09 Feb '12
It's about the Bride not the brand
I am a senior vice president of the EFCA - a brand of the church. Having said that, one of my core convictions is that while brands can be helpful in the spread of the Gospel, at the end of the day my concern should not be about the brand but about the Bride. Jesus died for the Bride, not my brand (hard as that is for some to believe, given our often parochial attitudes toward those of another brand).
Most of us like the brand we worship in, which is why we are there. I like the broad evangelical parameters of the EFCA and the freedom I have as the leader of ReachGlobal, its international mission. But, my highest allegiance is always to the Bride of Christ, His church, of which mine is but one small expression.
When we value the Bride over the brand we become open to working with other churches to bring the Gospel in a relevant way to our communities, something none of us can do ourselves. Moving from competition to cooperation in the spread of the Gospel is an expression of mature leadership that places what is close to God's heart (that people respond to His good news) above our parochial interests.
There is nothing wrong with brands. But think of the power of the unity of the church when we choose to work with other like minded evangelical churches and denominations to reach our communities and the unreached globally. It is a visible expression of the unity that Jesus prays for in John 17, by which the world knows that we are in Him and He in us. There will be no Presbyterians or Baptists or Free Church folks in heaven (really!). Just worshipers of Jesus Christ. I suspect we will quickly realize that those things that once divided us were insignificant compared to what should have united us - the Gospel and person of Jesus Christ.
It is for this reason that ReachGlobal does not plant EFC churches internationally but works to plant healthy, reproducing, interdependent, indigenous and self supporting churches. As long as Jesus is at the center in a biblical way, we will work with a wide variety of movements to bring the Gospel to places where it has not yet penetrated. We then link the various movements we work with together so that they too are working alongside one another in cooperation rather than competition. There is enough division among denominations for us to further contribute to disunity rather than unity.
I am heartened by expressions of Bride over brand in this country when churches from across denominational lines band together to bring the gospel to their community. They are demonstrating Christ's heart and His interests over their own.
Think about your ministry. Are you more about the brand or the Bride? For me, the Bride trumps the brand every time.