I was with a group of church planters recently, and the conversation around the table focused on naming the church. Most of the planters had already named their ministries, but a few were still in limbo… which can be a very good place to be.

So, if you haven’t yet named your church, or you’re considering renaming your existing congregation, ask yourself two questions: (1) What will the name of your church communicate to your community? (2) Will the name of your church impose limits on your ministry? 

Turns out that there are three “kinds” of church names: names that attempt to communicate what the church is all about, insider names, and names that limit the church’s potential.

For a moment, try to remove everything in your head that is church, church history, or even Christian. Try to put yourself in the shoes of an unchurched twenty-four year old who drives down “church row” and sees several different church signs. What do you think the church names communicate to her/him? (Each is the name of a real church.)

  • St. Paul’s Church
  • Steele Street Church
  • Redeemer’s Church
  • Church of Joy
  • First Church
  • All Saints Church
  • Smith Chapel
  • Come and Go Church
  • Love and Truth Church
  • Off the Grid Church

In the examples, Redeemer’s Church is fraught with “insider” language. Almost no one uses the word “redeem” in conversation, and when it is used there’s typically something about coupons going on. Steele Street Church is a fine name … right up until the time when the church chooses to relocate, or as in the case of one church I know of, until the city changes the name of the street (or subdivision, etc.). Several of the churches in the list were intentionally chosen to reflect the ethos of the congregation. One church I’m familiar with chose River of Hope and uses the slogan “Hope Floats” to reflect their welcoming culture, especially to those who have little or no hope. I’ll let you decide for yourself about the rest of the names.

When it comes time to name or rename your church, reflect on what the new name communicates to those who aren’t yet a part of your church … and perhaps especially to those who have little or no church experience, know little about church history, or who are not yet even Christian.

Question: What do you think the names in the list communicate to those who have never been to church? What church names have you seen that are interesting? What do they communicate? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.