"Thrive Church" Proposed Name Change FAQ
When did this whole idea of changing our church name come about?
The idea has actually been discussed on and off for nearly twenty years. For various reasons, the timing never seemed right. In November/December 2018, the church actually took a survey of the congregation and gathered name ideas. Once again, the timing didn't seem right.
What makes the timing right now?
During the pandemic we had to figure out new ways to worship and do ministry. With the roll out of vaccines, the opening of schools and businesses and the increase in gathering allowances, now is a great time for thinking about what's next. There is also the promise and excitement of being debt free. Due to age and weathering, there is a need for new signage on both Livingston Road and M59. Before we invest in new signage, it’s appropriate to consider and come to consensus on a potential new name for the church. A new name does not change our current denominational affiliation which remains United Methodist.
Why can't we just wait for the coming separation of the United Methodist Church before making a change to our name?
Our current signs are in need of replacement now. The name of our church is a separate issue from denominational affiliation. The point of a new name is to draw our members together around a central value of our vision statement—Thrive—and to inspire us to live into that value. Secondly it speaks to unchurched households in our area in a positive and accessible way thus enhancing our outreach and appeal. Choosing a name and rebranding our church is a positive, proactive choice to identify ourselves and reach out to others. It’s the name we choose that speaks most to outsiders telling them something of who we are and what we offer them. A denominational label does not accomplish this purpose.
The name we're hearing is Thrive Church, a United Methodist Congregation. Who came up with that and how did that name rise above other names?
A multi-generational/gender team of 10 was assembled and tasked with the process of prayer, discussion (which included worksheets, research, and combing through an extensive list of name suggestions), and then presenting their recommendation to the church leadership team (called the FAST team). Their presentation took place on Tuesday, March 2nd in the Worship Center. Thrive was the name they recommended based on the above as well as our mission and vision and what we seek for ourselves as well as others – a thriving life in Christ. It's a name that gives us the opportunity to share with others about what it means. Connect. Grow. Serve. Experience Life with Us. What kind of life is that? A thriving life!
Will Thrive Church be our new name?
That has not been decided yet. The FAST team is in prayer and seeking input from others regarding the name. They will meet again on March 23rd at 7pm in the Worship Center for further discussion and a possible decision. The meeting is open to the congregation. If you are not comfortable attending in-person, consider writing your thoughts in a letter which we will read at the meeting.
There are other secular organizations using the term "Thrive" - Thrive Cosmetics, Thrive Global, a weight management organization. Should the church have a name that might be construed as being associated with organizations like those?
We are a church and will continue to operate as one. We will witness and invite and love and serve, doing the things a church is supposed to do, pointing the way to Jesus. That is what will set us apart from all secular organizations.
Thrive Church sounds cliché, trendy, and non-distinct?
It aligns well with our vision and mission of the church and is actually used in our vision statement, we will be a “thriving church where individuals and families can connect to Christ, grow in their faith, and serve in ministry.” Churches of all denominations are using names that do not describe their location and denomination. This does not make them trendy. It opens up opportunities. “Thrive” is a positive word that enjoys wide appeal. It also meshes well with our connect-grow-serve slogan as well as the agricultural images of the tree logo and the Sower statue. It suggests the sowing of seeds and growth of crops as well as people.
Will changing our name affect our 501 3c status or how the State or Federal governments see us?
Since we would only be changing the name of the church, not leaving the UMC, our status with the governments would remain the same. Of course, we will need to file an amendment to our Articles of Incorporation with our new name listed. This would be done in Lansing and with the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Once filed and approved, we would work to make other official name changes with our bank, insurance company, service companies, letterhead, signage, etc. Similarly, changing our name will not impact memorial, trust, or other gifts given to HUMC as we will be considered a successor organization.
How can we be sure a name change will increase attendance or membership or help bring more people to Christ?
There isn't a name out there, including our current name, which will increase attendance or membership. It is up to the people inside the church to reach out and share Christ in a way that helps draw others in. It is relational and includes our grace and love and witness to the goodness of Jesus and what it means to invite Him into your life. Names of themselves don’t attract people. It’s people who attract people through personal witness and invitation. Names do inspire people to live into them. A church seeking to live into Thrive will be more likely to want to witness and invite others.
We are well known in the community as HUMC. How will the community know it's still us?
We will spread the word and live as we have lived, serving our community, reassuring them that they are worthy of our time, talent and treasures, and just because our name has changed, nothing else has. We still care! Many people in our community drive by our property every day and yet don’t know our church is here. Judging by conversations with ordinary people in our own neighborhood, many can’t identify HUMC at all. Rebranding is an opportunity to provoke interest in our church in our region.
What is the overall cost of changing our name, not just the cost of the signs and letterhead and stuff, but also the cost of losing the reputation our name has in the community, or the cost of losing current members because they don't like it, or the potential loss if the new name doesn't 'work'?
We have budgeted for new signage and marketing this year and will be getting quotes once a final decision has been made. We are using in-house talent for branding design work. Regarding cost of reputation or members, there is no way to anticipate the overall cost or the overall gain. Jesus is the head of the church and we will continue to seek Him no matter what comes our way.
Should we wait to find out what will be required when the church actually splits? Maybe we won't have to change our name?
To be clear: the name of our church is a separate issue from denominational affiliation. The name will work for us as a piece of a broader mission and outreach strategy to speak to the unchurched. The name can stay, regardless of the denominational label. The name can work for us regardless of denominational label. A proactive rebranding of our church is a piece of mission strategy. It is seizing the day for Christian witness not passive waiting for institutional direction. There are numerous examples of United Methodist congregations in Michigan that go by a congregationally chosen name and not a denominational label. Here’s a few:
Redeemer Church—Dewitt, Michigan
The Gathering—Harrison, Michigan
Cornerstone Church—Grand Rapids, Michigan
Friendship Church—Canton, Michigan
Christ Church—Frazer, Michigan
Waiting carries no benefits and runs the risk of missing the opportunities for mission and outreach that a planned and deliberate rebranding can bring.
Are there members who have not noticed, or not had access to the recent communication about this change? Will they have the opportunity to be part of the process?
Our website records that 248 households received two emails on this issue and confirms that they were opened. Facebook data confirms that 170 people read the three posts we’ve made on name change. YouTube confirms that 225 households viewed the 2 services where this process was announced in addition to nearly 200 in-person attenders who were exposed to these announcements and invitations to participate. This supports a broad knowledge of this process in our congregation.
The Name Change and FAST teams have taken this responsibility very seriously. There has been much prayer about it and there will continue to be prayer throughout the process. Thoughts and ideas from the congregation are welcomed as they serve an important part of the process also. A final decision will be made based on that prayer, discussion, research, needs, thoughts and ideas, and what seems best for the church overall. We will continue to make information available as things progress. We will continue to listen to and consider the thoughts and concerns brought before us. We understand that making a decision that everyone agrees with probably isn't possible, so we will look to God to move in all our hearts to bring about the direction He desires for us.
It is the sincere prayer of the FAST team that everyone would seek to understand the why, whether or not they are happy with or in agreement with the decision and final outcome. As leaders, we must set aside our personal opinions, likes, dislikes, and our own desires. We must put our focus on what's best for the church. We ask you to join us in that same sacrifice. It is not about us. It is all about Jesus. May He be glorified through the efforts of His church.
For more information, or to share your thoughts, please contact Karie Saunders, 248-891-6940 or firstname.lastname@example.org.