The president of the Southern Baptist Convention has proposed considering a name change for the SBC. It’s not the first time such a change has been considered. Since the denomination started expanding beyond the Southeast and Southwest after World War II, there have been suggestions the name should be changed to reflect a more national network of churches.

Every time a name change has been suggested, the proposal has been shot down; and I think I know why: Nobody ever came up with that killer name that made everyone else say, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”

The problem is that most of the good names that come easily to mind already are taken. Those Northern Baptists grabbed the moniker American Baptist long ago. Likewise, the SBC can’t become National Baptists because that name is already in use. It’s not likely that most Southern Baptists would claim the name Progressive even if that one hadn’t been claimed. We SBCers may be many things, but progressive isn’t the first adjective that comes to mind. We have to have a committee meeting to change the time of the covered-dish supper.

We could try United Baptist Convention, but I’m afraid it would make informed observers snicker. I thought of some possibilities such as Those Preachin’ Baptists or That Big Baptist Group, but I just don’t see getting a majority vote on those suggestions. It could be that we’ll opt for The Denomination Formerly Known as Southern Baptists and use a cool logo as a substitute for the name. Or not.

Denominations aren’t the only groups that might think of a name change now and then. I’m sure the folks at Boring United Methodist Church (in Boring, M.D.) or at Weedville Community Church might have considered a change at some point. Same thing with the folks at Half Way Baptist Church (Wonder what the other half is?) or at the Original Church of God in Louisville, Kentucky. (All this time I thought the original would have been in Israel, but apparently not.)

A lot of pastors are facing the name problem these days as they plant churches and try to find just the right label that will make folks say, “Look, Maude. There’s the Super-Duper Mega Community Church over there. With a name like that, they’ve got to have compelling music, great preaching and some cool banners and T-shirts. Let’s give it a try this Sunday!”

The problem is there can only be so many Cross Pointe or North Pointe or South Pointe churches before you feel overwhelmed—and what’s the pointe of that? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

So maybe we should think bigger—such as all those NFL stadiums—and start naming churches based on corporate sponsors. Just think of the possibilities: LifeWay Baptist Church; Zondervan Community Church; Thomas Nelson Presbyterian. If we move beyond the religious marketplace, the possibilities are endless: GEICO Methodist Church (to insure your eternal future); Gerber Lutheran Church (the nurseries are fabulous); even the Apple Church (the tithes are higher, but the facilities are really cool).

If Chik-Fil-A ever gets in the naming business, however, it will have to be for a Seventh Day Adventist Church. After all, Chik-Fil-A isn’t open on Sundays.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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