Modern, Meaningful Names
When you name a person, an item, or a church, that word or phrase establishes an identity. A name often becomes the first fact a new person learns about an organization. Names provide powerful information. A title can honor the past or declare a future intention. A name can connect you to similar groups or set you apart.
Many churches continue the legacy of one name for decades, even generations. But people found around 1,000 new churches every year. Just as human names have grown more unique over the last century, so have the names of faith communities. We’re going to explore those newer trends. And, if you’re in the exciting but stressful stage of naming a church, you’ll receive some pointers.
Where Church Names Began
Names allow people to differentiate between entities. So, as the Christian faith grew, names for the many churches became a necessity. The most basic and common church names appeared. For many years, congregations by default followed a denomination with a place name or a number. The latter half helped avoid confusion with neighboring congregations. You found “The Presbyterian Church of Newtown.” A year later, a growing population might require the establishment of “Second Presbyterian Church of Newtown.”
These traditions appear in lists of common church names. Over 5,000 institutions in the United States use the name “First Baptist Church.”
The Changing Tide of Names
Now, bolder name choices grow more popular. Some of this shift links to overall naming trends. When you run the only store in a small town, a sign reading “grocery” communicates everything you need. If half a dozen supermarkets open nearby, you need a memorable moniker. With the vast amount of information available through the internet, we encounter so many more organizations. Names help us tell them all apart.
Recent church names shy away from simple descriptions for another important reason. More and more people choose to forgo church attendance. Only 64% of religious Americans belong to a church. When picking a name, religious leaders wish to emphasize the importance of faith communities. Traditional names may feel insufficient. Even among people who grew up with your church’s denomination, in today’s world, it takes more to attract members.
A good name can suggest the value of the congregation. It shares core values and emphasizes the overall power of spirituality. These titles can demonstrate that a church is less focused on the following tradition for tradition’s own sake, and instead focus on uniting Christ’s followers.
Now, let’s think about some naming factors before hitting the trends.
Keep It Short
Even if you want to use many great ideas, a church name needs to stay short. Remember how often people will have to write or say that name. It should fit on signs and printed materials. Plus, people will remember a shorter name more often.
Explore the Connotations
Keep in mind that everybody will think of something unique when they hear your community’s name. When considering a name, ask folks of different ages for feedback. A word that sounds positive to some might feel hokey or have negative slang associations for others. You can also check for unforeseen connotations by running your idea through a search engine.
Stand Out Locally
While you’re performing that web search, also run the name through with your town or state. You might find important geographic information. Imagine naming your church “Assembly of Life” and then discovering a “Life Assembly” down the road. This avoids lots of potential confusion.
Now, on to some modern name trends. You can spot these styles on many church signs near you.
Trend: Place of Solace
Example: Faithful Harbor
“Refuge” or “haven” also fit this theme. These names establish your church as a place of peace and safety. It’s important to avoid vagueness here. Solace names can easily sound inspirational without describing anything about your congregation. Simply adding a location can make these more concrete. Try “Faithful Harbor of Greenville” for added context.
Example: Defender Fellowship
These powerful verbs reckon back to Biblical values. They suggest a congregation of “restorers” or “givers.” Your name can offer potential congregation members a glimpse of the virtues your community aspires to embody.
Trend: All Capital Letters
Switching “Compass” to “COMPASS” creates a powerful visual. However, you probably want to steer clear of this trend. It stands out, but lacks a timeless quality. Remember ten years ago when it was popular to name everything like the iPod? The “iChurch” or “iAssemble” already sound dated. Some cultural trends move too quickly. Ask yourself, will people still appreciate this in fifty years?
Example: Pointe Church
A trend that includes allusions to a “compass” or “journey.” The theme evokes a strong idea, the guidance of God in our lives. Like the place of solace trend, take care to choose descriptive words. A directional name can easily sound vague. These also can sound like a general nonprofit, not necessarily a church.
Example: Lutheran Assembly of Springfield
Old school for sure, but helpful. People familiar with your denomination will discern a lot of information from your name. Especially if your practices do trend more traditional, there’s nothing wrong with communicating who you are.
Trend: Avoiding the Word “Church”
Example: Too many to list!
This trend could hit or miss the mark. You should still identify yourself as a faith community. Words such as “fellowship” or “assembly” can get the point across. Make sure that strangers can tell you apart from a tech startup company. Don’t make anyone guess whether “Catalyst” is a new church or a website developer.
After You Find the Perfect Name
A name is only the beginning. Many more choices follow for a religious community just getting off the ground. Any faith leader establishing or rebranding a church will find their hands full. To seek support and professional guidance on all things public-facing, consider scheduling a free, 30-minute Discovery Call with NewFire Giving.
We offer coaching that can help your community better reach present and future members. On the technical side, we designed all of our software for religious communities. Experts understand what is most important to your congregation—and the most challenging. We can help churches through revitalization or their creation, no matter what name you picked.