Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What's In A Name?

Churches have some interesting names. Non-denominational churches, especially, tend to get a little "creative" in their names, while some traditional churches go with "First So-and-So Church of This Area" or whatever. Some churches even include slogans with their signage and "advertising," speaking of "Full-gospel" and "Spirit-filled."

I don't know about you, but I find that these churches usually need some form of advertising, because nothing else draws people to them. No, I'm not saying that every church with a funky name or certain catch-phrases do this, but it seems that, more often than not, the more convincing a church's name or slogans tries to be, the less that church is what it claims to be.

There's nothing inherently wrong with denominational or non-denominational churches, nothing at all. What's wrong in too many churches, though, is that they rely on the name or the reputation of their leadership, denomination, or whatever rather than focusing on what's truly important.

Christ is the head of His Body, which is referred to as "the Church." I'm not talking about "the universal Church of Such-and-Such" or "the Holy Something Church." I'm talking about the family of believers who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. Many of these do belong to a smaller fellowship of like-minded believers, and that's OK. But when that fellowship, or church or whatever other term you want to use, loses sight of God's Word -- both Jesus the Word made flesh and the Bible -- and looks instead on its denomination, leadership, building, etc., that fellowship gets into trouble.

Churches in England are poorly attended. Over 20 Catholic churches alone have closed down within a year's time, if I recall the figure correctly. Many churches have an attendance in the teens -- no, not in age, but in quantity. A "megachurch" in the UK may have as many as 250 in attendance regularly. The USA isn't far behind, folks. As Christians abandon the uppermost authority of their lives, their so-called "Christianity" becomes worthless. That's when other cults and godless religions step in. Many of the shut-down cathedrals and churches in England have been turned into Islamic mosques. How long before we see the same thing happening in the US?

If you, reading this, are in any form of church leadership, the first step is for you to make a personal stand in your own life. Be willing to let go of denominational rules and statements of "faith" and anything else that may get in the way of hearing what God has to say to you. You may discover that the denominational rules and statements of faith are OK. You may discover some differences between those and what the Bible, taken as a whole, really says. By being willing to let go of anything other than the Word of God, though, you're taking your first step towards a whole new growth area. Then, as a leader, you can help lead your family and your church in a life-changing direction.

Let's face it, people don't need more fraternal organizations. People need a life-changing relationship with God. Set the example.
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