What's in a name?

We live and work around many who are skeptical about church. I contend their skepticism is not centered on Jesus Himself but on the institution, the church, representing Him. However, Jesus loves His church so much that He left glory and took on flesh, lived, died, rose, and ascended for her, and He will one day come back and live with her forever. That is the good news. Yet, it is news that many simply cannot hear because of all the junk His church on earth has done.

Our responsibility as the church is challenging to say the least. Jesus tells us, “Go!” and make followers willing to give up everything in response to His sacrificial, everlasting love. Yet the deep skepticism from those who have experienced everything except love from His church stands in the way. To make matters worse, we (the church) have divided and taken names to identify our peculiar beliefs about Him--beliefs regarding Him, His Word, what He has called us to do, and even how we are to do what He has called us to do. Names like Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, COGIC, etc. now serve as identifiers for the common person to have some idea of what they will get when they walk in the door of a church. However, identifiers can easily become identities. We begin to believe that what once served to distinguish differences now serves to exalt one brand over another. Sometimes we actually see ourselves as solely Baptists, Presbyterians, etc., and not as the church, the very body of Christ joined inseparably together by His death and resurrection. The result is a product that contradicts the very message it desires for others to hear. A self-righteous church denies the very heart of the gospel that is love produced through the humility of repentance. A self righteous church will not and should not be heard.

Jesus’ coming in the flesh, the incarnation, teaches us the incredible importance of method. How we go to the world with the message is as important as the message itself. We communicate by how we go as much as what we say when we go. Jesus didn’t just write the gospel in the sky, He was the gospel in the flesh. Therefore, the church must constantly be concerned with how we are going to the world.  We want others to reject or accept God Himself as opposed to rejecting or accepting an expression of Him. Therefore, it is our responsibility to remove every potential man made barrier so that others might get a clear hearing of Jesus. We believe this in line with I Corinthians 9:19-23 where Paul concludes, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this all for the sake of the gospel, that I might share in its blessings.

It is because of this simple and very important desire that we have changed our name from Downtown Presbyterian Church to simply Downtown Church. We are not changing who we are as a body nor are we changing what we believe. We are simply changing how we present ourselves to those God has called us to love and speak the glorious riches of His gospel unto. It is our sincere desire that Jesus honors this change and gives us a broader hearing in light of it. We sincerely want all of Memphis to know, love, follow and worship Jesus.

May God bless us as we move forward in humility, love and faith!