Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Labels are a shortcut. Instead of saying, "Those smaller, practical Japanese cars that aren't particularly stylish, but run pretty well and get pretty decent gas mileage" we just say "Honda." Because people like to be efficient with their time, they will tend to take these shortcuts if they are provided, or else make them up on their own. Have you noticed that Federal Express just has "FedEx" on their trucks? This is because people were using "FedEx" as shorthand, and the company decided it was better to just "go with it" than fight it. We see this same thing happening with "CTK" instead of the longer "Christ the King Community Church."

Labels can be an efficient time-saver, but not necessarily an effective way of relating to people and organizations. Sometimes labels foster laziness. Instead of taking the time to get to know someone, you just stereotype them as a "conservative" or a "fundamentalist" or a "charismatic." There. Now that we have a label on them, we know everything we need to know about them, right? Wrong.

In some ways Christ the King has benefitted by being like the can on the shelf that doesn't have a label on it. You have to open it up to see what's inside. Steve Mason, the pastor of the first Christ the King Church once wrote, "I am frequently asked, 'What kind~ of church is this?' Sometimes visiting people are unsure how to categorize us. Are we Pentecostals? No. Are we Charismatics? Not exactly. Are we Evangelicals? In doctrine, yes, but we are open to the ministries associated with the gifts of the Spirit, though not in the emotionally based manner usually associated with Pentecostalism."

If all this sounds confusing, it's because the label game breaks down after awhile. There is no one label that accurately describes what is going on in the CTK story. We are "theological mutts."

When it comes to the authority of the Bible, we are Baptists. When it comes to the methodology of small groups, we are Methodists. When it comes to plurality of leadership, we are Presbyterians. When it comes to reliance on the Holy Spirit, we are Charismatics. When it comes to salvation by grace, we are Lutherans. When it comes to passionate corporate worship, we are Vineyard. When it comes to authenticity in relationships, we are Calvary Chapel.

Who are we? Check two boxes. "All of the above" and "None of the above." Labels just don't work that well for us. Sorry. I guess you'll just have to get to know us.


An analogy that comes to mind is the piece of luggage that has been stamped from all over the world. If you were to ask the question, "Where has that luggage been?" there is no one answer to that question. There are many answers to the question. It's not that there are many pieces of luggage. There is only one piece of luggage. But many labels have been applied.

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