I think we all would agree, names are important. In fact one of the partnership tasks that God gave Adam and Eve was the naming of the animals. Sometimes people end up with unusual names like, Humperdink and Fanny Fangboner of Sandusky, Ohio. Then there was John Senior, Jr. of New York City; Justin Tune, a member of the Westminister Choir; and Mary Louse Pantzaroff — you have to wonder how she ever made it through elementary school.
Last week I ran across a series of blog posts by Neil Cole about the process of naming churches. Some churches have unusual names. Like
Runs Baptist Church in the Aiken SC area, all kinds of comments I could make there but won’t. Holy Three-In-One Lutheran Church of Houston, TX. Sounds like a place for Batman and Robin. If you like really long names you could attend the Greater Evangelistic Cathedral Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Incorporated Vineland, NJ; as opposed to the one that was incorporated in New York? And for country music lovers there is always the Glen Campbell United Methodist Church in PA. Always wondered if he was a Christian.
Neil Cole points out some others like..
* First Church of the Last Chance World on Fire Revival and Military Academy (in Dade City FL). I don’t think I would ever go to a church that puts last chance, fire and military in the same sentence let alone their name!
* Seekers who are just not sure about this whole commitment thing might be interested in Halfway Baptist Church. On the other hand, you have to jump in with both feet to go to Hell Hole Swamp Baptist Church in South Carolina. “Halfway Baptists” not welcome there.
* Little Hope Baptist Church sounds bad until you run into No Hope United Methodist Church. Wow. What do you suppose the tag line is for that church? “Come Experience the Joy of No Hope.” Another church that makes me wonder about tag lines is Hell For Certain, a church in Kentucky. Perhaps something like “Bring the whole family to Hell for Certain, Sundays at 10.”
* One final one that is a personal favorite, the First United Separated Baptist Church. All I can say is it wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time that a Baptist Church separated and called it unity. But this church really needs to focus on one or the other!
In the midst of this UNchristian teaching series, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how people think about us — Calvary Baptist Church. That’s our name, but does it really tell our story? Does it give people any sense of what we value? Does it lift Jesus up? Does our name put up walls that keep people from seeing Jesus?
Names matter — but I will say this — ultimately when it comes to the church the only name that really matters is Jesus. And for something as important as that, letters on a sign matter less than how we live our lives. We should live our lives in such a way that every name we have becomes little more than a nickname — some good, some unusual, some ridiculous — that pales in comparison to THE name. Jesus.
What is your name?