So, I have a big announcement, huge really.
We’ve landed on a name for the church.
Ready? I’m doing a drumroll on my desk but you can’t hear it… space and time and all that…
How did we come up with this? Well it doesn’t exactly fit in the parameters of our original name criteria but we did a lot of market research and had over 250 people take a survey between these three names:
- Prodigal church (my favorite and true love)
- Rivercrest church (a play on the area we’re located in, near Riverside park and within the Creston Neighborhood)
- Found church (and original idea but never one we loved… just another option)
And Rivercrest won, while my love name lost.
Here’s what people said:
“It sounds more “real”. The others seem very specific for only a certain type of worshiper.”
“Found Church seems too simple, and Prodigal Church seems to ‘Jesusy’ to me.”
“The other two names sound excessively “churchy” to me. Someone unfamiliar with church and the Prodigal Son story would most likely not know what the Prodigal name meant. As someone who does not attend church, I would more likely visit a church named Rivercrest. The other names sound trendy to me.”
“I like Rivercrest Church because it is neutral. “found” and “prodigal” have a “born-again” sound to them.”
There were a few wise church people who told us this would be the case from the beginning: people want a neutral name, non churchy name… Prodigal Church might not be the best fit.
But I was in love with the name Prodigal, it described how I felt about God and church, how I thought others would feel as well. It’s simple and redemptive and above all I love it…and my friends (who are like me) love it!
I railed against the idea of a neutral name and wore myself out rallying for my cause, I chatted to random people in line at store about “my church name” and why it was clearly best. I used words like “intentionality,” “purpose,” and “names mean things!”
I performed impassioned monologues for Kel about how choosing a neutral name would be caving to popular opinion early and how I was afraid that this would mean we’d become the church of “what is popular”… which is exactly what the world doesn’t need… what the bible doesn’t call us to. I’m sure I used the phrase “sell-out” a time or two. You know, for good measure.
It all sounded very good and there was truth in it, but in the end I had to concede that the “neutral but nice” name received 20% more votes than my preferred name in a survey that I myself created and publicized. One I thought would only serve to confirm my name…
But it didn’t.
And in the end I learned a hard lesson that needed to be learned early: This is not going to be my dream church.
It’s going to the church that God wants us to plant for the people who need more of Him.
Does this mean Rivercrest Church will be solely “seeker friendly” and won’t deepen my faith or relationship with God?
Not hardly. It just means that it’s NOT my church, it’s The church, which was never about me in the first place.
I learned years ago that I was not called to be a consumer church-goer and I learned about 3 weeks ago that I am not called to be a consumer church-planter either.
If you’ve been in the church long enough you’ve had this thought: “If I ever started my own church we would….”
And this list grows over time. You know exactly how you would do coffee, children’s ministry, worship, leadership, take an offering, give communion, decorate the sanctuary.
And you think… if I were to ever start my church it would like this… and it would be perfect.
And it would be perfect… for you.
But church has never been about making yourself happy, that’s the first step to become a member-focused church, when you base your ideas on “what makes us happy.”
That’s how the currently, literally dying churches got that way. They centered their choices around making themselves happy and they lost touch with their core call: show Jesus to the world, start with your neighborhood.
And 3 weeks into the church I was already starting to move in that direction, how can this church serve me? Be what I want?
And then God Survey Monkey and a few heated marital texting sessions to put me back on track, and early.
Will Rivercrest church contain nuances of my heart and story? Absolutely.
Will Rivercrest church be my dream church? No, but I hope it will be the church we need to plant so the love of Jesus is poured all over the NE side of Grand Rapids.
Lord, help my dream to conform to yours.
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