I no longer consider myself a Christian. The new identity I have chosen for myself is, more simply and humbly, “a Jesus follower.” Cringe, cry, or laugh at me for posting this, but please do hear me out. I want to tell you why I no longer answer to the moniker of Christian.
What the business world has understood much better than the church is the huge issue of branding for sake of product placement and marketing. Best practices in the field of business marketing have typically included brand analysis and, in many cases, rebranding in response to declining numbers. While some in the church may “get it” in relation to the Christian brand we produce under and market for, I suspect many do not.
If you have any doubts about how the Christian brand now fares in many western markets, consider the American market as researched by the Public Religious Research Institute (http://publicreligion.org/). Among other things, check out their American Values Atlas. I have my own guesses as to why the Christian brand is losing market share in America, with the so-called “nones” or unaffiliated or unbelievers gaining shares most rapidly among the younger demographic especially. I won’t go into them here, except to comment later if you venture your own guesses in response to this blog and my Where Have We Gone Wrong? question. But suffice it to say we Christians are producing under and marketing for a tainted brand today.
So what would Jesus do? I wonder if he would not do as he did with Simon in changing his name to Peter, and with Saul in changing his name to Paul. I wonder if he would not say today, “Christian, Christian, why do you persecute me?” Oh, yes, we do so like Saul of old quite unaware. We bring others (liberals, gays, illegal immigrants, Muslims, etc.) into judgment thinking, like Saul of old, that we are thus doing God a favor. But many of today’s young people are seeing our judgmental persecution and are running, not walking, from Jesus and into the arms of atheism or, at least, secular humanism.
Therefore, I have changed my name. I am no longer a Christian. I am simply a humble 68 year old Jesus follower who wants only to become like Jesus when I grow up. I will no longer try to produce or market for this tarnished label now synonymous with judgmentalism (or what Jesus may have labeled phariseeism). You may call it rebranding, even as Jesus himself did some important rebranding of Simon and Saul. For me it is simply my latest transformation under the power of the Holy Spirit and in the precious name, and brand, of Jesus.