Identity Of The Church Of Christ
The most obvious mark of identity of churches is in their appearance to the world. Though we try not to present an image of looseness, we neither want the world to think that we are rigid deadbeats. That of course is one of our biggest complaints from outsiders. We should portray an open door policy without succumbing to worldly methods. Those things that are proper and good need to be seen by outsiders.
There are some things that just might spark some interest from those in the community or just passing by. These are scriptural and right, but we do not do them.
Advertising via the local paper and the use of billboards would definetly be different for most of us, but only because we have never done such. Why not? Perhaps we do not want to appear like that mega-church across town.
Things to do on the world-wide-web (the Internet). Placing an advertisement on the internet on a community page. Starting a webpage with basic information to any interested parties. Sharing (or linking) a website address with someone through advertising, or in the Sunday bulletin. Many brethren and churches operate websites that provide many teaching tools. Yes, the world has access to it, but it can be tailored to the local needs. With hundreds of millions of people hooked to the internet, we need to share the gospel with them. This is much cheaper than radio programs or TV programs, and we are foolish not to take advantage of this medium.
Are we so afraid that visitors would come with needs, and we fear we may not meet those needs? Many have come in looking for handouts and were handed spiritual material. We explained that the church is a spiritual body and not a social or welfare organization. Yes, we offered to take them to the restaurant next door, or to fill their tank up with gas (and, on a few occasions actually did), but mostly since we did not cut them a check or whip out fifty dollars, they just left and never came back. There are those who are truly in need, and there are those who are just looking for beer or drug money. It is not our place to judge what their motive is, so we should do something, but nothing to help them meet their evil goals. This surprises them, and they have seen Christianity in action, but most of the time, it is not what they are looking for.
Are we afraid that we will expose aliens to something they have never found? The truth. Too often, some of our members rush to visitors to apologize for the truth being spoken by the preacher or someone else. We are so afraid that this will chase them away. But we should not be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). Rather than push these folks out the door with a "y'all come back now, hear", we should be asking about their spiritual needs, for obviously they are looking. We need to give them a reason that their search has ended.
The physical appearance of the building should be neat, even though it is what is going on inside that is truly important. Some brethren think appearance is so important that many congregations have spent thousands of dollars to build newer buildings and much bigger and nicer ones. The sad thing in many instances is that they cease support for preachers in the field so that they can pay for their building or other works suffer from such. This ought not to be, brethren.
Next month, we will look at the identifying marks of our work and worship. Until then, may you be blessed in all that you have and do.
By Carey Scott
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