Identity Crisis

26 Mar

I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis lately and I don’t think I’m alone. As in the words of one of my daughter’s Dr. Seuss books “There are days when I’m not sure who or what I am.” I am, of course, talking about how I describe my faith, my brand of Christianity, my belief system or what ever else you would like to call it.

I’ve been involved with the emerging church movement / new ways of thinking for some years now. Six months ago I would have been quite comfortable describing myself as an “emerging-missional” these days I’m not so quick off the block. I’m realizing that there are lots of elements to my faith that make up my individual walk with God. Emerging, missional, monastic and even traditional all feature in my make up. For weeks now I’ve been wondering why identification is so important to us as individuals. Maybe it’s to do with belonging? If I owned up to some of my traditional beliefs / values I might no longer belong with my post modern friends, even though I very much have a post modern view?

I’m also aware that many are moving away from the “emergent” tag. Is this because traditional churches have now cottoned on and are offering “emergent services” which, from what I’ve seen, mean a more modern PowerPoint presentation or perhaps a “soaking” time. Is the “emerging church” simply becoming the latest way of marketing the same old same old? Maybe it’s because the movement has also been dubbed with the “anything goes” label that some are becoming uncomfortable? Or is it because it is seen as too much discussion and not enough action?

I’m not sure if there is a tag that can describe me. I’m basically trying to be a Jesus follower and trying to do the best I can to live a lifestyle that at least partially imitates his. I fail miserably most of the time, but still I try. I want to discover more of the life God wants for me and I do not want to settle for the “this is just how it is” Christianity which I see a lot of around me every Sunday. Still I fail. Yet I push on.

I’ve been reading Tom Sine’s new book “The New Conspirators.” In it he says “These days God is working through a generation who will not be satisfied with anything less than an authentic faith that makes a real difference in the lives of others and in the care of God’s good creation” I love this quote. That is what I want and seek to share with others – authentic faith.

I don’t want to shy away from describing myself as emerging, as it’s through this movement that I finally found a bunch of people who thought like me and wanted to experience that authentic Christianity as a community together. Last week there was some talk around blogosphere about a comment that had been made by someone who said that the emergent movement was like junk in a drawer. I don’t know in what context this comment was made, but I’d like to embrace that junk drawer. There are some precious and handy things in my junk drawer at home. What the world views as rubbish/junk God sees as a precious resource and can see the potential within it. I’m more than happy to be part of that junk drawer, but I also see that I am more than that junk drawer.

How about you? Do you have an “identity” crisis? Do you see people moving away from being associated with the emergent movement? Why do you think this is? Is your Christian identity – not identity in Christ – important to you or are you happy not being connected with any particular group/movement?

(originally appeared at on 20 March 2008)


9 Responses to “Identity Crisis”

  1. Rick March 26, 2008 at 11:48 #

    For me, the “identity crisis” rises up when I dwell on being the only person I know flesh-and-blood-wise who’s going through many of those same symptoms you’ve described above. I have an online faith lived vicariously through the writing and experiences of “friends” here, but in my own station I’m just not as connected. It’s frustrating, but one thing that keeps me sane is that I avoid the labels as much as I can, either with others or with myself, and just hope I’m doing the best I can.

  2. cindy March 26, 2008 at 14:01 #

    may I just ditto Rick?

  3. lyn March 26, 2008 at 14:36 #

    You’ve made a good point Rick, I’ll ditto you too! Most, actually, all, of the Christians we are connected with locally are certainly on a different journey right now. It’s certainly through my online friends where I receive the connection and support.

  4. traveller March 26, 2008 at 15:46 #

    This is a very thoughtful post. I think many people are working through this issue and its related consequences. Even though I like to think I have moved beyond “labels” there are still times when I find myself wanting to identify with some “name”. Like you, I my deepest heart’s desire is to just be a follower of Jesus without all the other trappings. Some days I am better at this than others.

  5. Jenni Gover March 26, 2008 at 16:13 #

    Hi Lyn,

    I can’t stand being labelled as ‘religious’, ‘Christian’, or anything similar. I am just me. As God made me. Being a ‘Christian’ doesn’t allow me to connect or have priority with God over anybody else. I am me. Take me or leave me. Mistakes and all 🙂

  6. Jeff March 26, 2008 at 17:20 #

    I relate a lot, both to your post and the comments. I’ve drawn a lot from the emergent stream in the past year (that’s about how long I’ve known there even was an “emergent” movement), but there’s a lot of mixed theology out there that I do NOT relate to nor agree with. (And for Pete’s sake, does EVERYTHING have to be a movement??) For that reason, plus the simple fact I don’t like being pigeonholed, I avoid the term “emergent” to describe myself. Labels we use to describe ourselves often get mis-used to define us incorrectly. I am happiest for now just to be known as a Christ-follower or a disciple of Jesus.

  7. lynhallewell March 27, 2008 at 13:27 #

    Thank you. I guess the labels are the trappings of people today wanting to identify others?

  8. lynhallewell March 27, 2008 at 13:28 #

    Thanks Jenni.

  9. lynhallewell March 27, 2008 at 13:32 #

    LOL! I guess today in all walks of life everything has a movement. I think it’s to do with how we all compartmentalize our lives these days – which I don’t think is a good thing.

    Labels certainly do get mis-used and we can see the “movement” junkies within Christianity today. Some are quick to be part of what’s “in vogue” and then to quickly move on when the next thing comes along. This is evident with the emergent, missional and monastic streams, as it has been in the past.

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