This past Sunday our congregational meeting clarified some financial information regarding the purchase of a new facility. We also reaffirmed the decision to move forward into obtaining that facility. Especially, since our move to our current, temporary location there has been growing consideration about changing the name of our church. It’s a touchy subject to bring up because of having so many members who go back to the days of Decatur Street Christian. It’s an important subject because of so many memories that are connected with the name of our church. I appreciated this reality even more so since attending the funeral service for Pastor Harold Goodwin.
However, the question about changing the name of church for me is rooted in the mission of our church as we move into the future. I believe a name change is needed as one of many steps we can take to effectively do ministry in a new and different community than where we were located. I believe we need to do anything we can to connect well to a new section of Bartlett. The Apostle Paul once said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that I by all means might save some.” Paul was motivated to do anything that would help him have a chance to be effective in seeing people come to faith in Jesus Christ. A second consideration is in regard to the names we find in the gospel of John that Jesus used to explain to others who he was and why he came. I am referring to descriptions or titles known as the “I Am” statements of Jesus. Jesus said things like “I am the bread of life” – John 6:35, “I am the living bread” – John 6:51, “I am the light,” John 8:12 and “I am the good shepherd,” – John 10:11. Jesus used labels such as these to describe himself, especially when talking to the common person; not the religious educated leadership. He used descriptions like bread, water, light and good shepherd so people could make an immediate connection of why he came to serve. I am convinced that if we do change our name, whatever name we chose needs to communicate our purpose especially to the unchurched, the person not raised in church culture.
If you want to study this topic further, there are two articles by Thomas Rainer about church names. The first is entitled, Seven Trends in Church Names and the second is entitled, Contemporary Trends in Church Names. You can find both at ThomasRainer.com. If you don’t use internet, I encourage you to go to a person who does, especially if they are non-Christians. Ask them to look these up with you. Share the gist of the article with them and invite them to comment. You might have a great opportunity to engage someone in a faith conversation.
It’s all About Him