whats in a name

What’s In A Name – Everything Apparently

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership 1 Comment

Do church names really matter that much? After all, as long as people know that it’s a church, that’s the most important part, right?

As it turns out, your church’s name does matter. It’s not enough to just be First along with your denomination. Potential new members are looking for more.

Do you need to change your church’s name? Probably not, but if you’re planting a new church or membership is abysmally low, it might be worth trying something different.

The Switch To Something Different

There are several new trends among church names that are quite different than traditional naming conventions. Thom Rainer put together a list of the new common names that are starting to stand out. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are commonalities. The key is those names are different and that alone makes them stand out.

A few standouts from the list include:

  • Use of Redeemer and Redemption
  • Using Point, Pointe and Life
  • Inspiring words, such as Potential, Epic and Innovate
  • Sounding new with the word New
  • Using Latin or Greek words

Skipping Denominational Identifiers

Something that has become much more common among church names is the absence of any denominational identifiers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the rise of nondenominational Christians are seeking like-minded churches. Between 2000 and 2016, the amount of “nones” (slang for nondenominational) has doubled from 10% to 20%.

By skipping the denomination in the church name, the church seems more welcoming to these nones. Of course, it’s a good idea to put your denomination on your church’s website if there is one. The only problem is if your church’s name doesn’t have a denomination in it, people looking for a specific denomination might skip over you.

Sounding Like Something New

Traditional church names all have one thing in common – they sound older. While your church may only be a year old, something like First Presbyterian sounds much older than New Hope or Redemption Road. For church seekers who want a more modern church, church names matter.

A newer, hipper sounding name also implies a fresher and more modern approach. This could include interactive sermons, an engaging online presence, a mix of new and traditional music and better technology. While that isn’t always the case, someone seeking a new church is more likely to give a church with a newer sounding name a chance.

Different Names Are More Appealing

There’s something exciting about a church name that’s instantly inspiring. Ridgeline Church in Asheville, NC took a modern approach to naming. They wanted the name to sound more appealing and Ridgeline is not only modern, but fits the area well. They continued with the unconventional naming trend by naming their Greenville worship Thrive Church.

The word “thrive” is instantly engaging and makes worship sound fun and important. When trying to appeal to a younger audience, this could make all the difference.

Appear More Welcoming

A survey by Grey Matter Research found that churches without their denominations in the name seem more welcoming to the unchurched. However, the exact opposite was true for those who identified as Protestant. One thing that stand out even more in the survey was that half of all people surveyed said church names do matter.

It’s important to name your church based on your target audience. For instance, if you’re in a community with older adults who identify with set denominations, it’s better to put your denomination in the name somewhere, though you can still incorporate more modern naming conventions too.

If you’re trying to appeal to a younger or nondenominational audience, skip the denomination. However, make sure if you do have a denomination, you make it clear on your website and social media profiles.

The key is to be clear about what your church is about. Doing this helps your church appear more welcoming to those who fit best in your church family.

Want to help potential new members learn more about the story behind your church’s name? Get your church online today and share your story with the world.

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Comments 1

  1. What does UMC Western NC Conference think about a non denominal naming?
    Even if identified on our Website.

    Will we no longer be required to send apportionments? As a nominal member, we have difficulty understanding the details where these funds are or have been used.

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