Church name trend: less is more?
Forget denominational labels; now you don’t even need to call it a churchBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
The Grove. The Springs. Watershed. Several U.S. Mennonite Brethren church plants from the last few years are modeling a trend in church names that moves away not just from “Mennonite” and “Brethren” but occasionally even the word “church” itself.
Almost every denomination is moving away from such labels in favor of metaphors and images, said Don Morris, director of Mission USA, the church-planting arm of USMB.
The move is largely a result of negative feelings many people have about church institutions and an effort to remove barriers that keep people from coming.
“It is very, very rarely, since I’ve been the director, that a church has used Mennonite Brethren in the name,” Morris said.
Looking back over the past 10 years, he said a majority of new USMB congregations do include “church” in the name, but none in the same period use “Mennonite.” He also noted “Brethren” can be a barrier if it causes women to wonder how they would fit in.
More than anything, church planters prioritize something recognizable that doesn’t seem odd or institutional.
“I want to be real clear: It has nothing to do with any kind of negative response to the word ‘Mennonite,’ ” Morris said. “It’s not that we’re embarrassed by that or don’t want to connect with things Anabaptist. We’re going to promote that heavily once people are inside the church.”
Re-evaluating a church’s name is not limited to one strand of Anabaptism. Riverside (Calif.) Brethren in Christ Church changed its name to Madison Street Church about four years ago.
Pastor Jeff Wright said the tendency toward more oblique, non-religious-sounding names — sometimes even avoiding the word “church” — is part of living within post-Christendom.
Comment on the article Church name trend: less is more?
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.