Identity Crisis in the Church part I
In many places, the influence of The Church of Christ is being, or has been eroded away to nothing. Why? Has the power of the Gospel diminished? A primary reason is that Elders and members are allowing our present culture to determine the limits or extents of their conviction and militancy. In some cases the Lord’s people want to be “politically correct” or “culturally disarming.” Therefore, the true identity of the Church is in crisis. The distinct New Testament qualities of the primitive church that Jesus said He would build, and subsequently did through His inspired Apostles is fading fast because Christians simply won’t stand up and be counted. In no way should Christians be intentionally antagonistic or pick a fight for the sake of a fight. (many of our brethren excel at this) But when the time comes to be distinctive and remain distinctive for truth’s sake, we fail. If we begin this digression under the present social conditions, what will be our outcome when, (not if) but when, real and unimaginable pressure is exerted on the church? The sad truth is, many congregations are trying to look as close to denominational churches as they can; always at the expense of New Testament Church identity.
A present trend among Churches of Christ is to change the name or marquee that identifies who they are. Why? The “so called” House Church movement has been advancing this thinking for some time. This was one of the first steps they used to depart from what they call “traditional Church of Christ” practices. The movement has now become an apostasy leading many away from sound scriptural moorings.
Let me first say, that I do not believe that the name “Church of Christ” is the only scriptural banner Christians may identify themselves by. But my question is, why would a local Church of Christ change its name? In many cases the answer given is, “because of prejudices against The Church of Christ,” To that I say, “so what?” Ironically they still claim to be a “church” and will admit they are “of Christ,” but no longer want to be identified as a “Church of Christ.” I still ask, why? The word “stigma” has also been used by Christians to describe what they believe outsiders think about “The Church of Christ.” They hope changing the church sign will help overcome this. Most of the so called “stigmas” and “prejudices” I’ve heard of are ironically enough results of standing for the TRUTH!
If the Church of Christ has indeed generated prejudices, (and it has) it’s for one of two reasons: 1. Ungodly members who blacken the reputation of the Church. 2. A uncompromising, scriptural stand for what God says; both morally and spiritually. I doubt that reason #1 is used as a defense for changing the name of the congregation where Christians meet. If then, #2 is the reason, so what? If the leadership and members of a local church take the scriptural stand Jesus demands regarding the Gospel, the church, and moral virtues, the same prejudices and stigmas will remain, no matter what you call yourself. Therefore, why change the name of the local church? Denominational folks learned fast that by casting off the moral and spiritual law of God, everyone is happy and there are no prejudices; and after all, they say, “…there’s really nothing in a name.” Shall we bow to the god of this world by caving in to cultural and religious pressures? God forbid! Think about it.