In the first three months of arriving at Ambassadors of Christ Ministries, I began to wonder if we, as a church, really understood what it meant to be a part of this particular body of believers. We understood that God was doing something in our church. What I felt was that we were not always taking what we were doing as a corporate body and filtering it down to ourselves in our personal lives. As time passed, as I observed, and as I interacted with our membership my conviction increased. But, if there I was going to help our members understand how to be Ambassadors, I had to understand and believe it for myself.
Every church has, or should try to develop, an identity of who they are. Why do we exist as an intentional gathering of Christ followers? Without an identity, we will not be able to make efficient progress toward achieving the purpose God has called us to as a church. As I continued to listen, interact, and consider what we were trying to do as a church, I started talking about finding “The Ambassador Way.”
Over the course of those initial months, and now years, this idea has become more refined and robust. The Ambassador Way has become the way we evaluate whether what we are doing fits into the overall vision and philosophy of ministry that God is calling us to live out. It is the schema that helps us, as leaders and as a corporate body, to identify what we should be doing and how we are going to do it. If what we dream up doesn’t fit into The Ambassador Way, it will not be done (or it will be modified to fit into our way of doing things).
Clearly Communicate Your Church’s Identity
The problem with having an identity for your ministry or church is that everyone may not understand it or even know it. The second one is easy to fix but, if people do not understand it, then we are leaders have to work harder to make it plain. The members of our churches cannot grow into the identity if they do not know how to take that identity and live it out in their lives.
We all bring our own stories and baggage with us. We all have our reasons for coming and staying; for joining and serving in the churches we attend. However, the dilemma arises when we do not make an intentional effort to become the people that our churches are calling us to become.
Now, don’t miss understand what I am saying. We are all striving to become more like Christ. That is (or should be) a given. What we fail to see is at times is that in the same way that there are a variety of individuals in our congregations, people with a diversity of gifts, we also need a diversity of churches that have a unique calling and purpose of fulfill in the communities that God has placed them. Every church cannot be concerned with foreign missions to the same degree as every other. Every church cannot engage in evangelistic efforts with the same level of effectiveness as every other. All churches will do more or all of these things, but not with the same level of effectiveness or efficiency. In other words, an isolationist attitude within the various churches of any community will create the mentality that each church should have “every ministry” within its walls. This leads to unhealthy practices with the each local body and, by extension, the whole Body of Christ.
Consistently Promote Your Church’s Identity
The remedy to this problem is realizing that what God has called us to do, and by us I mean the local body wer are a part of, is determined in large part by (1) the vision that has been given to the leader(s) of that local body, and (2) the context in which that church serves. Inner city churches have a different kind of ministry than rural churches. As well they should. Therefore, it is vital for the leaders of the church to promote and explain this vision and ministry identity to those who join.
When we do not see this we will grow frustrated with God, but more damaging (as crazy as that might sound) we will become frustrated and bitter towards those within our own church who do not “understand” what we are about.
When the leaders of a church have one idea of what they are trying to do and the members have another (or no idea at all) the potential for frustration increases dramatically. That is why making sure that the church’s identity is being clearly communicated and consistently communicated is so vital.
You can promote your church’s identity in a number of ways. The key is to make sure that you are doing it!