Between two skyscrapers in downtown Melbourne, Australia, a church building sits on the corner of one of the busiest streets in that teeming metropolis. The name on the sign says, “Cross Culture Church of Christ.” What an unusual name.
After visiting their web site, I realized that the congregation is not part of our faith fellowship, yet their sign struck me. It contained several messages.
Most congregations identify themselves geographically, so we have the Main Street Church of Christ or the Northside Church of Christ. This group decided to invest in a designation that conveyed theology.
At first, I thought they must have an international membership. Indeed they do. We often use the term “cross-cultural” to convey that someone crosses from their home culture into another land where the language, customs and traditions differ. In that sense the incarnation of Jesus may be the ultimate cross-cultural experience. Due to the internationalization of America, many of our congregations might now be termed “cross-cultural.” People with other languages and customs move into our neighborhoods. Increasingly we have congregations who have services in Chinese or Spanish or Ghanaian.
Secondly, it occurred to me that the Melbourne group aimed to say something about their outreach. They initiated crossing the barriers that separate people. Often congregations have a “come to us” outreach. It appeared that this group meant, “We’ll come to you.” One can’t help but hear an echo of the Great Commission’s imperative which is not “come” but “go.”
Much later I saw in the designation what I’d earlier missed. I understood the word “cross” to be related to the verb “to cross.” Then I wondered if they meant it as an adjective. If so, they implied that they sought to shape their congregation’s culture around the cross of Christ. They sought to be a congregation with a cross-shaped culture. Ultimately that’s what the name “Christian” means. “We are like Christ.” He heads our body. We walk in his footsteps.
Our geographical designations on our church signs serve us well. But this sign on a church building in Australia reminds us all of some deeper biblical perspectives on who we are to be.