicts are persistent in congregational churches because of the individual interests among the congregants. Congregants often tend to control the church. Denominational churches on the other hand are churches that develop from the large denominations. They are often large and led by certain values and principles enshrined in their denominational systems (Wind et al., 1991). Following such distinctions, this essay discusses the case of the Honeyville Church, which presents a situation that describes some significant issues that are prevalent in congregational churches.

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The Dynamics in the Case

The first dynamic that bewilders the Honeyville Church is the confusion between the influence of individual members on the church leadership and the understanding of the scriptures about church leadership. Whereas the priest was scripturally right in his teachings, the congregants remained swayed by the political influence of particular family individuals believed to have a historical church influence. The dilemma is that the innocent congregants were in confusion as to whether to listen to the pastoral teachings driven from the bible or submit to the political influence of Mr. Smith. Another issue that affected the Honeyville Church is the confusion between the latest biblical scriptures and the particular conservative ideologies. According to the case, the Honeyville Church was historically a congregation that practiced specific conservative practices that were deemed uneasy to eliminate in the spiritual minds of the congregants.

Separating the idea of church leadership from the scriptural teachings was also a dilemma that pervaded the minds of the believers in the Honeyville Church. The church leaders in this congregational church exerted some direct influence on the teachings that the congregants expected to learn from their priests. The lack of a specific denominational foundation was another significant dilemma that marred the Honeyville Church. The church developed from three distinct denominations that existed without specific spiritual foundations or religious principles. In the Honeyville Church, there were neither parish norms nor denominational policies that the congregants could follow. Another issue that affected the Honeyville Church is the lack of scriptural knowledge among the congregants. The congregants remained confused because they could not establish independent facts through the bible to justify the actions of either Mr. Smith or those of the new pastor.

Concepts Learnt from the Case

The first concept that appears in the case of the Honeyville Church is the idea of congregationalism. From religious studies and theologian perspectives, congregationalism is a form of a church system where the church governance relies on the influence of the local congregation (Wind et al., 1991). From the idea of congregationalism, several concepts arise. Issues of church leadership, practices of worship, biblical conformity, and church principles were prevalent concerns in the case of the Honeyville Church. In terms of leadership, congregational churches are nondenominational and the congregants autonomously influence the governance of the church (Wind et al., 1991). The church power rests upon the individual congregants and not upon the church elders, the church bishops, or through some denominational values. In terms of history, congregational churches lack specific governance principles and only conservative practices dominate their church functions.

In terms of their practices of worship, congregational churches have their own beliefs concerning the idea of worshiping (Wind et al., 1991). Just as witnessed in the case of the Honeyville Church, congregational churches trust in the doctrine of the Christian faith but have a tenuous fellowship among the congregants who possess widely varying beliefs. They often struggle to stand on the biblical position, yet they frequently fail to hold one another answerable to the mistakes they make. Whereas conformity to biblical teachings is a complex religious issue, congregational churches rarely conform to the biblical teachings as individual power sometimes influences the church preaching (Wind et al., 1991). Lastly, in terms of church principles, congregational churches, just as witnessed in the case of the Honeyville Church, are sovereign because they take liberal positions in their policies.

My Action Plan in the Case Scenario

Changing conservative church beliefs and systems is a demanding practice just like changing the cultural norms of the culturally conventional people (Wind et al., 1991). Given a chance to lead the Honeyville Church as the Chief Priest, I will design a pragmatic leadership and knowledge-fostering plan. The situation that calls for my intervention as a pastor is the dilemma of delineating between individual power influences, conservative religious practices, and the biblical teachings about leadership and congregation. My systematic plan will start by fostering knowledge among the congregants about true deeds required in the leadership of a church, and the reason why Christians should distinguish between the biblical teachings and individual power influences. This approach will give me a chance to educate the congregants on how individuals influence congregations and teachings.

From a Christian denominational perspective, all churches and believers must understand that a church is a holy place for worshiping and not a place for creating self-affirmation and social acceptance (Wind et al., 1994). I will create a separate congregation meeting that will deliver holistic teachings to the congregants concerning the need for upholding the biblical position rather than adhering to the conformist church practices and influential leaders. I will design another meeting with the church leaders to help them understand the need to uphold Christian denominational ideas that have reference to the true teachings of the Holy Scriptures. With time, I will establish the church principles that the leaders and the congregants will feel that they truly abide by the teachings of the bible. Each plan will have direct teachings derived from the bible.

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Congregationalism is old, but a widely prevalent aspect in modern churches. Congregational churches have their history within the parameters of the congregational systems, where the congregants influence the church leadership. The case of the Honeyville Church presents a scenario that explains the true characteristics of a congregational church. Individual congregants highly influence the leadership of congregational churches. Just as in the case of the Honeyville Church, an influential Smith Family influenced the church leadership, even as the believers trusted the board members of the church. The members remained swayed by the conservative church ideologies that accommodated the behaviors of influential individuals who were on a mission to create their self-affirmations and social acceptances. As a pastor in this kind of church, I would opt to set congregational teachings and leadership teachings directly derived from the biblical foundations.


Wind, J., Burck, J., Camenisch, P., & McCann, D. (1991). Clergy Ethics in a Changing Society: Mapping the Terrain. Louisville, United States: Westminster John Knox Press.