Friday, April 16, 2010

Church Names and Division

My friend Alan Knox wrote a blog post today about church names. I appreciate the link Alan gave to a list of silly new church names (my personal favorite is number 53).

I have been thinking about church names myself of late.

I've been wondering if church names contribute to the division we see today within the church (I'm referring to division between local bodies as opposed to division within one particular body).

We hear it all the time: "I attend ____ church." "Well, I go to _____ assembly." "We are part of ______ fellowship." "Our family gets together at _____ church of the _____."

I understand that we probably need some way to tell people who we gather with and where this occurs. However, in general it seems that we could just tell others that we are part of "the church." When we claim to be part of "the church," we are saying that we are followers of Christ. Also, when we say this, we are showing that we see ourselves as part of the broader church as opposed to just our local body. It could be a bit confusing at times, but I think in the long run it would be beneficial to the church as a whole.

It is interesting that house churches tend to have no specific names. House church folks usually just say that they gather together at a house. When asked further, they tell where it is and who is part of it. They almost never have a name that shows their separation from other believers.

I have to believe that the church as a whole would be better served if we just abandoned our names that show division. Why can't we all just be "The Church of Jesus Christ"? That sounds nice to me. If people seem confused about where we meet, then we can simply tell them.

Let's do all we can to foster unity of Christ's body. Jettisoning specific names might be a good place to begin.


Jeffrey said...

Glad you got back safely Eric,

As someone who gets together with other believers in a house setting--or occasionally outside if it's nice, I concur with much of what you said. I think that most who have taken that step are pretty aware that the divisions caused by the "names", are a problem. In my experience though, some in home churches have an "us vs. them" mindset too (the "them" being the traditional churches). Some go through a season of it until the wounds are healed; some are called to a ministry of providing a more free option to those who are hurting in the traditional venues--and may not be aware that it's OK to do something different; and some are just plain in sin for creating a division of their own. I guess it's just human nature to be prideful of the decisions one makes.

I completely agree that we--all believers--are in the Church as a whole. On a more localized level, we are the Church in Savannah. Although the scriptures mention people who meet at so-and-so's house, I think, like you mentioned, it's just for informational purposes. Any other division is in my understanding extra-biblical.

Good stuff brother

Eric said...

Thanks Jeff. I like that you said we are "the Church in Savannah."

It is amazing how quick we as Christians fall into the trap of saying, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."