Recently our family enjoyed gathering with our extended clan for a celebratory birthday party. In attendance was my nephew, a tall, handsome, well groomed and impeccably dressed young man. I made note of the shirt he was wearing, with a very unique pull-up collar that wrapped around the entirety of his neckline. We ended up bantering back and forth, comparing and contrasting the shirts we were wearing, noting the designer labels in our respective back collars…he was wearing a rather new, hip brand, and I of course (being the old guy) was wearing a more common brand.
Was the brand name label the most important issue between my nephew and me, or was it perhaps even more important that we were actually wearing a shirt?! I would suggest the latter…it’s far more significant that we showed up for the party wearing a shirt at all than the shirt’s designer label, style, color, or size.
This humorous exchange with my nephew reminded me of the presentation I made to a group of church leaders this week. I asked them, what matters most to you, the designation (denomination/network) of your church or the destination your church is heading toward? So often we banter back and forth about the “designer label” of our church rather than focusing on the importance of simply being the Church. Our “designer label” may be the type of church we’re pursuing…or the denomination we’re aligned with…or the personalities we’re listening to and following the most…or the ethnicity we represent…or…?
The destination we’re all called to pursue is Christ and Christlikeness. To waver from wearing that “shirt” and focus instead on comparing and contrasting labels can in fact keep us from what matters most. However, we’ve been doing exactly that for centuries now…to the point that we’ve got over 40,000 different designer labels in the Church today. I’m befuddled at the need for so many designations (also known as denominations or networks) today. It seems like we wear one designer for a time, and when a new designer enters the scene we are quick to make a change…and as a result are tossed and turned by the latest wind or fad in the wardrobe options of Christianity, or until there’s a wardrobe “malfunction” by one of our leaders.
The Church is called to be the Church no matter what. Christ is the focus of our worship, relationships, and witness. To be adorned with anything else but Christ is a limitation, a faux faith, or worse yet, no church at all. What is your choice today…focus on wearing your manmade designer’s designation (label) or on your Father’s divine destination in, for and with Christ?