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Shouldn’t Churches Do Better at Identity Issues Than Venmo?

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  Do you have identity issues? If so, welcome to the party. Blockchain technology may be bringing a new era of security online, but who gives us security about our identity in real life? Does church, for example, help you with your identity questions? Venmo* may know who you are, b…
By Seth Barnes
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Do you have identity issues? If so, welcome to the party. Blockchain technology may be bringing a new era of security online, but who gives us security about our identity in real life? Does church, for example, help you with your identity questions? Venmo* may know who you are, but does anybody in church?
 
Jesus designed the idea of church to be an encouragement to our spirits. Shouldn’t our churches do at least as good a job of validating our identities as Venmo does? When we go to church, shouldn’t we be at least as popular as Norm was when he walked into Cheers?
 
Proving your identity
 
If you were a traveler right after 9/11, you’ll remember how the security lines snaked through the airport terminals. A friend and I were talking about them back in 2001. What if we could dream up a system that could speed things up? 
 
I had this insight: If they knew that I am who I say I am – a family man who pays his bills and tries to help people – they wouldn’t need to dig through my suitcase to see if I have a bomb.
 
The problem was, they didn’t know me. I asked my friend, “What if we could validate our identities in advance? What if there was a process just like for any other club where you are a member?”
 
“Yes, he agreed, that would speed things up. But how are we going to build that?” 
 
We realized that there was no way to build a business to do this. The government controlled everything. The best thing we could do would be to give away our idea to someone who had the influence to make it happen.
 
My friend said, “I know just the person! He heads up a D.C. think tank and has government connects.”
 
Long story short, we gave our idea to him and it became the basis for the Trusted Travel and Global Entry programs! 
 
Identity problems
 
We have all these academic conversations about what Church is. About theology and eldership and meetings. We look at the Bible. The one clear mandate we have to meet together can be found in Heb. 10:24-25: “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”
 
To me, that sounds kind of like Cheers. So, why not make that our minimum standard for church? A place and people where you are known, where you are greeted you with the same gusto that Norm could expect at Cheers.
 
Some questions along those lines: 
Do you have some people who know you – the real you? 
Do they encourage you? 
Do they spur you on to love? 
Do they spur you on to good deeds?
One reason we exist
 
There is a Father in heaven whose son or daughter you are. He created you and wants you to experience his love through his family – the Church. You belong to them; they need to know you.
 
Do the churches in our towns do that? Do the ones that racers return to know them? Shouldn’t they? The world needs some churches that celebrate us when we walk through the door. 
 
Jesus’ body on planet earth should see all its members deeply connected. That was Jesus’ dream and his heartfelt prayer in John 17. It happens organically at Adventures, the ministry where I serve. For example, look at the picture above of lunch time.
 
Notice there are eight separate conversations happening. In a way it’s the opposite of Facebook friendship. It’s a one-on-one where people are known and seen. And it’s what young people are hungry for.
 
We should be amazing at validating identity!
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*Venmo is a mobile app that transfers money.

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