Changing Our Name
The best things in my life have involved dramatic change--when I moved from single life to married life, when our daughter was born, when our son was born or when we suddenly moved to Highland. It's been said that the only people who like change are babies with wet diapers! Yet an effective mission for Christ moves forward with planned, carefully considered and strategic change.
What’s in a name?
Mission is in a name. Church names are our first opportunity to cast our vision and share our faith. Names can communicate something of what we offer to the community. Names can also be obscure to outsiders. When this happens the name becomes a barrier to getting acquainted with new people. Names can broaden the image of a church, narrow it down or make it unclear.
Names can also call the congregation to an ideal or a central value. They can serve as a talking point when having a faith conversation with an outsider. A bad name might require a lot of explanation with arcane historical details irrelevant to the public at large. A good church name opens communication with those outside the faith and calls those inside to a central vision.
Have we always had the same name?
Changing names is not new in our history. We’ve done it 5 times since our founding in 1865. Our current name dates from only 1968. It point of fact we’ve changed denominations 3 times in our history and another change in denominational affiliation is coming with the looming separation of the current denomination. The proposed name change will not affect our current denominational affiliation--that is a separate issue that we will likely address later in the year.
What’s wrong with our current name?
Our current name consists of a location and a denominational label. Is our ministry limited to just this location? Could not a new name broaden our appeal? Is our denominational label well known or understood? Does it have a positive connotation? How many people know the insider-story of this label? How many outsiders would care? Explaining our denominational label requires a deep dive into the details of historical events occurring in England in 1738. Isn’t there a name that would enable us to share Jesus Christ with our unchurched neighbors? I think surely there are many such names that would make us more accessible. A new name could make our mission more intelligible to someone first encountering us.
What never changes?
Our faith doesn’t! We still have the same mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We still hold to the Apostles’ Creed, the moral law of God and the doctrinal statements of our church including the inspiration and full authority of the scriptures. Rick Warren often says of church life, “Methods are many, principles are few. Methods always change but principles never do.” Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Our message remains as it began in 33 AD. We are only changing our name to better reach people for Christ.
What can I do?
Join the excitement! Be praying about new ways to reach new people for Christ in our region. Be in prayer for the name change and re-branding task force. Re-branding will include new road signs on M-59 and at our Livingston Rd. entrance. Send your ideas and comments to Karie Saunders or get with a member of the task force. Join us for an all-church meeting after both services on February 28. Let this moment of planned, strategic change rally us around God’s vision for our ministry. God grant our new name to bring more effective faith-sharing by an energized church!