Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What's your church's tagline?

What’s your church's tagline? Reflecting marketing trends in contemporary culture, many churches use a tagline to express something either about their identity, vision, or priorities. There are even helpful guides available to assist in creating such taglines.  Here's a few examples, older and newer, of such church branding efforts:

> Where Everybody is Somebody and Christ is Lord
> Exalting the Savior, Equipping the Saints, & Evangelizing the Sinner
> Where the Difference is Worth the Distance
> The End of Your Search for a Friendly Church
> Caring, Sharing, & Connecting
> Large Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Know You

A well-written, pithy tagline can sometimes help unify your church's focus as well as connect with your community.  However, we need to be honest.  These taglines are often more prescriptive than descriptive.  What if, suddenly, all our taglines became brutally honest in their descriptive accuracy? Would we see:

Where Everybody is Somebody and Christ is Lord
Where Some People are Important and Convenience is King

Exalting the Savior, Equipping the Saints, & Evangelizing the Sinner
Exalting our Egos, Entertaining the Crowd, & Exaggerating the Stats

Where the Difference is Worth the Distance
Where There's Little Difference Except the Distance

The End of Your Search for a Friendly Church
The End of Your Search for a Dysfunctional Church (and beginning for a healthy one)

Caring, Sharing, & Connecting
Carrying (grudges), Sharing (gossip), & Connecting (for business opportunities)

Large Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Know You
Large Enough to be Complacent, Small Enough to Need You

Please don’t misunderstand me; I like and use taglines. I’ve even used a couple of the above examples in the past.  However, the distance between the envisioned and the actual has caused me to move away from the indicative and embrace the imperative.  For example: “Be Different. Make a Difference.”  This reflects our vision for the church and encourages us to fulfill that vision.

But, I want to interject another thought here.  Is there an unwritten tagline every New Testament church ought to pursue?  I believe there is:  "A One-Another Church.”  If such were descriptively true, then we wouldn't even need to use it as a published tagline, because it would be read through a living display of the Gospel. 

But what are the one-anothers and what relevance do they hold for the contemporary church?  Glad you asked.  In a future post, we’ll discuss exactly that, and I’ll share the results of my in-depth study.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sword & Trowel Blog Returns

Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-92) may be the originator of The Sword & Trowel as a Christian publication, but the imagery itself recalls the challenges Nehemiah faced in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (445 BC). Under discouraging threat and agitation from their enemies, the post-exilic Jews equipped themselves with swords in one hand while using the other to help rebuild the wall (Nehemiah 4:17-18). Spurgeon used that image to remind us that defending and building must often go together.

After five years of silence, the Sword & Trowel Blog returns as

I remember the burden I felt back when we first launched in the early part of the new millennium. There was a growing sense of responsibility to engage the world around me, speaking truth to the wider church and culture. The blogosphere was a wildly expanding force for information, influence, and opinion. And while I never equated my own voice with that of the perceived heavy-hitters, I knew that truth was truth, regardless of the voice which speaks it.

Sword & Trowel was deleted back in 2010 and I chose to disengage from the virtual world. The blogosphere had become acidic and even toxic in some corners. I didn't want to sing with such a cacophony of voices all around; it was no longer good for my soul.

But now, Bruce and I are ready to return, though our reasons for doing so have matured. We still hope to speak truth to the church and culture, but this time we want to sing it. Singing is good for the soul.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
(Colossians 3:16)

Don't worry or cover your ears! I'm being metaphorical. We won't literally sing here at Sword & Trowel, but we do want our souls to sing in whatever we do. And that's exactly how the passage referenced above continues: Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17).

We have come to recognize the value of engaging our minds, fingers, and voices for the cause of Truth. Thinking, writing, and expressing are like spiritual disciplines for the Christian life. If we want to be firing on all cylinders in life and ministry then we dare not neglect them. Regardless of how loudly or distantly our voices ring, there is value simply in singing ... even if only for ourselves.  Though we certainly aim to benefit others.

There are a host of excellent blogs and ministries online. Our voices do not compete with them, but rather, simply join the chorus. For those who read Sword & Trowel, we hope our voices provide both protection (sword) and edification (trowel) in God's truth. We hope our efforts help your soul to sing in the symphony of God's grace.