Is your church’s brand an idol?

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

What if that politician was made in the image of God

It is election season in Canada, where I live. The signs are out on the lawns and along the road. The politicians are having their debates and going door to door. The pundits on the news and in articles are voicing pleasure and concern–who won or who lost the debate, or which candidate dirty past faux pás is the most damaging.

The big telltale sign that there is an election happening…

Facebook!

It is that time when everyone is sharing the articles and expressing their opinion toward each candidate.

What shocks me is the verbiage I hear and see Christians use when speaking of someone. I understand the politics can be dirty. I get that the decisions our leaders make, affect our lives in very real ways.

I hear words like,

Idiot
Pig
Stupid
Worthless

People expressing sentiments about wishing said politicians had never been born.

When I reflect on Scripture and words of Jesus, what I see is that these sentiments toward politicians are un-Chrisitan. I feel quite safe saying, anti-Jesus.

Genesis 1 states that we were all created in the image of God.
Psalm 139 says that we were created in our mother’s womb by God.
Jeremiah 29 declares that God has plans for a hope and a future.

The basic premise is that we need to see every person as a child of God who He loves–who God creates in His image.

When you call them a “moron” or “garbage,” you are calling God’s image-bearer, His child, whom He loves, names.

It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their policies. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be critical of campaign promises, track records, and their integrity. We must understand, however, that this does not change the value of a person.

Politicians are people too.

They have parents. Siblings. Children. Spouses. Friends.

Most importantly, they have a God who loves them.

When we look at Jesus’ life, he had some very harsh words toward leaders. We do not see him calling names. Instead, we see word pictures calling out their integrity.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!

Mt 23:13.

You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

Mt 23:15

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Mt 23:24

You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Mt 23:25–26

You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

Mt 23:27

These are some harsh words! They address action and character, not a person’s value. Jesus loves them and wants to see them whole.

Jesus’ call to us is to be agents of His love. The Apostle points out in Romans 5:6 that when we were still totally opposed to who God is, He came and gave His life for us. As we have received grace, we are to extend that same grace forward.

After all, Jesus stated,

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Mt 5:43–45

Next time you see one of those posts, brother and sister in Christ, I encourage you to pray for that politician. Pray God’s favour on them. Pray that God blesses them and reveals Himself to them in wonderfully new ways. Be willing to extend grace.

Let’s be people of love.