I’ve had the joy of being a new dad twice in the last three years. Choosing names for our boys (Levi Colton and Lincoln Caleb) was a big deal. My wife and I each had criteria we wanted to be in the names. Yes, we are one of those families with first names all starting with the same letter. There’s no turning back on that decision now, but that’s beside the point.
Choosing a name is important. It’s an integral part of the church planting process. It’s something to not take lightly. There is no book of baby names out there for churches. And just like choosing names for your kids, the popularity of names come and go. What was a standard name 10-15 years ago may not be the best choice today. We can all think of names and wonder “what were they thinking when they chose that name?” I would guess we have looked at a few church names and thought the exact same thing.
So what’s in a name? How should one go about making this decision?
There are a couple underlying things that should be considered…
Who is your audience?
This is key. New churches are planted for the purpose of reaching an unreached group of people. This may mean they have either never been to church or have given up on church. In both of these cases certain Christian lingo may not be the best approach (e.g. First Grace Believers Church of the Hallelujah Choir). If you are trying to reach a first generation ethnic group it may actually be better to have your name in their first language. Your audience will make assumptions based on your name alone. Choosing the right name can manage or even eliminate certain assumptions.
What are you trying to tell them?
In a previous post I’ve talked about the bigger picture of branding. As you have created your values and the things you are promising to deliver it is possible that there is a great name or word within those that captures the essence of who you want to be. I recently had a conversation with Tory Farina, lead pastor/planter at High Point Church about how they chose the name for their church. He told me a story of a conversation with a lady who was about midway through life. During the course of that conversation she kept talking about her “high points” in life and they were all in her distant past. Tory said, “Jesus is the ultimate High Point but we are also trying to help people like her discover who God made them to be. Find Your Place - Develop Your Faith - Live Your Potential! If they discover their High Point, everything else in life has meaning, significance and intentionality. We filter everything through High Point. We are trying to give people a Sunday product that truly is a High Point for their week.” This is a great example of allowing who you are and the promise you are making to people come through as you choose a name for the church.
Choosing a name is vital. But, more importantly, are you delivering to the person what you are promising? Are you creating the relationship that goes deeper than a tag line or a logo? All the marketing in the world is useless if, when it is all said and done, no relationships are established and nothing has changed in the person’s mind. If you say you are different, then be different. If you say you are a community of faith, hope and love, then demonstrate those three things in every area. God created us as relational beings. Brands and churches - everything revolves around relationship and relationships are built on trust. Trust comes from doing what you said you are going to do and all of these things take time.
How did you choose the name for your church? Share it with our readers as they continue their church planting journey.
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