During my last post, I outlined some very different conversations that I had had recently with 3 individuals describing their living church ministries videos and what they thought was important. In essence, they were detailing their church identity.
The basic premise of this entry is about identity and how we’ve got to figure out who we are, both as individuals and as organizations (i.e., church). I believe it is a serious challenge with momentous implications. So, let’s see if we can begin to figure this stuff out.
So, the questions that need answered are:
What really matters most about a church’s identity? There are many contributing factors that tell folks what is important and that ultimately defines a church’s identity. Probably too many to list in this post. To name just a few:
1. Are they fulfilling needs? Is the church there just to serve itself or is it trying to understand the needs of its’ community?
2. Is it a voice in the community? If no one knows about or understands your church, maybe that is not the identity you are attracted to
3. Like minded individuals? Does your church embrace all forms of people? How about belief systems? Are there some types that are less than welcome for whatever reason?
4. Does your church deliver an incredible experience? This means different things to different folks. But are enough folks who come leaving with that feeling?
Here are some things that negatively affect a church’s identity are:
1. We think we’re all that matters. As such, there isn’t a lot of room for new ideas. Things are done the same way month after month, year after year. Have you had the exact same Christmas Service multiple years in a row? Another aspect is that we’d rather be the church on the cover than the church on the corner. We’re too quick to package something that seems to work for other churches vs. seeing if it is going to meet the needs of the people who might attend. That begins to makeup our church identity.
2. We forget about what really matters. Too many times, we are so focused on being “like that church”, that we need to be reminded about who we are and showing up authentically in the community. As a result, it becomes a slippery slope to go from what really matters to ending up with a church identity that is totally different than was desired.
3. We would rather deal with smaller matters. Some folks call it fragmentation. Others term it disintegration. No matter. Just like folks facing foreclosure who refuse to open the delinquent mortgage notices, many churches don’t have the fortitude to face themselves in the mirror and be honest about what is important. We’ve departmentalized everything, creating turf wars and competing agendas. Somewhere in our quest to delegate, we have lost our cohesiveness. In the interim, the church’s identity gets lost in the shuffle.