Church Names and What They Convey
A person can tell a lot about a church by the name and other things on the marquee. Today, religious leaders do not give as much attention to naming their churches as was done in the past.
The name of a church matters, and it should convey what the church is all about. In the past, the name of the church was a sermon within itself. Churches were named after people and places in the Bible. Today's churches do not follow that pattern. However, there is a message in the names of some churches. Unfortunately, the name is vague and uninviting.
Denominations Omitted in Church Names
The name of the church should tell people something about the church. Books, movies, and songs have something in the title to let the public know what they are all about. The same should be done with the name of a church.
At one time the denomination was in the name of the church even though there are no denominations in the Bible. Modern-day churches deliberately omit the denominational affiliation. A lot of churches today do not have the words Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, or Episcopal in their name. They want people to know that their church is non-denominational. In fact, some churches have the word non-denominational in their names.
Denominational names are still dominant among some church titles. The most denominational name is "Baptist." However, there are dozens of different Baptist denominations. Therefore, the term is too generic to let people know whether the church is American Baptist, National Baptist, Southern Baptist, Free Will Baptist or some of the other Baptists. There is a church in King Williams County, Virginia named Baptist Baptist Church.
According to a survey conducted by Grey Matter, people searching for a church say they feel more welcomed and more likely to attend a church without a denomination in the title. Ron Sellers, president of the research group said people are also more likely to trust a church with a denomination in the title.
Sellers described the situation as a two-edged sword. If the denomination is in the title, the newer generation believes the church is old-fashioned or too formal for them. They do not want to be put in a box.
Millennials and Generation X don't want a traditional church that forces them to abide by archaic rules. Right or wrong, that's what they think about Baptist churches.
Even though the word "Community" is not a denomination, younger people rather choose a church with that word in the title.
Churches With Adjectives and Numbers
When churches split whether amicably or in anger, the new church sends a message in its title to the old church. They keep the keyword but they put an adjective in front of it. Such names include the following:
- Better Assembly of God
- New Mountaintop Worship Center
- Wonderful Message of the Cross
- Greater Love Center
It is not the case all the time, but newer churches keep the core name of the former church and a number is added to the old church. That's why numbers are put in front of the original names, such as First Antioch Baptist Church, First Shiloh Baptist Church, etc.
By the way, "first” appears in 21% of Presbyterian church names. 12% in Baptist, 10% in Methodist, and only 3% of Lutheran church names.
Location In a Church's Name Might Be Confusing
The church's location is part of the name of a lot of churches, but that is a mistake. It becomes confusing later when the church moves to a new location. In Richmond, Virginia where this writer lives, Broad Rock Baptist Church is not on Broad Rock Boulevard. It is on Walmsley Boulevard. However, Chicago Avenue Baptist Church is on Broad Rock Boulevard and not on Chicago Avenue. Then there is Third Street Baptist that is not on Third Street.
Every city in the country has a First Baptist Church. It becomes confusing when a city has more than one First Baptist. A survey reveals that First Baptist Church is the most popular name in the United States. There are about 5,115 places with that name
Sometimes the name itself tells the denomination. Since there are so many First Baptists, some of them have the locations in their names to help visitors locate them. For instance, First Baptist Church of Midlothian gives a big clue to where the church is located.
To get an idea of the many different names of churches, watch the church closing list as the names scroll across the television screen in inclement weather.
The Word 'Church' Is Eliminated from the Title
In order to appeal to the younger generation, the word "church" isn't used too often in the name anymore. Churches are choosing non-traditional names to appeal to a younger demographic. Therefore, not only is the denomination missing from the title, but the word "church" is also omitted.
Only about 2/3 of churches use the word “church.” Other popular words include center, fellowship, chapel, assembly, ministries, ministry, temple, tabernacle, and iglesia.
Churches did not have names for the first three centuries of Christianity because people worshipped in homes and in hiding.
Catholic churches are named after saints and martyrs. Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the Basilica of Saint Paul in Rome are some of the oldest churches. They date back to the 300s. That was the time Christians began to build churches and give them names.
You will never find a Catholic church named after a street or one with a number in its title.
Today's church names let visitors know something about the place of worship. For instance, words such as worship, fellowship, community, and Bible teaching indirectly tells the public what goes on within the walls of the church.
It is not unusual for some churches to include the church's doctrine in their names such as Christ, Life, Grace, Love, Salvation, Victory, and Faith.
Mountains are favorite names for churches.
- Mount Tabor
- Mount Nebo
- Mount Gerizim
- Mountain of Blessings
- Mount Sinai
- Mt. Carmel
It is easy to find a church in any city that is named after a biblical person. Some examples include the following.
- St. Paul
- St. Mark
- St. Peter
- St. Matthew
Catholic churches tend to be named after biblical people. This does not mean that other denominations don't use the same names.
Odd Names for Churches
There are some odd names for churches. Some of them sound like they should be titles of romance novels.
- Burning Hearts
- Door of Hope
- Epiphany Station
- Liberating Spirit
- Mercy Road
- New Horizons
- Second Chance Church
- Shepherd of the Prairie
- The Nest of Love
- The Refuge
- Word Aflame.
Some churches sound like they should be the names of apartment developments or gated communities.
- Grace Pointe
- The Crossing
- Prairie Heights
- The Bridge.
- City Point
- City Church
- Branches Run
The name of some churches sounds like the titles of a motivational workshop.
- Champion Life Church
- Action Church
- Church on the Move
- Empowerment Center
- No Limits Fellowship
- Potential Church
- Way of Life
- Run for Your Life Chapel
- Elevation Church
A Few Unique Church Names
If you check the yellow pages of the telephone directory, you will see some unique church names. The following names give a lot of information even though a denomination and the word church are not included.
- Behind the Veil
- Love Lifted Me
- Ministry Without Walls
- The Message of the Cross
Churches Named After People
It is not often, but it does happen when churches are named after people who started the church or the first pastor. One such church that comes to mind is Gillis Memorial Christian Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
It was formerly Gillis Methodist Church. Then the name was changed to Gillis Memorial Church before its name was changed to what it is today. The church was named after its founder George Gillis Russell in 1860.
Feel free to list the name of your church in the comment section below especially if your church name is unique.
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