Introducing Identity in Loveland, Co

Grace Community Church is an independent non-denominational church in Loveland, Colorado. The mission of this fellowship of believers is to “Know Jesus and Make Him Known.” This past month we had the opportunity to introduce identity to the staff Grace Community.

A few years ago, Erik Miller became the senior pastor, succeeding the former senior pastor of Grace, Gary Glover. I had met Pastor Erik at a previous church while he was an assistant pastor and we became good friends. It was also during this time I was studying Christian Identity and starting plans for writing a book.

One afternoon, he was preparing to preach and was sharing with me the main topic of his message. The focus of the message was to call the listeners to allow the truths of the Bible to transform their heart, soul, mind, and life. After hearing his description, I shared with him that there was one idea that could cover all of these different thoughts. I needed to go to a meeting and left him thinking about it. When I saw Erik the next day, he was waiting for me to complete my thought.  Of course, it was Identity.

Since that initial discussion, Erik has been gracious enough to continue the discussion about identity with me on a regular basis. As I have had the opportunity to share my thoughts and insights regarding identity, he was always there to ask question and provide Biblical insights to refine my thinking. We have discussed everything from the impact of identity on personal transformation, preaching, ministry, discipleship, pretty much everything associated with life and ministry.

Erik and the staff of Grace Community have recently started discussing the importance of discipleship to the church’s ministries. Discipleship from the perspective of identity is a favorite topic of discussion of Erik and I and have had many conversations about this topic.

My wife and I were planning on taking a trip to Loveland, CO to visit some friends, including Erik. Since we would be in town, Erik invited us to discuss identity with the rest of the Grace Community staff. He wanted to bring the staff into the conversation that we have been having for the past number of years.

Introducing Identity

On Tuesday, April 31, I met with the staff of Grace Community Church to provide an introduction to Redeeming Identity and viewing ministry and discipleship through the perspective of identity.

This was not the first time that they had heard of identity. The staff was familiar with the common messages that are being communicated about identity. “You can and should define who you are.” “No one else can define you except you.” “Everyone should affirm and celebrate who you define yourself to be.”

One observation we discussed is that the world has made identity an important concept. The church, in most instances, have provided only a shallow treatment of identity, especially Christian identity.

Although the simple definition of identity is “Who you are,” we demonstrated to the staff that a true understanding of identity is much more. The different ways that we typically use to identify ourselves is only important because of the meanings that we attach to them. An understanding of identity that we can impact much be much more comprehensive. At this point, the staff were introduced to our definition of identity.

Identity is the set of principles, perspectives, purposes, and priorities that are held at our core, which determine everything that we think, feel, and do.

The principles, perspective, purposes and priorities provide the meanings that define who we are. Principles are the “truths” that are the foundation of our identity. Perspectives show the “point of view” that we use to observe and interpret our observations. Purpose provides our “motivation” for what we do. Priorities are used to determine what is of greater or less importance when there are competing priorities. The staff discussed different implications this deeper understanding of identity.

The key fact from this discussion was that who we are, our identity, defines what we do. 

Heart and Identity

Since this is a church staff, could not leave them with an expanded psychological definition of identity without providing a Biblical connection. This connection went back to that initial conversation with Erik. In the Bible, the term heart has a specific meaning in both the old and new testament. The heart is considered the core or center of the individual, the seat of volition or where all thoughts, feelings, and actions originate. This connection between the Biblical concept of the heart and the modern concept of identity was easily observed by the staff.

I discussed with the staff the importance that God puts on the identity of a person. It is not about acquiring knowledge, even Biblical knowledge. It is not about changing what we do, this could lead to legalism. It is not about our experiences or chasing feelings, which are fleeting. To experience the life that God created us for, we need to focus on transforming our identitiy, who we are.

Based on a question from one of the staff, there was a discussion about how we work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit to transform our identity into the one that God created us for. This is the tension of the “Already but not yet.” We have been declared having a new identity, but we are not yet living out of that new identity. This is the process of sanctification, through discipleship, us working with God to put to death our old identity and replace it with our new identity.

This time with the staff of Grace Community Church was an extreme blessing. It was great spending time and getting to know them. I look forward to future opportunities to continue this conversation with them in the future and assisting with their plans for discipleship, as they focus on identity.


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