Is your church's brand an idol?

Featured

Their signs were all along the road. The flags stood high in the air, letting me know I was in the right place. As I entered the parking lot, it was filled with cars with the church logo in their windows. Approaching the sanctuary, directly to the right of the door, was the merch table. I could buy a t-shirt with the church’s logo on it. 

No mention of Jesus. 

No mention of God.

No mention of the mission.

Just the logo.

Here’s the thing, minus the merch table, this could have described my church.

In the beginning, it was so important that people knew we were different from the other churches. I wanted the people in my community when they thought of church to have mine come to their mind first. After all, isn’t it about getting people in the door?

The point of the church is to proclaim that there is a better way. Jesus comes with love, hope, and liberty. Jesus’ Kingdom is being established in hearts and changing lives.

We want others to be a part of that.

Yet what I see, and what I have had to address in my own heart, is that we are creating organizational kingdoms and not Christ centred ones. Churches have become more concerned about branding their church and living out the mission of the church rather than proclaiming Christ and living out the life God is calling us too. Church’s do service projects in their community for the publicity rather than out of a heart of love. They love to broadcast all their good deeds, some are even God deeds, yet their self-praise ends up leaving them hollow.

I fear that we are treading too close to a Pharisaic mindset.

In the Scriptures, the book of Matthew takes the role of calling out the hypocrisy within the faith community. There were no “Christians” at the time. Thus, Jesus is speaking to the Jewish community, the one he was a part of. You see, the Jewish religious leaders of the time were more concerned about showing off the brand of their religion—holiness and piousness. In the book of Matthew, especially in chapter twenty-three, Jesus calls out the religious leaders tie to their religious brand, the promoting of themselves, and their lack of Integrity.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.”

Matt 23:5-7

It is not about your brand. It is about the Kingdom of God. It’s about a God who loved us enough, that while we were still covered in the muck of our misdeeds, he comes to lifts us out.

I love what Neil Cole writes,

“There are many books, tapes, seminars, an CD’s made to help people build the church, but if you are building the church, it isn’t the church. Jesus did not say ‘And upon this rock you will build my church.’ Jesus, an only Jesus, builds the church. If we build a church that is based on a charismatic personality, an innovative methodology, or anything else, we have a church that is inferior to that which Jesus would build.”

Your church isn’t about you, your church name or logo, your pastor, system, style, or whatever else you can think of.

The Church of Christ is about one thing, Christ. He will build it. Not your savvy.

Sure, you can market people into the building. We can appeal and dazzle. Unfortunately, time and time again, what I see is that people are attracted by the brand and then commissioned to be spokespersons’ of the church rather than the cross.

The Church is called to more. Let’s set aside the idol of our brand and instead pursue hearts that align with what it means to be a Christ Kingdom builder.

Check out the resources used in this post

Books you need to read in 2020

The year isn’t done yet, but as the Christmas season rolls around the corner there might be some books that you would like to get for that special someone… or, let’s be honest, yourself. These are books I’ve read. Most of which are in the last years and a half. At the end I tag a couple on that I’m looking to read in 2020

Here’s a list, links, and a short reason why.

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide To Money by Dave Ramsey

I read this book early on in 2019 in preparation for a series I was doing. I cannot say how much it changed my families approach to money. It helped us to be intentional and smart with our cash. I cannot recommend it enough. Grab your copy here: https://amzn.to/2Rz4vE9

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

At first, I must be honest, I thought “what have I got myself into?!” But just like most reviews of the book I read, I must echo that if you stick with it through the disjointed parts you will be rewarded. I find my emotions swirling constantly as Albom slowly unfolds the story of a boy and his guitar. You can grab your copy here: https://amzn.to/345sbmd

The Day The Revolution Began by N.T. Wright

The Day The Revolution Began is not for the faint of heart. It is heavy! Literally and figuratively. Wright begins be spelling out the history around the cross and the Jewish belief/practice of laying down one’s life for another. Wright then methodically unravels various Scriptures (mostly Paul’s letters) as he points us toward the true nature of the cross, thus revealing the character of God. If you have question on how a good God could kill His son (what we call cosmic child abuse) then this is a book for you. If you want to go deeper into understanding both the cross and Scripture in richer ways, I cannot recommend this book enough. Pick up your copy here: https://amzn.to/36hvg43

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while and it was also published many years ago. Saying this Godin spells out some important principles are pretty universal when it comes to marketing. Be a Purple Cow… how? well, you’ll have to read the book for that. grab your copy here:https://amzn.to/2s8trYA

The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder

My country, Canada, just went through an election. this book help me immensely while thinking through, what would Jesus do? As my neighbours to the south begin to embark of an election also, I cannot recommend this book enough. Yoder looks at some very important principles in Jesus’ life and teachings and how they affect us here today. While things are the same, there are some general principles that are. Get your copy here: https://amzn.to/36kBhNg

Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright

Wright show up again, and in the same vein as Yoder, this book helped me navigate the complicated waters of Jesus and politics. Now, that is only one aspect of this book. Wright does an exemplary job of putting Jesus in His historical period and point us toward a kingdom life. Grab your copy here: https://amzn.to/2RxIh5u

