Monday, May 11, 2009

"Christian" or not? Christian Childrens Fund to change name and strategy

This morning's news carried the story that the well-known Christian Children's Fund is dropping the word "Christian" from its name in order to bring in more donations.

I have no problem with that at all. If their purpose is to raise as much money as possible to assist children in poverty, and changing their name promotes their purpose, then why not?

But I'm sure many will object to the elimination of the word "Christian" as some sort of sell-out or compromise. Really?

Have you read their "Mission and Ethics" statement? I just did. There is no mention of anything inherently Christian in it. Nothing about Christ; nothing about faith (other than they are inclusive of all faiths); no Scriptures; no mention of making disciples or prayers. They are a humanitarian charity, and probably fairly successful at what they do. But Christian? Not based upon their statement.

So bearing the label "Christian" doesn't necessarily make it so. Perhaps in 1938 with their founding it was different and they've moved in a new direction. I think TCCF is being honest and saying, "We're really not a distinctively Christian organization, so why carry an increasingly polarizing name if it's going to hamper our efforts?".

It's interesting the word "Christian" wasn't coined by the Founder of the movement. He preferred "disciples" or "followers". You won't find "Christian" in the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, either. It was coined by pagans who used it as a slur against Christ's followers. My point: being Christian isn't wrapped up in the labels we use or don't use.

At the same time, if you're going to use the monicker, shouldn't you espouse the purposes of the movement, ie. "making disciples of every nation" and proclaiming the claims of Christ as the only way to God as well as caring for the poor and outcast? Anyone, anything can claim to be whatever.

The sad part of the story is that some who bought into the "Christian" tag and have faithfully given because they assumed that not only were children being fed and clothed, but were being told about Jesus, will now drop their donations. And that's sad for the children who have been cared for by TCCF. Hopefully, for the kids, those who drop out will be replaced by those who will be attracted now to TCCF by their new name and strategy.

But how many of us who claim to be "Christian" show no evidence that we are? Do we live what we say we believe? Is there any discernable differences between our lives, our habits, our priorities and those who admittingly are not Christian? It has to be more than a word on our bumper stickers or on the sign outside our churches.

Names and labels are simply words. Whether or not something or someone is Christian is determined by more than words.

For those Christians" who now feel betrayed somehow, there are distinctively Christian alternatives. I recommend Compassion. But before you give anywhere, you really should check out the organization's mission and purpose.


BrunetteKoala said...

This is such a topical post for me. My colleague (who is maybe in SC visiting her relatives 'over the pond' from today...) and I have had many discussions abuot that as we run a pregnancy crisis charity.

Saying we're Christian has so many connotations to people in the UK when you're talking about pregnancy crisis. We're wanting to meet people, show compassion and give them time to be listened to and think through their options.

But you say Christian, and most people will think 'pro-life' and it's a barrier to them seeking support if they think they're going to be getting a pro-life message slammed down their throats or be judged.

And yet we've had people going back to church while on our abortion recovery programme without us saying anything about our faith quite often.

I don't who first said 'actions speak louder than words' or 'always preach the gospel, sometimes using words'...but I think they were pretty wise.

Barb said...

Check out Lifeline Christian Mission, an amazing organization that's been ministering physically and spiritually to people, esp children, in Haiti and Honduras for 25 years, and now El Salvador and Cuba.

They do a tireless, mighty work, and you can sponsor a child and even go on a work trip to help first-hand.

I know you didn't ask for 'advertisements,' but Lifeline is solidly Christian and worthy of support.