So here's wikipedia on "sect":
A sect is a small religious group that has branched off of a larger established religion. Sects have many beliefs and practices in common with the religion that they have broken off from, but are differentiated by a number of doctrinal differences. In contrast, a denomination is a large, well established religious group.
The church I grew up in was self described as "independent baptist". Among other things, I imbibed growing up in this church the idea that we were right, and everybody else--even all the other christian churches out there, were wrong. They were wrong in thinking it was okay to ever drink alcohol, they were wrong in sending their children to those evil public schools, they were wrong in using any translation of the scripture into English other than the King James Authorized Translation (translated in 1611). They were wrong to not condemn homosexuality. They were wrong to not teach that parents should spank their children. They were wrong to allow women be pastors. They were wrong to use and allow the use of contraceptives. They were wrong to promote the evil UN, the evil of civil rights legislation, the evil of public education. Other "Protestants" (saying "other protestants" doesn't really work, since some among us believed we had apostolic succession outside the catholic or protestant lines) were mostly wrong, and Catholics were dangerously wrong and probably not even Christians. Seminaries in general were sneeringly referred to as "Cemeteries". I imbibed the idea that the only safe place in the world was inside our little religious group, since we had the answers. People who left the group, unless they had the full approval of the leadership of the group to leave (which was rare), were thought of as being 'on the outside', and one could only hope they would come back to god/the right way of doing things someday (that is, back to us), so that their lives wouldn't be utterly destroyed by the dangerous and wrong world outside our group.
I mean obviously I couldn't see all these things with the same perspective with which I am now able to see them. They were not all definitely overt, although many of them were proclaimed from the pulpit.
So I spent a good year gradually convincing the senior pastor and founder, Tom, and the associate pastor, Mike, that it would be an okay idea for me to go off with the (to them fairly radical) missions organization Operation Mobilisation (OM) (this is interesting because in a bigger picture sense OM itself is a fairly conservative evangelical organization). The chief complaint which they had with OM was that OM's policy on church planting is that when an OM team plants a church, they encourage that church to affiliate denominationally with whatever denomination is the most locally/structurally available to them for support. That is, for instance, if an OM team plants a church in a rural area where, for instance, the nearest other churches are, for instance, Assemblies of God, then they will encourage that church to become assemblies of God. Sensible, right? Tom and Mike saw this as a huge problem because then of course the church would by association end up with all the terrifying and deadly doctrinal error of Assemblies of God.
Anyway, Tom and Mike finally acquiesced. Here's to importunity.
During my two years with OM, one of the things I learned about which I'd not previously heard of is the practice of pastors and church leaders from a city or town all getting together to pray, talk, envision together for their city or town. OM actually promoted this sort of thing.
When I got back to little old Monroe Washington (population 13000) in early 2001, one of the first things I said to Tom was, "So is there a monthly pastors meeting here in Monroe where the pastors get together and pray and talk and envision together for Monroe? The reason I ask is I'm wondering if I can come with you to the meeting? I'd keep my mouth shut. I just want to listen and watch and learn and get excited." Tom responded
"Yes, there is such a meeting, but I don't go. There are two Catholic priests
and one woman pastor who attend that meeting. If I were to show up, I would be
implicitly giving my approval for them being there."
That is exactly what he said. And that's what I'm talking about when I say the church I grew up in was sectarian.