Why Doesn’t Watermark Church Have A Cross On The Stage (Most Of The Time?)


Where’s the cross?

With technology today, one way I frequently interface with Watermark members and guests is through email. I typically get some excellent and thoughtful questions that I welcome the opportunity to respond to. These questions are great teaching moments for not only for myself and those who are asking, but also for anyone else who may have similar inqueries. From time-to-time I would love to leverage this blog in an endeavor to make those emails public and spark more conversation around them.

To kick this off, below is an email I recently received from Jason asking why we don’t have crosses on stage. Read below for his original question and my response back to him.


From: xxx
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: Cross?

Quick question…Why is there no cross on the stage?

From: Todd Wagner (pastoraloffice@watermark.org)
To: xxx
Subject: Re: Cross?

xxx…glad you asked. While we don’t have any objections to crosses being on stage (that is evident if you were here with us on Easter…if you weren’t, check out this video. Most of the time however, our set up does not typically include a cross on stage. The same is obviously true for the outside of our building but we earnestly pray it is never true in regard to the the testimony of our lives.

While a cross is an excellent reminder of Christ’s atoning death for us and our subsequent justification and death to sin, we also believe having a cross on our bodies or our building is not necessarily the best way to display our love for it or the Christ Who hung on it. I think you will agree that there are many who culturally wear a cross around their necks without having any understanding of its implication and also sadly agree that there are too many buildings with crosses on top of them that are full of leaders, followers and doctrines that do anything but reflect its glory.

As you know, Jesus says they will know we are His disciples by the way we LOVE one another, not by the way we decorate our stages, buildings or wardrobes. (John 13:34-35)

Bottom line, we have no objection to a cross being displayed anywhere in or on our building or bodies but we do pray that we have an increasing obsession to live our lives in such a way that others see us “pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus.”

Hope that helps xxx…I’m not sure if you are fully connected with us at Watermark, but would love to help you take steps towards doing so if you would desire that. Glad you reached out and hope you are out representing Christ by the way you lead, love, and serve today!

Todd Wagner | pastoraloffice@watermark.org
Watermark Community Church

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t Watermark Church Have A Cross On The Stage (Most Of The Time?)

  1. Great Word! I am so very thankful to be part of a body that understands that it takes more than a bumper sticker, an I heart Jesus t-shirt, or an Icthus, to be a Christian. To be a Christian is to receive a “heart transplant” from the “Almighty Physician.” The irony is that the healing received is a complete “death to self.” May we continue to live out the verse from Colossians 1:28 which says that it is “Christ in you” that is “the hope of glory.” Not a “trinket around your neck” or a “cross atop a building.” These things are not bad in and of themselves but we must remember that each believer is a “living stone.” (1 Peter 2:5) One that is being built up into a temple in which the Holy Spirit can dwell, with Christ Jesus being the cornerstone. Amen!

  2. I have been watching a show called Wretched with Todd Friel. Have you heard of it? Recently, one of things he discussed on this show was how to find a good church. Below is a list of the questions he suggested that we ask the pastor. The last question is about displaying the cross. Todd’s belief is that the church should be primarily geared toward believers and our evangelizing should be done predominately outside the church. He believes that churches today have become too seeker sensitive at the expense of feeding the sheep. I wondered what your thoughts were on this.

