Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's in a Name?

For a few years now (OK for a LOT of years) I have been a reader of Charisma Magazine. Its a monthly publication with articles and news covering the charismatic stream of Christianity.
As a "dancing in the aisles" charismatic myself, I've always enjoyed the coverage and insight they give on what God is doing with His church around the world.

In the early days author Jamie Buckingham would write a last page column that was always witty, humorous, insightful, and with a gentle swipe at some of the less than desirable attributes of pentecostal Christianity. As some one who considered himself witty, humorous, and insightful, I appreciated reading someone who showed me that speaking in tongues and having a brain were not mutually exclusive.

Anyhow, when Jaimie passed away the column was assumed by the magazine's founder, Stephen Strang whose Strang Communications has grown into a media empire featuring a host of Christian publications and resources. Stephen, along with fellow editor J. Lee Grady, continued to write passionate columns encouraging Christians as well as decrying some of the hypocrisy within our own movement. The irony (and often the focus of many a letter to the editor) was one of them would be blasting the excesses of certain ministers and ministries on one page with that very type of ministry being "blasted" having a full page ad on the opposing page highlighting the fact.

Anyhow...the point of this blog post.

In Mr. Strang's latest column he says that after 30 years, they will be changing the name of the whole company from Strang Communications to Charisma Media. Why?

Essentially to take his name out of it and keep the focus on God.

He mentions how in the last year he began to use the moniker "Steve" rather than "Stephen" when identifying himself. As a "Steve / Stephen" myself I was curious why. Basically in examining his own motivations he found a little pride in his use of "Stephen". Hence a switch to the less sophisticated sounding, "Steve".

Following this, he realized he had been hoping to leave a legacy with Strang Communications not unlike great Christian publishers like Thomas Nelson and Pat Zondervan. In his words though he says,
"Was I put on earth to serve God or build a legacy to myself?...I knew the answer."

Names are pretty important things...especially to God. The Bible is full of people giving names to other people, objects, places, and even themselves for very specific reasons. One of the rewards Christ promises is the giving of a name to us that only He and the person know...suggesting an intimacy of relationship with the Creator of all life that we desire within the very soul of our being.

That said, Stephen Strang has taken his name off the masthead of the empire that he founded. He did it because he knows what very few people walking on this Earth ever fully realize:

"Jesus must increase and we must decrease."

Kudos to Stephen Strang. He continues to show me hope in the leaders of the Christian Church in general, and the Charismatic Movement specifically. Of course, considering the post, kudos is probably not what he's looking for. :)

No comments: