And so the current effort to come up with relevant, cool, enticing, and even provocative names for a new church leaves me scratching my head. Now many of my much cooler friends on Facebook actually work for churches with these names, and so in an effort to not offend my dedicated brethren I'm not going to name some of them here. However... I did a google search of "Trendy Church Names," and came up with a couple of good lists. You can blame them if your cool church name is listed. Scan down through them, you'll see some familiar names here:
From "Real" to "Celebration" to "Kinetic" to "New Beginnings" some on the list at the churchventure blog start to sound familiar. And to demonstrate that someone had at least 1 Greek lesson in their life I have to note #3 on this list, "Eklesia Church [sic]." Nothing like a little redundancy, but again, it must be cool! I wonder if they offer first time visitors some "Soda CocaCola"? And in both of these lists there are names that are definitely interesting and attention-grabbing. Some evoke thoughts of positive change in a person's life. Some offer a sense of direction in a world that doesn't offer one. And except for some dopey ones like "Scum of the Earth" and "Guts Church" (See the first link above), most are not offensive or completely off the wall.
But are they biblical? Do they emphasize man's condition or God's Kingdom on earth? In one of the lists of trendy names I saw ONLY ONE reference to the Spirit. But I'm still looking for a reference to Jesus who said, "Upon this rock I will build My Church" (Mt. 16:18). Does this strike anyone else as bothersome, or is it only the 50 and above crowd who would notice it?
I try to imagine Jesus saying, "Upon this rock I'll build 'The Flood.'" Or, "Upon this rock I will build my 'Warehouse.'" Would He have said that the gates of Hades will not prevail against Passion City? Do you think we would have got the "NorthPointe, CenterPoint, OceanPoint, MidPoint, LifePoint, MercyPoint? What is the point of all these names that don't mention the founder and central focus of the Church?
Two thousand years after its founding, the Church must still be about Jesus! Why take His name out of the name of the "Church"? The idea that to be relevant and cutting edge we need to "introduce Jesus slowly" or behind the scenes is offensive! Why not state up front what we are about, or who we belong to, if indeed we are really about Christ and belong to Him? The Gospel is still relevant, and it still changes lives. People are still called to make a decision to put Christ first.
Paul mentions the "Churches of Christ" in Rom. 16:16; and the Church of God in 1 Cor. 1:2. I take note of the fact that the term "body" is used often in the New Testament. Yet the emphasis is still being the "body of Christ." Rom. 12:5 says, "so we, who are many, are one body in christ, and individually members one of another" (NASB). 1 Cor. 12:27 says, "Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it." Eph. 4:12 notes the biblical leadership that will build up the "body of Christ." One more will suffice. Col. 3:15 says, "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body; and be thankful" (NASB).
There are other excellent examples of Biblical names for a Church. Yet they would in context emphasize the founder (Jesus) and the purpose (worshiping and serving). Because the emphasis in these biblical names for the church points upward to Christ! We are the called out (ok, I remember ekklesia too!), a part of His body, and work to promote and advance His cause here on earth until He comes.
Is this what the trendy names suggest? It seems to me that most of them say, "Hey, your life is screwed up, but we'll make you feel better about it (without offending you, or boring you with a lot of talk about the Bible). Yet the argument is, the old names associated with "church" put people off, and their preconceived ideas about the church will keep them away.
In the first century, being a part of the Church that Christ founded could easily get you killed. At the time of the founding of the Church, talking about that Nazarene named Jesus went against the religious and social understandings of the day. When the body of Christ first came into existence, people made a life changing, and occasionally life ending decision to become a part of it, because Jesus was worth it to them! It was not intellectually or academically acceptable to follow the teachings of Jesus! It was not materialistically profitable to 'leave the boats and become a fisher of men.' But people did it. They were called to repent, and change their life and thinking.
Some rejected Jesus (see Jn. 6:66) and did not follow Him any longer. But Jesus did not change His mission or His message. Paul noted that some fell away, wanting to have their "ears tickled" in 1 Tim. 4:3, 4. Some aren't going to like our message either, no matter how we package it with relevancy, being cool, and avoiding the controversial.
I'm thankful for today's modern pioneers of the Gospel. Indeed these present-day evangelists have gifts from God that can be used in significant, even great ways. I echo Paul's prayer in 2 Thess. 3:1 that the "word of the Lord may spread rapidly..." I heard a long time ago, "Methods are many, principles are few; methods always change, but principles never do." Don't change the principles! The Church is all about Christ. It must remain focused on Him and His Word if it is going to continue to change lives today. Don't be ashamed of the "Church." Spread it! Advance it! It's still about Jesus!
C'mon, Murphy. Let's go outside!