The Why & How of Church Names

The Why & How of Church Names

January 8, 2014 by

Hi, I’m Leah. What’s your name? What’s your church’s name?

Why do I ask? Why do I care? Why should you care?

Because names matter. Your name is what you lead with. As a person, family, school, sports team, store, restaurant, company… and yes, as a church.

Is your church name working well? Or is it time to rethink yours? Let’s consider it.

Why Does a Church Name Matter?

1. Because your people can embrace it.
Your church name—and your related identity/branding—can build significant energy, unity and church spirit (like school spirit!) within your congregation. I played volleyball in junior high. I was so proud to be a Belzer Bruin; I can still chant those Belzer Bruin cheers. I want to have a similar kind of church spirit!

2. Because it’s a great outreach tool.  
Your church name has the potential to build intrigue and start conversations with people beyond your congregation. This may include folks in your local community—and even beyond your local community or online.

Your church name is a strategic outreach tool. A name can cut through the clutter, raise eyebrows and get people asking questions or wanting to learn more about your church, God or faith.

3 Tips for Rethinking Your Church’s Name
Time to rethink your church’s name? Here are three tips to consider:

1. Consider 20 other things first.
Consider 20 other things that you should strengthen at your church ahead of the name change. A name change can be great—but only when it brings to life the vision, energy, experience and intentional ministry that is already rockin’ at your church.

2. Confirm the why.
If a new church name is vital, be sure you—and others at your church—know why. Make it as obvious as possible why renaming is essential given who God is calling your church to reach.

How will you know if renaming is vital? Consider and answer these questions.

  • Does your church name represent who you are?
  • Does it help tell your story? Or God’s story?
  • Does it energize those who call your church home?

To answer these questions, you may need to talk with and gather research within your congregation. Be sure to talk with staff, other leaders and church members.

  • Is your name a barrier to folks you want to connect with in the community?
  • Does it build intrigue with people you want to connect with?
  • Would it encourage conversation or squelch it?

To answer these questions, you may need to talk with and survey folks in your community.

3. Don’t underestimate the process.
Don’t underestimate the significance of a church name and what it might involve to rename. Renaming can be a very emotional process for everyone involved.

If you go for it, carefully consider who you will involve in the naming development and approval process. A select team of staff and lay leaders—often with an external communications team or leader (they can bring objectivity and naming experience)—can drive this effort.

Give this team plenty of time to pray through and work this process. Be intentional about how you will cast vision (probably for many weeks or even months) and communicate about the change with your congregation.

Finally, enjoy the new opportunities you’ll have to reintroduce yourself—as a church body and through individual church members—to your neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. You’ll dream up creative ways to use your new name while you’re serving, reaching out and communicating with your local community.

Photo by Lost Albatross.
Post By:

Leah Norton

Leah Norton is lead communications strategist at Fishhook—an innovative communications and creative services firm called to partner with churches and based in Indianapolis, Ind. An accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, Leah joined Fishhook in 2005 after working in a public relations firm and corporate communications.
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3 Responses to “The Why & How of Church Names”

  • Edwin
    January 12, 2014

    At our church we recently went through this process. I agree that it is a more significant and torturous process that it appears.

    We found that it was important to set expectations from the start. What can and can’t be suggested, what we are aiming for, and most importantly, who will make the decision in the end? We did not handle this as well as we could have. Start with your internal communications before considering the external!

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    • Sean
      January 14, 2014

      I would share one insight from going through this process last year: Be patient and don’t push a name through that is only 80% right. We discussed many decent options at our off-site, but weren’t satisfied, and tabled the discussion. About a month later we realized there was a great and obvious option we had overlooked. This new name was a great fit for our church and where we are headed as a congregation. God has a great name for the work He has started. Be patient and don’t rush ahead with something less than His best.

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  • Joe
    March 7, 2015

    Great post and appreciate the insight. Our pastor recently made the “looking to rebrand our church name” at our recent leaders meeting. As stated above, it is an emotional process (probably more than the pastor anticipated) and doesn’t truly have the support of members to tale the church in a new direction. But these are all great points mentioned above and help shed some light into what to expect through this process.

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