The use of categories often runs the risk of depersonalizing the very people pitched in thee various categories used. Leonard Sweet offers how one church has handled the traditional penchant to use labels to describe those outside the Church, people of God, community of faith.
“Warehouse 242 is a faith community in Charlotte, North Carolina. Its mission is to reach those who live and move and have false being, those the church usually names “lost,” “unsaved,” “pre-Christian,” “seeker,” “unbeliever,” “unchurched,” “worldly,” “unconverted” – or more blatantly, “pagan,” “heathen,” “infidel.” Except Warehouse 242, being aware of the way power works through language and taking a cue from the recovery movement, prefers to call those for whom their church exists the “normal” people.” (Jesus Drives Me Crazy, p.13)
Sweet goes on,
“There is a world and wisdom according to normal. There is a world and wisdom according to Jesus. The world according to normal is the world that is. The wisdom of the world is “normal.” People who don’t know who Jesus is are the “normal people.” People for whom God is, to quote Edwin Muir, “three angry letter is a book” are the normal people.
Jesus’ followers are the abnormal ones.” (Jesus Drives Me Crazy, p.13)
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Labels also exists within the Church community.
Some of my favorites: Calvinist, Charasmatic, Pre-Millenialist, Post Millianist, Covent Theologist, Dispensationalist, Moderate, Liberal, Conservative, Fundamentalist, Armenian, Orthodox, Complementarian, Egalitarian…
When we label someone, we then allow that label to color how we view them or value their opinion. Often we mislabel people because of what they may say about this issue or that issue.
In truth the Body of Christ includes people who may very well fit into those categories. Do we choose to not associate with those who don’t agree with us lockstep? Or do we seek common ground and work with each other for the greater good, which is the sharing of the Good News.
If logic used by SBC to not fund the BWA is correct, then we would be in error when we worship with those of other denominations within our local ministrerial alliance.
It has also been apparent to me that once someone goes from the lost category to the saved category that some churches then forget them. The goal is to get people saved. What about after? They are OK now? Will that one time profession be enough if no transformation occurs and no obedience thereafter is experienced? How do we encourage continued fellowship, so that transformation can occur?
For most people, labels are either a source of pride or a source of shame. The specific intention of a label is to either sort or divide people. That’s what they’re designed to do. Is there any way to avoid labels all together? How can one accurately describe in the English language without labeling? Just tossing around some thoughts.