A lot goes in a name. And a whole lot goes into naming or re-naming a church. I remember when my friend Frank Santora from Danbury, CT, renamed his church. They went from Bright Clouds Ministries (not an Indian reservation) to Faith Church. Well that was a big win for them. I don’t think anyone in congregation complained; again, why would they? One of the frequent questions I get from church leaders has to do with their church’s name. But before you go out and change your congregation’s name, here are a few thoughts to consider:
- Make sure you have a compelling reason to change the name. Name changes are traumatic. The older the congregation, the more emotional equity a name has. For example, it doesn’t make sense to be “Hunter Street Baptist Church” if you’re moving to Michigan Avenue. A name change is warranted here, or if your church name is Bright Clouds.
- Location-specific names tie you to one location. Much like the previous example, if you are Haywood Lane Assembly of God and you want to start a satellite in another part of town than your name will not resonate with your new community. If you ever relocate, that name will not work either. Think big, think far and don’t put unnecessary limits on your congregation by making it community specific.
- Church names in foreign languages are confusing and come across pretentious. Imago Dei, Oikos Fellowship, Kaleo, Coram Deo unfortunately are real church names. I know some of these folks are going to wake up some day, maybe some already have, and say “What where we thinking?” If you have to explain the meaning of your church name you are in trouble.
- Make sure people know you’re a church. Names like “Threshold” and “Inversion Fellowship” can mean a lot of different things. Don’t make people ask “What is it?” most will not do it anyway, they will just ignore you.
- Use words that cannot be use negatively. There’s never a negative connotation for “Hope” or “Faith” these are positive words by definition. But what about “Locust Lane Chapel?” Well, the last time I check locusts were a plague. I know that might be the name of your town, but it’s still a plague.
What about your church name. What does it communicate?