I had a conversation with my family recently about the name change history of our church fellowship.
Steph said, I never heard of churches changing their names until I was involved with ours. I responded, You haven’t been part of non-traditional church until ours.
Payton walked into the room and when she figured out what we were talking about she said, don’t change the name CrossHope Chapel because it sounds like a wedding venue. Steph and I laughed because I was just lamenting that I am getting tired of filtering calls from brides wanting to rent the Chapel for their wedding and reception.
You are going to roll your eyes, but this whole conversation came up because I made an off-hand comment that I was not completely content with the “Chapel” in our church name.
I explained that church names are generally based on either the building/location or the people/purpose and I have been wondering lately if ours is better with a building-based name or a people-based name.
Building-based church names are exactly the kind of church names Steph grew up with in traditional Southern Baptist circles. These churches were founded and centered around the building and the location that it is in. They are named First Baptist Church of Downtown or Church of God North Road or Calvary Chapel Westside.
People-based church names tend to emphasize the people and their purpose as a church and usually use the term “Fellowship” or “Assembly” or even the word “Church” with some type of qualifying definer. They are named Trinity Fellowship or Mission Harvest Assembly or Open Bible Church.
Names provide an identity within the community and on the internet, like for website domains and social media addresses, so I think a general rule of thumb is the simpler the better. A church name may have some weight with one’s decision to attend, especially if they are looking for a name familiar to a denomination, but I think people care more about testimonies from those who attend or what the church actually believes.
When we first started meeting in our home we went by Apostles Fellowship, but we used the name mainly for our website domain and bank account. And if I recall, none of us were very attached to it, sometimes referring to it as being very formal sounding, which was contrary to the intention because I thought use of that name would convey that we fellowship like the Apostles’ did – in a very relaxed casual style.
When we moved out of our house into the Schillinger Road location we changed the name to West Mobile Bible Fellowship. We soon learned that the name West Mobile Bible Fellowship was getting confused with West Mobile Baptist Church when it came to our mail, our LifeWay orders, and even our members who got visits from West Mobile Baptist Church ministers at the hospital. By the end of 2014 we decided it would best to change West Mobile Bible Fellowship to CrossHope Chapel.
We have used CrossHope Chapel as our identifying church name for the past four years, and while I would be happy to use it until the Lord returns, I am wondering what you think?
I do not feel compelled to change our church name again but if we were I would want it to fit for us regardless of meeting location. Meaning, the name would have to rightly identify us if we ever go back to meeting in a home or if we have to adjust to a bigger location.
I really, really like our current logo of the encircled cross and Bible. I’m guessing you all are happy with that, too, since we talked about that a few months back. I love our logo and feel it fits with our fellowship. I really don’t foresee needing or wanting to change it. (You can read about our logo at Dumping the Dove.)
I remember after we had a conversation about the dove logo vs the encircled cross and Bible logo, wondering if we needed to talk about the name, too. The thought has been on my mind off and on since wondering if we should or if we want to change from “Chapel” to “Fellowship.”
When I am out in public and someone asks, What church do you pastor? I always respond, CrossHope Chapel and usually that leads to explaining where it is located. Last week while at the car dealership, and answering that question, it occurred to me that you all likely answer the same way when asked, Where do you go to church?
So, let me ask you, do you like replying CrossHope Chapel or do you feel like you have to explain beyond that or do you think it really doesn’t matter to you?
Would you rather respond with CrossHope Fellowship?
Would you rather be able to respond with some other name like Calvary Fellowship or Calvary Bible Fellowship? (Yes, I like the name Calvary and think that if you all would prefer something other than the compound word CrossHope I would be quick to support the word Calvary in a church name. Besides summing up the whole gospel message, just saying the word Calvary has an impact.)
I would like to hear what you think, even if you are on this email list but do not attend, please let me know if you think the use of Chapel is fine or if the use of Fellowship may be preferred.