Situation: Imagine that you just got a new pastor of your church. Initially you are disappointed because you miss the old pastor,as well as the interim, as you naturally resist change. One Sunday, this new guy, who has a tendency to change the name of the church he leads, suggests that your church also change its name. Is this a good idea?
More specifically, his plan was to change my church from the Chambersburg First Church of God to Grandpoint Church (fine print: an affiliate of the Church of God General Conference) as per the name of the road being Grandpoint Rd. "Church of God" is the denomination yet it means different things to different people and my pastor wanted to take this out of the church name so not to be "offensive".
Of course, and this was last fall, I said No! and made my dad sit the guy down and tell him he was crazy. No lie.
And perhaps with the counsel of others as well, it ended the idea right then and there.
Although I would love to get comments on whether you all think the name change could have been beneficial or if you have attended a church that changed its name. Comments are always welcome.
Here are a few ideas I had based on what I heard from my family, although I never myself attended any of the meetings because I didnt want to get angry or anything dramatic of the sort.
1) Churches should not be overly worried with Google SEO.
We are trying to save souls (aka our friends, families, and neighbors) from eternal death and excuse me if I say I would perfer to invest time and money in that cause. It would have cost a lot to get new flyers, logos, and church signs and everything, like at least several thousands of dollars.
They already were planning signs, website/twitter/facebook, promotional materials, etc according to the flyer and all I could think of was like people spending hours changing the tags of all the tweets.
I have this big question why there are yet hungry children both locally and globally because Christianity says: Go out, put others above yourself, feed people, show them love, be there friend, etc. And we literally were okay with instead of using thousands of dollars for outreach and feeding hungry children, we just wanted new bulletins? Lame.
^^ This was in the Thanksgiving- Christmas stretch, so food is something that was overly on my mind.
2) We are Church of God and its plain old deceptive to hide that fact. We have nothing to be ashamed of and we never have had anything to be ashamed of.
Apparently there is another different group in the South that uses the Church of God name, although with a different logo and all. Personally I think that most people would figure out that we are in PA not SC and therefore we are not the southern Church of God people.
I feel like no other denomination even has this issue. Presbyterians arent going to change there name because they have different beliefs than another Presby church. Methodists arent going to change there name because they have different beliefs than another Methodist church. Literally no one else has this issue.
3). We just changed pastors without a church split or crowds of people leaving. Do you not realize we just did the impossible? Do you really feel its necessary for us to have a split? Is the name of your place of employment on your business card that important to you that you are going to create this whole huge situation?
Quite frankly, since this guy was new, I woudnt have been surprised if half of the church would have turned against this guy. Talk about a wee little intra-church Civil War. Isnt that precious???
Yeah, though. I really didnt see that as doing anyone any sort of good.
4) These meetings were sketchy.
Okay so this one is one my mother called him out on. I remember even now that she came home and complained that the meeting was totally unbiblical: "There was no prayers or patience or scriptural reasoning to anything". It seems that it was just a guy who thought his ideas were heavenly and we needed to follow his every whim quickly and wholeheartedly,
Honestly, thats no way for a church to run so I wanted to straighten that out before he got other ideas. There was no way to measure "growth" really that this new name change would be almost miraculously drawing in, as they were told.
Just one guy and a few friends talking about what would be pleasing to them.
5) It sort of was all sketchy.
There would only be one vote on one particular Sunday. I felt it was like a "Do what we want and there wont be trouble" cry, even though that might be a little sketchy.
One of the ideas was that if you just was we are "a church" that there will be more young people and for them we need more rock and roll services. And for that we need to take away some of the support to the services with hymns.
Aka, the one I go to. This would be like being told your favorite team was going to be ripped off because someone thinks another team deserves the field. Except that team didnt even exist yet :/
6) What does name change mean to you?
Doesnt it scream "catastrophe" to you? You think of a pizza joint that probably cooked cats in the back changing its name or a privately owned fitness center in the bad end of town changing its name.... but if someone would have told me my church was going to try to change its name, *what?!?!?*
The thing is my church isnt doing bad. We are now doing a multi-million dollar expansion. We had 330+ kids in the kids wing on Easter Sunday. The fire code says my youth room is to have 54 kids and I was told on the first Wednesday night there was like either 120 or 140 people. They even took out the chairs because there werent enough to go around and therefore were awkwardly taking up space. Most of the time I like my church.
And literally we have existed for at least 100 years under the same name, I have no idea the real date off the top of my head, and my point is that we are not a dying church.
I wouldnt say we have a bad reputation in the community at all....yet a name change sounds like everything has fallen apart. It sounds like youre asking for the church to pick sides (does that sounds like unity to you, may I ask?) or that there has already been a change in management or doctrine.
Nope, were still here because of the Holy Bible and Jesus, as God, dying for our sins 2000 years ago. Same mission and I think we do a fair job presenting that currently.
7) No one else in the denomination was throwing a hissy fit, it cant be a legit huge problem. That is to say that contrary to what you may think after reading this far in the post, the name isnt a big deal.
The denominational youth camp wasnt hiding that its the regional denominational place to ship your kids off to for a week. None of the other churches cared about it at all, they were too busy doing things that mattered like draw people closer to God. Hmmm...
It doesnt matter if we change the name of the building of the people inside arent getting any closer to God... and they were acting like making a point of the name of the road our church was on was going to help us embrace "the mission of leading people to a life changing encounter with Christ" and I was like, well aint that nice sounding words you wont even remember come next Sunday.
Because really, does God care what we call the church this much? Is God provoking this name change?
^^ How many time have you seen someone say they have this huge long term goal that dies out? This sort of "our ministry is going to thrive forever" attitude seemed both sugar coated and fishy. Well, ewww, thats pretty gross?
8) This identity thing. Church of God, Christian, etc.
Alright so there was this huge push that "nothing has changed, everything will be the same" but it still felt like someone was stealing the church. It really felt like you had to accept the name change "lets be progressive, help us move in a positive direction" or be old school.
Again I have never come across any sort of identity confusion about my church name. And I seriously still dont see how taking our our denomination helps us to "better identify with our community and mission"
And I was really confused about who would sign up for this church if they were just visiting and hearing all this. I'm pretty sure that if I was a first time visitor, I would have ran away in fear.
Were we going to drift from our identity? I mean if we dont admit we are Church of God, will we act like Church of God?
*sighs* Its late.
I did come across something earlier that said "Be bibline all your life. Be like Bunyan, of whom Spurgeon said, that if you pricked any vein, the blood that would flow out would be bibline. Read the Word, study the Word, believe the Word, pray over the Word, love the Word, live the Word, memorize the Word, meditate on the Word, sing the Word, and practice the Word." and thats a good idea. Whatever change or situation we are facing, we should always seek to make Christ known. Whatever the sign in front of the church building says.