Why I don't like labels

Recently someone met with me and asked if we (WCC) were, let’s say, Sproulites, or followers of R.C. Sproul because Chris uses his video series during Sunday School to teach systematic theology. That question really stuck with me, because I never considered our entire church could be associated with someone by a simple video series. After the question was asked though, it made perfect sense how that could happen.

Personally, I’ve never listened to Sproul or read much of his material. It’s not because I dislike him or anything – in fact I’ve really enjoyed the video series so far – it’s just that you can’t listen to everyone and he’s someone I never checked out. There will actually be a number of Sproul’s videos on eschatology (prophecy) that we won’t be using because we don’t agree with him in that area.

The conversation reminded me of how careful we need to be about what we use in our church. We don’t use a lot of programs or material adopted from other churches, but if we did use something from Saddleback (where Rick Warren pastors) or Willow Creek (where Bill Hybels pastors) we’d probably be viewed as seeker-sensitive, and if we used any of the Nooma videos or Rob Bell’s books we’d be viewed as Emergent; both labels I wouldn’t want to have.

Not only would I not want those labels, I don’t want to be known as a church that follows a certain individual, group, movement, or even denomination since we’re non-denominational. I really like John MacArthur’s commentaries, so you’ll hear me quote him probably more than anyone else; however, I still wouldn’t want people to say, “They follow John MacArthur.” I think this is what Paul was referring to when he discouraged the Corinthians from saying, “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos” (1 Cor 1:12, 3:4-7). It’s not that I have any problems with John MacArthur (I actually love his commentaries and sermons), I’d just like to be known as a church that follows the Scripture. I’d be thrilled if when people discussed our church they said, “Woodland Christian Church follows the Bible. That’s what they preach. That’s what they teach. If you go to their church or Bible studies or events, that’s what you’re going to hear.”

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