Friday, May 25, 2007

What’s in a Name?

Our Leadership Council (deacons and pastors) have been kicking around the idea of a name change for our church. The circumstances of founding our church were so unique that we didn’t really give the name a great deal of thought at first. Since we were so blessed to have so much in place for us, due to our partnership with Cedar Park, we were able to go from idea to implementation in just a few short months. Who had time to think about a name?

Now in our sixth year of existence, The Chapel at Cedar Park wonders if the name of our church should be a bit more than the name of the building in which we worship.

Every so often you hear about parents who wait a while to name their children. The rationale is simple: they want to get to know the kid before affixing a moniker. In like manner, our church has grown up and we have gotten to know it… maybe it is time for a better name.

As we’ve been thinking about characteristics that might be reflected in a name, several things have come up in conversation: warm hospitality and fellowship; appreciation for tradition; reverence for scripture and value for biblical, even exegetical, preaching; and commitment to God’s mission to save people in our families, communities, and around the world.

We’ve even talked about recent trends that produce clever names for churches… names that sometimes don’t even reveal that the place/organization is even a church at all. The motive seems to be a good one; this kind of approach indicates a bias for outreach. It is a good approach, but it doesn’t seem to suit us. Those who seem to find our church most helpful are specifically looking for a church.

The name that the Leadership Council keeps coming back to is Redeemer’s Fellowship. One of our deacons brought a verse of Scripture that provides a good basis for this name: God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9). He also referenced 1 John 1:3 and Hebrews 10:24,25.

We like the word Fellowship as it reflects our commitment of care to one another. Our church has distinguished itself as a warm, inviting, community in which people genuinely love each other… and even really like each other. It expresses our understanding that we are called to serve together, that God calls us to be members of one body; more than merely a gathering of persons, we are a people.

Redeemer’s seems to suit us well too. It could be that the most important part of that word is the apostrophe, that little punctuation mark that indicates that our fellowship is in the possession of our Savior. We understand that we are His… that any right standing that we have before God and creation is only because we have been redeemed by Jesus.

So these days we’re looking for feedback. Nobody feels that change is absolutely necessary; The Chapel at Cedar Park has served us well. But it could be time for change. Do you like that idea? Do you have a better idea? Should we just keep The Chapel as is? Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Foot Washer

It would, of course, be a great mistake to think of Jesus as primarily a foot washer. Of course he did, at least on one occasion, wash feet (John 13:1-17)… but we don’t label him by this humble act of service.

I wonder if it would also be a great mistake to assume that Jesus only washed feet that one time to make a point. If one were to ask Bible scholars “how many times did Jesus wash feet?” I would imagine that most would simply answer “once.” But I wonder… is that really the Spirit of Jesus? Just washing feet once to make a point?

When I think of Christians, especially those who I understand to be Christian leaders, in regard to this quality of humble service, there are a couple of categories.
  1. Those who occasionally perform acts of humility for effect, and
  2. Those who consistently perform acts of service out of their humble nature.

I’ve always seen more Christlikeness from those in camp #2.

There are those who give lip service to their willingness to help with simple things. These are the types who say “oh, you’re finished? I was intending to help.” Or “I’d try to help but I’m afraid that I’d get in the way.” You know these types… the ones who arrive late, linger at the refreshment table, and leave early.

Then there are those that fly under the radar and just get the work done. No fanfare. Little recognition.

I think I am most impressed when the humble service requires great skill. My pal Merlin is a great example. He serves as one of the VPs at the University with me. As an example, while the rest of us VPs were participating in the pomp and pageantry of commencement just a few days ago (see Merlin ran around with cameras in hand. He is an excellent photographer and his work with a camera is famous in some circles… but he is so much more than merely a photographer. Other VPs of Marketing eschew seemingly menial tasks like photography, especially when there are more dignified things to do (like wear a girly robe and funny hat)… but not Merlin. For him, photography is a bit of foot washing. Highly skilled foot washing.

Here’s the dilemma that I’ve pondered on and off for years… do these acts of foot washing discredit our roles? In Merlin’s case I watch it happen over and over again; even though his business card says Vice President, he is often referred to (and even worse treated as) the photographer. I’ve experienced it too… since I’m willing to do various technical or mechanical things (Web pages, PowerPoint, ghost writing, etc.) I’ve sometimes been labeled as more of a manager or technician than a leader.

So… back to Jesus. I don’t think He was a foot washer merely for effect. I tend to think that Jesus served the best He could on a moment by moment, situation by situation basis. So if that meant that feet needed washing, He washed feet… or healed blind eyes… or fed hungry mouths… or hungry souls for that matter.

If that is the case, then our responses ought to include:

  1. When serving, serve not merely for effect, but really serve, even if it requires finely honed skill, and
  2. When we observing someone serving, let’s resist the ease of stereotyping the one serving. Let’s appreciate the humble act of service without mindlessly sticking someone into a menial category.

Just because Jesus washed feet (I’m guessing on several occasions) doesn’t make him a foot washer.