A Question of Identity

Do you know who you are? you ask that question of most people and they will start to tell you about their work. That is how many of us define ourselves. But our job is not who we are, it’s not our identity.

Our identity is about the core of our being, the building blocks of our existence. Sometimes a calling will take us into a role that expresses who we are, for many ministers there is probably a close correlation between what they do and who they are. But what about the rest of us? How are we to define our identity?

An example. My late father was a painter and decorator, but that was not his identity. He was a fun loving, adventurous man driven by a desire to make a difference and always ready to stand against injustice when he saw it. (He could also be argumentative and pig headed and creative) That was the core of him that played into everything he did as a father, as a husband, as a brother, as a painter and decorator.

Who you are, your identity, is about your core beliefs and values. it’s the things that make you tick. It is something to think about.

Something else to think about is your identity as a congregation. Vision days and vision nights are incredibly popular among churches as they seek to figure out how they can further the Kingdom and share the Gospel and fulfil the Great Commission. It is very hard to figure out what you should do if you don’t know who you are. If the sorts of things churches do is any indication, very few have a real grasp on their identity. It is vitally important to understand the nature of your identity. In Ephesians 4:11 we learn something of the callings that were put upon us.

“And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers”.

My experience suggests that most churches have a tendency towards one area. It might be pastoral, caring for and serving their community. It might be teaching, delving deeper into the word and building discipleship. It might be evangelism, a desire to be out in the community sharing the gospel. It may be apostolic, living missionaly in a specific area, embedding yourself there and living out life as an example of a follower of Jesus. It may be prophetic, living to share words and images from God, to speak directly into peoples lives.

If you know what area your church is called to you can, more successfully, figure out your place in building the Kingdom. Knowing who you are enables to to know what you can do, to play to your strengths. It saves time and money because you won’t try and do things you aren’t designed for.

I was a part of a church many years ago that desperately wanted to connect with families and young children. It did light parties and Messy Church and parent and toddler groups and all it did was service a handful of Christian families. It had no connections to schools or local families to reach out to. It’s vision was doomed because it didn’t know who it was. Some time later it became more aware of it’s own identity. It was a teaching church, it built on discipleship and took people further into the Word of God. It revived a number of burned out Christians. A few years later it moved premises and became less a teaching church and it’s identity became about the local community. This doesn’t have to be an exclusive focus but the church in question is now maybe 70% pastoral and 30% teaching by those descriptions.

So who are you as a church? What are your core values? What did God call you to be? Figure that out and you can make a difference with your vision.



ps. If this has struck a chord with you and you want help figuring it out feel free to contact me.

Author: missionerpete

i an the Pioneer Connexion Missioner for The Meon Valley Methodist Circuit. Also husband, father and artist though not always in that order.

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