Is your church's brand an idol?

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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.

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Remember, Kanye’s Still on Milk

Kanye says that he has encountered God. He has a new album called, “Jesus is King” (which is pretty solid). When you listen to his interviews, he proclaims that God saved his life, God is using him, and he is blessed to be a blessing.

Fantastic.

Then some comments make you say, “he doesn’t quite get it all yet.”

Guess what. THAT’S OKAY.

Hebrews 5 talks about followers of Jesus who are on milk and others are on solid food. Kanye is on the milk. He is new to walking in the steps of Jesus. It’s still fresh. However, from all appearances, Kanye wants to eat solid food, to use Paul’s terms.

You are not born an adult. YIKES! Every mother said AMEN to that one.

We grow and develop. We have different paths where God adds and subtracts from our lives. We make mistakes.

Just because Kanye is already famous, it doesn’t mean he is any different. God is shining the light on a man whose life appears to be changing before our eyes and using the gifts given to him by Almighty God, to bless the world and draw people closer to Christ.

Said I’m finna do a gospel album
What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?
They’ll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me
They’ll be the first one to judge me
Feelin’ like nobody love me
Told people God was my mission
What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?
They’ll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me

Hands on

While a healthy dose of skepticism is fine, we should be supporting this man. In one of the groups on Facebook that I’m in, someone shared a note from a mother. It said, “My son came to church today because of Kanye.”

God changes lives. It is not just a miraculous change when it happens to your parents, child, co-worker, friend. It is also miraculous when it happens to Kanye and Beiber. Just because they are in the public sphere, just because their mess-ups are blasted across the front of the tabloids doesn’t mean their faith is disingenuous. How would you like your baggage strewn across headlines.

TOM LOOKS AT PORN

SANDRA IS A GOSSIP AND A LIAR.

We all make mistakes. However, we need each other. The church has not been called to be agents of shame, but one’s of hope and liberty. John 3:17 states that Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it. If Jesus isn’t condemning but drawing in, shouldn’t we.

Yet we can become content to hold onto our self-righteousness—only allowing those we deem acceptable in. Years ago West rapped what would become his testimony,

To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks for them)
To the victims of welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah
(Jesus walks for them)
Now hear ye hear ye want to see Thee more clearly
I know He hear me when my feet get weary
Cause we’re the almost nearly extinct
We rappers are role models we rap we don’t think
I ain’t here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I’m just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that’s the way I need Jesus

Jesus Walk

And don’t we all! We need Jesus.

Lord, fix our judgemental spirit. Help us to do as you instructed us, Love one another.

Church, let’s not tear down. Let’s not shoot our own. Let’s be a part of the journey. Not as a din in the background. Not as a people who elevate a man instead of Christ. Let’s see that we must journey together—that we, the church, including Kanye, are the church, and we must be the voice of faith, hope, and love.

Kanye’s still on milk. Let’s not poison the bottle, but let’s help him move on to solid food.

Checkout the resources used in this post