What’s in a Name?

In recent years, Christianity has witnessed a lot of name changes.

Churches are starting to take the “denominational qualifiers” out of their names. Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches have become “community” churches. New church plants find some combination of the words spring, life, and new…and that’s the name of the new church.

The latest fad here is the “one-word” name. Elevation. Genesis. Radiant. I’ve even seen “Re:” church. Anything that conveys a positive or postmodern them–such as the email abbreviation for Reply–now works for a church name.

Yes, this is a fad. It’s a little too “trendy” (bordering on cheesy) for my taste. But I didn’t grow up with that, so I don’t fully understand it.

What I do understand is that these new “naming rights” tell us a lot about our culture. They may not speak to our personal preferences, but they do tell us a lot about what’s in a name.

No, I am not proposing that we change the name of the church; in fact, “Augusta Heights” actually sounds a little like one of these “trendy” names. But I am saying that we need to think about the message that our names send.

During a meeting with some friends from a “sister” church, Kingdom Life (http://www.kingdomlifecc.com/), I found some interesting new names that I really like.

We always have “Sunday School” in traditional Baptist churches. Honestly, does ANYONE want to think about going to school? The term “Bible Study” is better, but you still have that school implication. It’s like going to “study hall” or something.

Kingdom Life uses something different for their Sunday Bible hour. Try this on for size:  FULFILLMENT Hour. That still has a bit of a “church-y” sound, but it may give a more positive vibe than “school” or “study.”

And you know those choir songs that we occasionally have after the benediction? That’s called a “choral response.” Change that one to “CELEBRATION Song,” and it takes on an entirely different perspective.

Some people might argue, “Well what’s wrong with what we’ve always called it?” The answer to that is simple:  Nothing!  Nothing at all is wrong with having Sunday School or Choral Response…for US. But what do those words convey to others, who did not grow up in the tradition and have no clue what “Choral Response” even means?

Now, let me restate:  I am NOT proposing wholesale changes to any names that we have at church. What I am asking you to do is think about the question:  What’s in a name?

And do our man-made “names” convey who we are and who we are called to be?

Although I admit that “Fulfillment Hour” is sounding pretty good…


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