What’s In A Name?

What does the name of your church communicate? Think about it. Your name is used all the time, for everything. Its on the sign out front, its on all of your printed and digital communications, your website. You even say, “I work for such-and-such church.” It is one of the very first things people know about you when discussing your church. The name of your church communicates part of who you are.

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So does the name of your church matter? It does. It very much does!

Something we’ve noticed over the years is that most new church plants are not picking the traditional names like in the past. Even those associated with denominations, are leaving the denomination out of their name or title. There is no more “First Baptist of,” “Presbyterian Church of,” “… Congregational Church,” “Mennonite Brethren,” “Evangelical Free,” “Covenant,” or other names that are associated with denominations or theological words. In addition, many older churches are also changing their names and removing these types of notations.

Why? Because to the outside world they either; 1) do not mean anything to the religiously uneducated; or 2) imply a sense of traditionalism that people do not like or understand.

Now hear me out, we have nothing against denominations. They can often bring a strong doctrine, sense of larger community and provide resources and direction for churches of all sizes. We also are firm believers in the traditional aspects many churches hold dear. But consider this…outsiders don’t understand either of these things. Those who you want to reach, the lost, the ones who do not know or understand Jesus Christ, they are your target. Let’s not put anything in the way that might hinder what they think of your church. When they drive by your sign every day, do they see a name they do not understand? Does it speak of religious jargon that makes non-believers wonder if you’re weird?

Let’s be honest. We live in a world that is increasing more hostile toward Christians and churches. Our society has become incredibly uneducated on the basics of Christianity. To reach our modern society, we must remove all the barriers that might prohibit them from wanting to attend our services one day. I actually met a man once who didn’t even know the church that was on his block was a church. The sign read FMBC. All the members who attended First Missionary Baptist Church knew what it meant, but the surrounding community did not. Call letters did not mean anything to them. Is it a manufacturing plant? A government agency?

Does your current name communicate confusion? Does it communicate a vision? Or a direction? Or just a place and denomination? If your church is growing to the point that God’s next leading is to go multisite, does the name become problematic? First Church of Fresno would be a weird name if your next multisite location was 30 miles away in Sanger. It breeds confusion.

So should you change your name? And what should it be?

The latest trend is to name a church without a location in the name. Leave out the city in which you’re located. Leave out the denomination or any deep theological word or position. Pick a name that communicates a positive change, a direction, a purpose, something about life. Just in my local area, the names that stick out to me are The Well, Peoples, The Gathering, LifeBridge, The Bridge, Lifeway, Community, LifeChurch, Movement, Neighborhood. All have some variation of “church” added in somewhere in the name. These kinds of names are easy to remember and communicate a sense of locality that can be both very small as well as expanded over a wide area or in multiple cities. They do not seem overly “religious” or traditional or old.

Your name is important. It is part of your brand and who you are. It is the first thing people know about you. So what does your name communicate about who you are? Does it interest people or turn them away? Does it intrigue or confuse?

Let’s chat! What is your churches name? Have you been through a church name change?


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