After the excitement of receiving an expected parcel in my mailbox this week, I was disappointed to discover part of the shipment damaged. Once I contacted the company they immediately let me know they were sending a replacement, and apologised for the situation, as they pride themselves on being “convenient” to their customer base.
How odd, I thought, for a company to define its goal in one word using “convenient.” While the service they provide is convenient, I would have thought a better adjective goal might be address quality or consistency or availability. I wondered if that customer service rep was using a company line, or if his words were merely his own, based on his understanding.
It caused me to consider how we, the church, define and articulate ourselves and our goal. What is it that we want to be most known for, in a way that can be understood by the broader society?
Would “faithful” capture the essence of who we are? Loving? Missional? Worshipful? Children of God? Pray-ers? Servant leaders?
While choosing a description/goal may be difficult enough for the folks involved in the church, the challenge extends further – would that word or phrase mean the same thing to a passer-by as it would to a regular attendee? Would a non-Christian understand what we meant by it? Would our actions outside the building, corporately and individually, continue to work towards that goal? How might an outsider, if asked, choose to describe the church?
I suspect the answers would vary greatly, based on varying experiences of church. Even when Jesus asked his disciples “who do you say that I am” after asking them who others said he was, each time produced a different answer (John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet, the Messiah).
I suspect then our challenge is to consider ourselves – as individuals, as families, as faith communities – and to think how we might describe ourselves, how we might describe who we want to be, how we would want others to describe us. And, of course, to then live our lives in such an authentic and faith-full way that those three answers would align.