Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Is it wise, or helpful or hurtful or ??? to include the denomination in a local church’s name? For those local churches that are a part of a denomination, many still do include the denominations name, but many are moving away from practice.
In a recent survey conducted by Grey Matter Research Consulting, they raised the question: “Should Protestant churches include or exclude a reference to their denomination in the church name? There’s risk either way...”:
Here is the introduction.
When a church does not reference its denomination in the church name, unchurched people tend to see that church as less formal, rigid, and old-fashioned, but this also makes them feel more uncertain and wonder whether the church is trying to hide its beliefs.
And here is the “on the one hand . . . on the other”, noting the strengths and weaknesses of including the denomination’s name in the local church name.:
On one hand, when people see a church with a denominational reference in its name, they are over four times more likely to perceive that church as formal than if it has no such reference. Denominational references are also three times more likely to make people see that church as old-fashioned, and almost three times more likely to make them feel it is structured and rigid, than if there is no denominational reference in the name. The lack of a denominational reference is also three times more likely to lead people to feel that the church is open-minded.
On the other hand, including a denominational reference is more than twice as likely to help people feel the church is honest. Excluding a denominational reference is more than twice as likely to give people feelings of uncertainty, and almost five times more likely to lead to thoughts that the church may be trying to hide what they believe.
What do you think? How do you read this? What do you consider to be strengths and weaknesses of including (or excluding) the denominational name?
For those who are a part of a denomination, it causes/forces us to think this through carefully before making a change.
And let’s remember, at the end of the day a title or reference must be lived out in the context of life together, relationships, lived under the Lordship of Christ in obedience to His Word. In the providence of God, a title or name might “bring someone in”, but it is the authentic Christian life lived in community that will “keep them there.”