I’m back in the saddle with writing LIFT updates again after a wonderful vacation with my family!
If you recall, the last update was titled, “I’m just Corey”, sharing insight in that it’s not my titles in life, work or ministry that matter, but just me, “Corey”, living and giving my faith away as I go through life, which is true for you as well. This update titled “We’re just LIFT” is to give insight on how our name and identity (even when we use our full name LIFT- The International Church of Zug) allows us, within our Swiss cultural surrounding, to have real faith conversations and discussions that normally are stopped before they get started when one of two “religious” words are used.
Normally within the Swiss culture around us (or most all of Europe as well), when a conversation heads towards the topic of God, faith, church or Jesus, then the inevitable “conversation stopping question” is usually asked. This question is simply, “Are you Catholic or Protestant?” As soon as this question is asked, then within 30 seconds the conversation is over. Regardless if one answers protestant or catholic, the walls of religion and titles have already been poured, it’s just a matter of who stands on which side of the religion wall. Either both are the same, or one is the other, but as soon as they have classified each other there is no need to continue the discussion. Within the 30 seconds the follow-up statement is, “me too, or I am the other”. and there is no need to seek insight from another on faith from there. Even more interesting is that if the conversation is in German and someone tried to answer with another option than your church name and answers by stating “Ich bin Christ” (which means a Christian in German, not saying you’re Jesus Christ), then it is socially considered that if you’re not of the State Catholic or Protestant church, then now your label is more as one who belongs to a sect/cult, versus a real church, not the label you want in trying to share real faith in Jesus with someone.
But for us, we’re just LIFT and our church’s name is LIFT (The International Church of Zug) and this is a “conversation continue-er”, not a conversation stopper! Time after time, over the last 5 years since LIFT began, many of us have found this to be true in conversations with those who live in our community of Zug around us, Swiss and non-Swiss alike. When we say we go to LIFT, then “What is LIFT?” is the open door to continue the conversation. Especially by using English and saying that we are simply an International Christian church using the Bible and English to share the Gospel message in a relevant way (or something like that), then we’ve got their curiosity, not their preconceived religious label or title to attach to us. From there you have 9 powerful words that can do more than just continue the conversation, but give real life understanding and insight to what LIFT is all about, a relationship with Jesus Christ, not just about religion. The 9 powerful words are, “Why don’t you come to LIFT with me sometime?”
(Did anyone really count the words and then think it should really be 10 and not 9 because “don’t” technically represents two words?)
Clearly, I am one who normally challenges Christians to “GO” into their world and share their faith in Jesus with those they encounter, not just inviting others to go to church so the preacher can tell them about Jesus. That’s a given for me, but at the same time, “We’re just LIFT” within our Swiss context is a great way to help individuals continue the conversations with those around them. It’s part of LIFT, your church, partnering with you in sharing (y)our faith with those around you! If their first hand experience of a LIFT worship service is very different than that of the big churches around us with the spires and bells ringing and if it helps you continue the conversation, then let’s keep the conversation going together!
Of course, I am bias in my own opinion of LIFT, but many, many others (Followers of Christ and non-Christians, Swiss and non-Swiss) that have come to a LIFT worship service over the years have said that there IS something different about LIFT and the environment at LIFT that in other churches they’ve encountered. Even if they only came once and even if they were not receptive to desiring to hear about God, it’s often mentioned that the friendly environment of a so many Internationals together, with contemporary music and focus on the Bible, but somehow relevant to today’s issues is unique. Of course, being honest and transparent, there’s been those that haven’t come back and/or didn’t like LIFT either. Our heart at LIFT isn’t about where people go to church, it’s that people come into a relationship with God thru Jesus and know His love and grace for them.
In closing, I offer proof that LIFT is a unique name that can lead to very interesting conversations. This past week I got an e-mail of a dialog with an evangelist that may come to Switzerland and a “friend of LIFT” describing LIFT as this, “It is the Lift church in Zug. In this church, one has to sit in an elevator while the pastor preaches over a monitor…… We all sing “Lift us up Lord …just kidding” I had to smile trying to imagine a big elevator with a bunch of people standing scrunched together watching a monitor of Ken , Bedros or I sharing about Jesus, although in my imagination’s version we were singing Lord I LIFT Your Name on High!
Have a wonderful week and whether you attend LIFT (or another Christian church), be blessed and be a blessing alongside those at your church as we LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS in Living and Giving our faith away!
In His grip and grace,