Short Stories by Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine

Levin takes a fresh look at the parables of Jesus and pulls us into the mind of a Jewish person of that time. I’m not all the way through this book (I’m about half which you can track by connecting with me on Goodreads.) and have been reading as part of my devotions each morning. Levin as a way of poignantly, but humorously, pulling out insights that never crossed my white, male, western mind. We are captive to our experiences, Levin helps us expand those. Grab you copy here: https://amzn.to/2DWR1Kv

Hidden Faces by Josh Trombley

I am biased. However I really believe my book will enrich your life for the positive. I explore Biblical narratives in ways that will affect your life. Personal stories, humour, and yes, pictures, help convey the truth that God loves you with a deep passion, you are His child, and He is the one you defines your value. There is no need to put on masks (or faces) but we must strive to be who Christ has declares us to be. Grab your copy: https://amzn.to/38vo32q

Einstein by Walter Isaacson

A fascinating look at a fascinating man. Einstein overcame great trials, prejudice, and his own prideful self limitations to become the premier scientific mind of the 20th century. His story is encouraging, inspiring, and challenging. A fantastic read. Grab you copy: https://amzn.to/2Yuz4MA

On My Reading List For 2020

Inspired Imperfection by Greg Boyd

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Eternity Is Now In Session by John Ortberg

History and Eschatology by N.T. Wright

What are some of your “must reads” of 2020? What books are on your “to-reads” for 2020?

Life Takes a Village

This is an important message that we all need to hear and apply to our lives. We need each other.

Life was not meant to be lived alone.

Life takes a village.

Sarah Faith

People say it takes a village to raise a child, but our society doesn’t seem to work that way. Don’t get me wrong, we support each other in little ways, but there also seems to be another side. Over my nearly nine years of parenting I’ve noticed a lot of comparison and competition. Under the surface though I see something else entirely. Beneath it all I hear, “I don’t have a village, so neither should you”.

I’ve heard it disguised in conversations more times than I can count, and it makes me sad. I know that I often want and need a village. Maybe you didn’t have one, or maybe at this moment you’re all on your own, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our very best to be a village for each other now.

In Luke 6:31 Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do…

View original post 521 more words

We must speak our pain

One of the hardest things anyone could ever do is share the deepest struggle in our lives. Maybe it is the baggage you carry from childhood or something that happened to us. It could be lies that we believe about ourselves or insecurities over our inadequacies.

We all have a story of pain. Why? Because we are all human. We are all alive. To live is to experience pain. Though at times, I wish it wasn’t, it is.

I believe that the story of pain in our lives must be told. We must speak our pain. If not, we allow the pain to hold us captive. I love what Zora Neale Hurston says,

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”

When we embrace the pain and speak of it in healthy ways, it holds us accountable. Our pain becomes like a wet cloth on a dirty window. As we move the cloth across the surface, the pain attaches to the cloth, slowly revealing the clear glass underneath. As our story escapes our lips, it begins to reveal our actual state. Are we broken, embittered, jaded, cynical, angry, apathetic? As Rob Bell writes,

“Pain has a way of making us more honest.”

He continues,

“The ache reminds us that things aren’t how they’re supposed to be. The ache cuts through all the static, all of the ways we avoid having to actually feel things. The ache reassures us that we’re not the only ones who feel this way.”

Here’s the thing…

We often do feel like we are doing it alone. I believe we all know that in the words of REM, everybody hurts, sometimes. The thing is that though we know, we don’t always believe it. The silence of pain has a way of tricking us into thinking we are alone. As we begin to speak our pain, others hear, and it helps them realize they aren’t alone. There is no need to suffer in silence. Bottling up and hiding away the pain that eats your heart and soul isn’t doing you or anyone else any good. It is not until we begin to speak what has happened or is happening that change can occur.

Society, families, cultures, organizations, governments, circles are all made of broken people acting in broken ways. If the wrong is never voiced, things continue as they once were. If your pain is never told, no one can help you put together the broken pieces. If it is never voiced, someone can’t confirm that what happened to you is wrong or speak words of truth into your life. If you don’t speak your pain, that status quo is allowed to continue.

Richard Rohr writes, “Pain that isn’t processed is passed on.” And that’s the kicker.

When we don’t speak our pain, we give it a life to continue and it continues through our life.

The passing on of pain is what we see in the life of Jacob found in the book of Genesis. The man has some serious baggage in his life through choices his parents have made, and the lies he has chosen to believe. Jacob has a choice to live out his pain or speak it. Jacob lives it out, and it affects his whole family.

Dysfunction doesn’t even begin to explain Jacob’s family. The pain is passed on and never spoken. After all, as Rohr also states, “Pain that isn’t transformed is transmitted.” The silent killer of pain that hides in your heart is there. More than likely, it’s there because someone else is transmitting theirs.

Now you have the choice.

The ball is in your court.

You now have the control.

Do you transmit the pain? Or speak the pain.

Speak, we must. Speak it to friends, family, perpetrators, spouses, children, parents, victims.

If we never speak the pain, we can never learn. If we never learn, we will never grow. If we never grow, we will continue to do what we have always done, not maturing into the people we are created to be.

Most importantly, we must speak our pain to God. The shortest verse in the Scriptures says, “Jesus wept.” Jesus didn’t weep because someone called Him a name or because He stepped on a piece of lego.

Jesus wept because He felt the pain of His friends.

And so He does with yours. God sees you. He hears you. You’re not alone in the fight. God is here, and so are others, but for us to bear the weight with you…

We must speak our pain.

If you like what you read please like and share.

Checkout the resources used in this post