I realize the name of this article may scare you a bit. I get it. Changing the name of your church may seem like a daunting task. As someone who has pastored an established church that ended up changing its name, I can attest to the fact that it is possible and that it can lead to amazing things in your church.
When I began pastoring Maranatha Baptist Church, it was an established church that had 35 people. Its history was filled with conflict, church splits, divisiveness, and little kingdom impact. We ended up changing the name to LifeSpring Baptist Church with 98% vote of approval.
In the months that followed, we saw an increase in visitors, new life in the church, and a renewed commitment to effectiveness. In a period of 18 months, we grew to over 130 people. Before the name change, the average age of the church was around 70 and we only had a handful of kids and teens. Within several months we had an influx of young families, a growing youth program, and over 35 children in the church. There was life and energy that had been missing for years.
While there were many factors that led to that turnaround, I am convinced that changing the name of the church played a big part.
Here are some reasons why you may want to consider changing your church’s name.
1- Your church’s name may be too geographically narrow.
If the name of your church is tied to a small community, a specific street, or even a neighborhood, it may be worth considering changing the name of your church. It’s possible that those who live outside of the area designated in your church’s name may think the church is not for them. A broader name may help those outside of your church’s precise location understand that the church is for them. When your church was named 50-100 years ago, things were different. People when to the closest church and didn’t drive very far. That is no longer the case.
2- Your church’s name may have negative connotations.
I have worked with a lot of churches that have a scarred past. If you talk to those who have been in the church’s community for a long time, they will tell stories of church conflict, limited impact, division, and decline. If this is the history of your church, a name change may help signify the church’s commitment to growth and impact.
3- Your church’s name may have a negative (even unfair) connotation.
I realize this is a bit subjective, however, people will always think something about your church based on the name. Traditional-sounding names may not be best for a blended or more contemporary church. For instance, Mount Calvary Baptist Church sounds very old and traditional. It may not be, but that is going to be the assumption some people have. It may be worth changing your church’s name to help remove the stigma.
4- Your church’s name may need to be changed to signify a new direction or new life in your church.
Some churches are tired of struggling, tired of ineffectiveness, and tired of going through the motions of church. They want a new start. Changing the name of the church may communicate that there is new life and a new direction. Those who would never visit your church in the past may consider a visit now to see what’s happening.
Will there be those who criticize your decision to change your church’s name? Absolutely. Most all of the complaints I heard were rooted in emotion and nostalgia, not in a desire to impact the community for Christ. People had been married in our church. Funerals had been held in our church. People had given money to the church. There were those who even helped build the church. However, the church was dying a slow death and it had lost its impact. Changing the name helped refocus the church on the mission God had given us.