Without a doubt the church has fallen victim to identity theft.
The false perception that a church is a building is prevalent to both Christians and non-Christians. Chuck Colson calls it the “Edifice Complex,” the idea that a church is measured by the size and impressiveness of its facilities and structures. The problem of seeing “The Church” as a building is merely a symptom. The real problem is a genuine identity crisis.
In the seventy-seven references to “church” in the Bible, we find an empowered people of God, left as ambassadors to the world and to the family and to one another. In the days following Pentecost, the unity that exemplified the newly formed body of believers would cause many present day churches shame in comparison.
Our lack of identity produces a confusing behavior. While some 90 percent of Americans believe “in God,” only 6 out of 10 attend worship services. George Gallup has estimated only 6 to 10% of Americans have “highly committed spiritual behavior.”
Gallup compared the churched and unchurched in their behavior — people who call in sick (and are not); people who lie on resumes; people who cheat on taxes. Gallup concluded “little difference in the ethical views and behavior of the churched and unchurched.”
Gallup also noted little difference in charitable giving. Only 25% of evangelicals tithe. Those who make between $50,000 and $70,000 per year give an average of 1.5% to charity of any type.
This same group spent 12% on leisure pursuits.
In a recent Atlanta Journal poll, 52% of the respondents said that winning others to Christ was relatively unimportant.
The Church must remember its identity and mission in order to keep its passion.
This Sunday, Cathedral will reclaim its identity. Not a church, but the Church. Just the way Christ intended it!