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God's Free Gift

Christianity >> What is there in a name?

The trend in church names is to hide the identify of those involved. Is this Christian?


This morning's Washington Post's religion section has an article about a large number of churches who have chosen or changed their names to assure the removal of denomination markings.  No more Baptist -- or Presbyterian or Assemblies of God -- for these folks.  They prefer more generic names such as Fellowship for Everyone Church. The theory is that potential visitors are "turned off" by such denominational symbols.  The move, I suppose, is the modern equivalent of a seeker friendly approach.

This is not a new movement.  We were involved for a short time with a church plant whose name was chosen to provide a non-Baptist feel, open community feel.  This was, perhaps, four years ago.  In fact, they have since changed their name to remove potential geographical markings as well.  All with the goal of attracting more visitors. 

To me this all feels like modern day marketing techniques.  How do you attract your market?  If we read the Bible, there are no true church names.  The letters are addressed to the church at Ephesus or the churches at Rome or those of the Diaspora, but not to First Baptist North Street.  The thought is certainly there, perhaps, but not the name.  I was told once by a good friend that there are actually four church names in the Scriptures.  One was the four square church, but I forget the other three.  These would qualify under the new naming guidelines, but four square does not sound very seeker friendly to me.

I am concerned that in worrying about what we name the churches, we are losing the message behind the effort. 

This is not a very complete list, but I think we are fooling ourselves if we think the name is going to attract or dissuade enough visitors to make a real difference.  A church is the people.  The people have to display the love of Jesus and reach out to others.  The people have to convince non-attenders that this is the church to attend.  If the people fail to accomplish this, the name will not save them.

Jim A.

 

Posted On: 2005-08-06 11:22:40 || Comments (0 ) || Add a Comment
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