Designation or Destination?

 

Lighthouse

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?

 

 

 

 

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.