Thursday, March 27, 2008


"Hey, are you the pastor of MoCo? What time is the service on Sunday?" MoCo? Then I realized it's the short form name for Montecito Covenant at Westmont College. It's a better name than Montecito Convenient Church (because we are a convenient 5 minute walk from campus). Does MoCo sound like a church name or a hot drink? Is that good or bad?
My friend Kenton commented that this is primarily a white, middle-class evangelical problem. The African American Churches (historic ones) are named names like "Mt. Ebeneezer Missionary Baptist Church" They are not shy about good, long descriptive names. Liberal churches like names laden with theology "Trinity Episcopal" or "Incarnation Lutheran". And our Roman Catholic friends grab names like "Our Lady of Mercy" or "Queen of All Angels". These churches have names that stick.
But the new batch of names for evangelical churches sounds like an advertising campaign for an energy drink: Rock, Life, Reality, The Edge. Maybe some new names could be : Gottcha! Zinger, or Buzz (for those of us who love prayer and coffee). How important is the name on a church? And how much more important is the genuineness of love and passion for Jesus within the church? The church name (really denominational name) that I think is the best I ever saw was in Kenya. It's called "The Happy Church."


At 10:06 PM , Blogger Isaac Johnson said...

The most interesting named one i recall was started a while back in Chicago; "Jesus People USA". I think we went there once on a mission in Chicago.

The Catholic church has a known attrition problem, so they might not be the best model to follow.

MoCo is fine - if making it more accessable by using more hip names seems like a fine idea provided you dont affect your charter or tenants .

i raise concerns when the fundamentals start to shift to placate a larger audience.

At 10:19 PM , Blogger Dan said...

My favorite naming story for a church is Bethany Church of Alhambra, the church I grew up in. It is said the the newly called pastor to this newly formed congregation made a trip to Israel and upon his return he reported to the congregation that he had a name for them- Bethany. Because that is where Jesus loved to visit!

It seems that the current naming conventions in evangelicalism are in the grand tradition (irony here) of pragmatism that was brought into evangelicalism by such greats in our history as Charles Finny and carried forward in the church growth movement and now being practiced by the emergent church. (what matters is what works and what worked for mom and dad doesn't work for us!)

Even Isaac hints at the underlying pragmatism of the naming conventions when he states, "MoCo is fine- if making it more accessable by using more hip names seems like a fine idea..." even with the proviso about character and tenets.


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