Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Recently I was surfing the web researching different church logos and slogans. I'm not talking about the church signs we often giggle about -- I mean their actual slogan. Now, most churches don't call them "slogans." Perhaps in an effort to sound less commercial, they're referred to as "purpose statements." But they're still slogans.
Some of them aren't well thought-out. One of the first slogans I came across was, "You never knew church could be like this!" That's pretty ambiguous. What if I walk in and everyone's naked? Or they're handling poisonous snakes and think it has something to do with the Holy Spirit? You're right, I wouldn't have read the New Testament and thought of church being like that.
One church's slogan was, "Where children are cherished." As opposed to the church down the street who eats kids? Perhaps this slogan came about in response to a certain string of misbehaviors by other churches. Another one that perplexed me was, "A church for the left out and right-brained." My first impression was that their target demographic was left-handed people.
One of the more commonly used slogans I've found is "Don't go to church, be the church!" A church will either use this as their purpose statement or apply it for a single Sunday work-day where members skip church to serve in the community. That's a commendable idea. In fact, our church has done something like it. But there's a better way to promote this concept. The slogan itself hasn't been thought through.
"Don't go to church, be the church!" inadvertently implies two things. First of all, it suggests that people shouldn't go to church. "Don't go to church!" Well, alright. This church just told me not to go to church, so I guess I won't. If a marketing student were to present this slogan as part of a strategy for attendance growth, they'd fail their assignment.
The second inference is a bit more serious. "Don't go to church, be the church!" suggests that going to church isn't being the church. Not only is this doctrinally out-of-whack, it's dumb.
Community service is not somehow superior to a church service. We should also take issue with the idea that church worship needs to be "cancelled" in order to go out into the community and "be the church." A church should be doing both -- gathering as a body of believers and reaching out to the community, in fact to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), meeting the needs of others and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The authors of the New Testament wrote to the church. When the Apostle Paul rebuked a church for their behavior like he did the church in Corinth, or for following false doctrine like he did the church in Galatia, or even when he encouraged the faithfulness of the churches in Ephesus and Philippi, he's not just talking to the church leaders and teachers. He was addressing the entire body.
"For [Christ] is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility," we read in Ephesians; "that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."
That verse is saying through Christ, we are reconciled to God not just as individuals but as a body. So we're not only reconciled to God; we're reconciled to everyone else who is reconciled to God. Paul goes on to describe us as "fellow citizens," "members of God's household," and "joined together" with Christ into one "holy temple."
In short, we're supposed to worship as a body. Going to church is being the church! We should not ever think that the regular gathering of believers is by its nature dysfunctional.
It's okay for a church to have a slogan, but being mindful of sound doctrine still applies. Don't be witty just for the sake of being witty. If a church's catchphrases are going to be as silly as, "Don't go to church, be the church," one would have to wonder if they're as careless with their doctrine as they have been with their slogan (sorry, their "purpose statement").
Does your church have a slogan or mission statement? Is it something you find inspiring or something kind of cliche? What would you write for a mission statement if you were designing one for your church?