    Looking for a good church? Join the club. Church-shopping can be a long and painful process. To shorten your search, call the pastor of the church before you visit and ask the following questions. This might save you a lot of Sundays.
    1. What is man’s biggest problem?
    Seeker sensitive and felt-needs churches focus on man’s hurts and problems. The Bible says that man’s biggest problem is sin.
    2. What must a man do to inherit eternal life?
    Repent and trust is the Biblical answer. If the word “repent” is never used, say, “Thank you.”
    3. How do you deliver the salvation message?
    Ask the pastor to describe specifically what he says. Does he encourage people to simply say a prayer? Does he tell people to ask Jesus into their hearts? The salvation message should include: God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, God’s response (hell), God’s kindness (Jesus on the cross), man’s response (repentance and faith).
    4. How hard is it to become a Christian?
    The “formula” is simple, doing it is not. It is not easy to believe.
    5. How often do you talk about sin, righteousness and judgment?
    Balance is key. This should not be the only emphasis, but it should be a regular emphasis.
    6. How seeker sensitive is your church?
    It is o.k. for a church to be “seeker aware” but seeker sensitive means that they lean toward seekers and not the saved.
    7. Who do you do church for, seekers or members?
    “Both” is not acceptable. Church should be done for members and the unsaved are welcome to attend.
    8. Do you dumb down your sermons?
    If he says yes, he is probably not trying to wean his members from milk to meat. Answers like, “We try to make our sermons accessible to everyone” are sermons that are not meaty.
    9. What is your mixture of topical vs. expository preaching?
    Topical preaching is fine, but if a pastor never or rarely preaches expositionally (verse by verse), then you are going to be learning from the pastor and not God’s Word.
    10. Do your sermons emphasize theology or are they relevant?
    Everyone should say their sermons are relevant, what you are looking for is if they teach theology.
    11. Describe your youth programs.
    If fun and games is the major (and usually first) emphasis, you have a youth program that is trying to compete with MTV.
    12. Describe your evangelism programs.
    Don’t just accept, “We have an evangelism committee.” Dig. Are they serious about saving souls?
    13. What church growth model do you follow?
    Hopefully they don’t have one. Churches should be reaching out to the lost, but churches that are plugged into new church growth models tend to follow man’s modern ideas rather than the Bible.
    14. How much do you give to missions and the hungry?
    Again, this reveals the heart of the church. While most churches give to missions, many never consider the poor.
    15. Do you believe the Bible contains no errors or contradictions?
    No equivocation allowed here.
    16. Do you believe in a literal 6 day creation?
    Jesus did (Matt.19:4).
    17. Do you believe in a literal hell and eternal punishment?
    Jesus did (Matt.25).
    19. When you distribute the Lord’s Supper, do you emphasize the need to examine yourself? Paul did (I Cor.11:27-32).
    20. Can a person who is living in a persistent lifestyle of sin inherit eternal life?
    Sinners can certainly be forgiven, but practicing sinners cannot inherit eternal life (I John 3:8,9).
    21. Does your church exercise church discipline?
    Paul said we should (I Cor.5).
    22. Do Sunday school teachers, nursery, and youth volunteers fill out an application to answer questions about their core beliefs, or are all volunteers accepted?
    23.What are the essentials of the faith?
    Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Salvation through faith alone, the inerrancy of Scripture.
    24. Do you have a cross in your sanctuary?
    Many remove it because they fear it will turn off seekers. They should glory in the cross. The cross should be the central focus of every church.

    • There are some good questions in there Katie…but I wouldn’t list #24 among them. Notice many of his questions had Scripture next to them…but #24 only listed his perceived reason some might not have one. Had he said, “are they ashamed of the cross of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16, 1 Cor 1:18) then he would have had a good question. Jesus and the gospel should be the focus of every church.

      One other thing…I’d be willing to bet I could find more compromised churches with crosses in them than someone could find “bad” churches missing a cross that is displayed prominently.

      BTW…there are others in there I would not use either (but I’ll let you and others reply to what you think those might be and why!)

  3. Thanks Todd! This was the first questions my Catholic parents asked when they came to Watermark with me one Sunday. I’m so grateful to share this post with them to better explain! =)

  4. Great article. My church also doesn’t use crosses in their building, because we try to focus on the life of Christ, and not his death.

  5. I live in Utah now (formerly was at Watermark) and the physical symbol of the cross means a lot more out here. Rarely would you find someone wearing a cross that doesn’t have a relationship with Christ. Most of the LDS here find the cross to be offensive. The late LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley was asked a similar question as why they don’t display the cross and here is his response: http://www.lds.org/ensign/2005/04/the-symbol-of-our-faith?lang=eng

    “I replied that the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.

    I hope he did not feel that I was smug or self-righteous in my response. Our position at first glance may seem a contradiction of our profession that Jesus Christ is the key figure of our faith. The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We worship Him as Lord and Savior. The Bible is our scripture. We believe that the prophets of the Old Testament who foretold the coming of the Messiah spoke under divine inspiration. We glory in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John setting forth the events of the birth, ministry, death, and Resurrection of the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. Like Paul of old, we are “not ashamed of the gospel of [Jesus] Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). And like Peter, we affirm that Jesus Christ is the only name “given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).”

    Just because people misuses the symbol of the cross doesn’t mean we should avoid it. Galatians 6:14. I’m a little confused because you don’t really answer the question of why you don’t regularly display the cross, other than to say it doesn’t fit with the set up on stage. Aren’t there other places to display the cross?

    Grace & Peace

    • Hey Tara….great to hear from you. Praying for you and Rob as you love others and live for our King in Utah. Forgive me for not being clear on your question….I couldn’t tell who you were commenting to (me or Hinckley).

      Also, how people misuse the cross or “set design” has little or nothing to do with why there isn’t one ALWAYS on stage or on our building. It is because we don’t believe it is necessary for us to do everything the Father wants us to do to honor the Son and advance His gospel and Kingdom. Simple as that. We ALWAYS preach the cross and often display it (probably every week in some image) but we have not felt compelled by Scripture or 1 Cor 9:22-23 thinking to permanently affix one. Who knows, if we were in Utah we might!