Summary: Koinonia means fellowship - whatï¿½s true fellowship, and how does this biblical word apply to our church
Whatï¿½s in a Name
June 14, 1009
Whatï¿½s in a name? Obviously not everything. The name, Kirk, for example, can mean ï¿½owned by the church.ï¿½ That might describe me, but certainly not Kirk.
Often, we expect names to tell us something about what weï¿½re looking for, what to expect from something, where to look for what we want or need. For example, if weï¿½re looking for toys for our children, the name Toys R Us tells us that weï¿½re probably looking in the right place. If weï¿½re looking for a steak dinner, Lone Star Steakhouse might be a place to start. If we want pancakes for breakfast, International House of Pancakes might be an option. If itï¿½s burgers we want, Burger King, Backyard Burgers, or Burger Street are some choices. You get the idea.
But some things are a bit more obscure. While the name Microsoft might tell us that this company makes software, the names Google or Linux donï¿½t tell us much all by themselves, at least to the uninitiated.
While American Airlines is obviously an airline, Ted might be almost any kind of company, or a nickname for a guy named Theodore. While Las Americas might seem to be obviously Mexican, Quiznos could be anything from Italian food to what it is ï¿½ a sandwich shop ï¿½ or almost anything else.
If weï¿½re looking for some sort of spiritual experience, we might look for things called churches. Of course, they can be all over the map, too, as far as the descriptive quality of their names.
Church names donï¿½t always tell you much. If they have the name of their denomination in them, theyï¿½ll tell you something. Immanuel Baptist Church down the street is a ï¿½ surprise ï¿½ Baptist church. But even that doesnï¿½t tell you everything you might need to know. Is it Southern Baptist, American Baptist, Regular Baptist, Independent Baptist, Free Will Baptist? Each of these Baptist denominations has its own distinctives. Their churches can be very different in style and in theology. You need more than just ï¿½somethingï¿½ Baptist church to tell you much about what the church teaches or believes.
Of course, itï¿½s not essential to have a name that tells all about you, whether youï¿½re a church, a restaurant, a store or some other entity. Yet, I began to think of this idea of names and what they might reveal, when Jim Garrett was presenting his paper at this yearï¿½s conclave, a rewrite of his paper from many years ago, What Is A New Testament Church?
In this paper, he outlined several distinctives of a New Testament church, highlighted from Acts 2:42, which says:
Acts 2:42 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostlesï¿½ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
One of Jimï¿½s subsections, the 2nd characteristic he mentioned about NT churches, is that New Testament churches are an organism, not an organization. As he read this section, I thought about TCF, and about how true this is, and that, through the years as TCF has evolved and changed, thatï¿½s now more true than ever of us ï¿½ weï¿½ve become an organism.
That doesnï¿½t mean TCF was worthless before this was more true of us. On the contrary ï¿½ TCF has almost always had at least some characteristics of an organism more than an organization, but this is more true today then itï¿½s ever been.
But, I also thought more of this idea when we had our 5th Sunday service just a few weeks ago, featuring house churches here at TCF. We heard from four members of the four different house churches currently meeting, and though they had many different things to say ï¿½ there were some common threads, werenï¿½t there? The sense of family, connectedness, relationship - combined with love and support, was a consistent theme with all four who shared that day.
You may or may not realize this, but come this November, TCF celebrates its 40th anniversary. Do you suppose that way back in 1969, when several people, including Nette Hudson, were sitting around deciding what to call their new church, the Holy Spirit was at work with something as seemingly unimportant as a name? Did anyone realize then that TCF would become a New Testament Church, and that now, 40 years later, our name would truly reflect what weï¿½ve become?
Of course our name doesnï¿½t reflect everything about us. You can also buy chicken sandwiches or salads at Backyard Burger. But the fact that we are Tulsa Christian Fellowship is interesting to say the least. I for one do not believe TCF was called TCF by accident. Tulsa Christian Fellowship.
My understanding of the initial naming process for TCF is that most of the original suggested names included some sort of Baptist title, since TCF was founded by a group with Baptist backgrounds. But now, 40 years after that initial season in the life of this body, weï¿½re a church, of course, and we do a lot of things many churches do, some well, perhaps some not as well as weï¿½d like to.