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Summary: Why should we change our church name?

Changing the Church Name January 22, 2006

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Last week I let you know that we are going to enter a process of changing the church name. Today I’m going to speak about why change the church name, and today after the pot-luck we will have a time for question and answer and prayer. At the annual meeting, we will vote on the concept of changing the name. If we have a positive vote, we will begin taking submissions for possibilities of a new name. Once we feel like they are all in, we’ll have a straw vote to narrow the choices down to three and then we will vote on a new name.

Over the last few years, many churches that we are connected to have changed their names.

I think that the first was Don Boyd’s church which changed its name from The Church of the Crusaders to Bloor-Landsdowne Christian Fellowship. The reason for the change might be obvious to many of you. The crusades of the Holy Land by European Christians was likely one of the darkest days of the Church, and although evangelicals successfully renewed the word “crusade to mean an evangelistic campaign rather than a military campaign, the rest of the culture has reverted back to crusade’s original meaning. In a multicultural neighbourhood, you aren’t going to make any friends by having your name refer to a time when Christians were killing Moslems, Jews and Orthodox Christians.

Halleluiah Filipino Baptist Church changed their name to Halleluiah Fellowship Baptist Church to reflect their desire to reach the neighbourhood and not just Filipinos.

Danforth Gospel Temple is in the midst of changing their name to Danforth Community Church. They realized that the people in the community that they were trying to reach didn’t relate their name to a Christian church – the name may have spoke to Christians in the Pentecostal tradition, but to no one else.

Keele Street Church of Christ changed their name to Keele Street Christian Church because of confusion with the Toronto church of Christ which is an extremely contoling cult group that targets U of T students.

Mississauga Gospel Temple has change their name twice recently; first to MGT Family Church and now to Portico with the tag line, A Community Church

So why change the name of Runnymede Baptist Church? Is it peer pressure? Well, no, I’d like us to change the name even if no one else ever did.

What a name does – it identifies who we are to ourselves, it identifies who we are to those around us.

The hurdle of the word “Baptist”

One of our main reasons for wanting to change the name is that the word “Baptist” is either meaningless to unchurched people , it has negative connotations for those who are not Baptist.

I found an article in the Dallas Morning News that speaks to this:

“Baptists’ ad highlights social efforts

Leading Baptist group, often known for what it opposes, runs a TV ad showing what it does

10:50 AM CST on Saturday, January 7, 2006

By JEFFREY WEISS / The Dallas Morning News

Some fans watching this week’s bowl games caught an unexpected message between the touchdowns and the beer ads: 30 seconds about the kinder, gentler side of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Officials at the nation’s largest Protestant denomination have publicly worried for years about their image. Southern Baptists, they fret, are best known for what they’re against: abortion, homosexuality, women pastors, dancing and Disney.

The new ad is an attempt to shift attention to what Baptists are for – without disavowing those controversial positions, Baptist officials say.”

When I hear the word Baptist in the news, I often wince because I know it is going to be something Jerry Falwell said…

If people have any image of what a Baptist is, it is often negative – thus the Baptist jokes.

A man gets on a bus and sits down beside a woman, she says “Oh, you must be a Baptist minister!” He says, “No Ma’am, I’m just in a bad mood.”

Culturally, Baptists are more known for what they are against than what we are for. When I was a teen we used to say, “Don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls who do.”

Baptist are also known for divisiveness…

You get three Baptists in a room and you’ll have five opinions

We joke that our main way to start new churches is to split old ones.

Baptist on a desert island?

Now there is much that is good to be said about Baptists. There are some admirable personalities who are Baptists – Jimmy Carter, Billy Graham.

When it comes to the Baptist distinctive, I am Baptist through and through – strong belief in the Word, believer’s baptism, congregational leadership, and autonomy of the local church…

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