Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Open Letter to the Church in Savannah

"To the Church in Savannah,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters Christ, we are united in Jesus through what He has accomplished on the cross. Because of the good news of the forgiveness of sins through His shed blood, we are made into new creations by the grace of God. We are no longer of the world; rather, God has radically changed us into something new: redeemed followers of the King.

Because of His gracious salvation, we are one in Christ. As the Trinity is united, so should we be united. Paul says as much in Ephesians 4:4-6, 'There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.'

We should remember that during Christ's High Priestly Prayer, He prayed for our unity. In John 20:20-23, Jesus says, 'I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.'

Jesus Christ, our Head, desires, expects, and commands that we be united. This unity is not some sort of theoretical unity (often referred to as 'united in Spirit'). This is real unity. This is allowing nothing to come between us because Christ has united us.

In light of this, let's do something tangible that will show our unity in Christ to our community. Let's change our name to The Church in Savannah. Every local body of believers would get rid of its current name (such as Providence Baptist, Grace Presbyterian, Zion Lutheran, The Church on the Hill, Tapestry Fellowship, The Community at the Coast, etc.) in favor of The Church in Savannah.

If you believe you need to keep your church sign (if you have one), go ahead - just change the name.

Paul wrote to churches in entire cities, not to individual small groups within cities. For example, Paul wrote this in I Corinthians 1:2, 'To the church of God that is in Corinth.' In Romans 1:7 we read, 'To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.' Colossians 1:2 says, 'To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae.'

Let's truly be united like Paul's greetings imply.

Think about the unity this would show to the world. The lost would see the signs and/or learn the new name and would thus know that similar things were happening amongst these various groups of people. What things? Things such as sacrificial love for one another, teaching of the scriptures, edification of the body, celebration of the ordinances - all for the purpose of God's glory.

If we are the one, united church, then our name should show it - tangibly.

I'm sure that when you all talk about it you will agree. Just get rid of your name that shows why you are different and grab onto the name that shows what you really are - The Church in Savannah.

God bless,

Eric Carpenter"

(O.K., I haven't sent this letter, but I would really like to do so. Do you think anyone will take me up on it?)


Aussie John said...


I'm afraid, as attractive as it sounds, pigs might fly before it happens, UNLESS, of course, the Holy Spirit moves in an amazing way (as He has done in days gone by) in the community.

Wow! Providence Baptist wouldn't be able to be critical of the theology of Grace Presbyterian,and Zion Lutheran couldn't criticise the mode of the Lord's Supper practiced by The Church on the Hill, who would have no objections to Tapestry Fellowship, who would have no reason to be jealous of The Community at the Coast.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that really happens, but...........!

All one in Christ! Now that does have a Biblical ring to it!

Eric said...


I know it sounds a bit idealistic and fanciful, but it would be so wonderful! What a message it would send to the world and the church. Sadly, we tend in our flesh to cling to what divides instead of what unites.

A real question: Would ANY of the hundreds of local churches in Savannah even consider it? I wonder.

Norma Hill - aka penandpapermama said...

Yes, send it out! Can we borrow it for our communities, too?

Don't know if any of them would take you up on it - but it might make some squirm (squirming is good, right?) - and wouldn't it be just too awesome if even one of them did?

You have my "go for it!" vote :-)

Eric said...


Let's both do it and see what happens! I'm guessing it will cause squirming - good.

Church names are just another tradition that folks hang onto. Some of them would die before changing. Oh well, it's worth a try.

David Rogers said...

In Spain, a few years back, we had a campaign for all the Evangelical churches to put up a sign (not necessarily replacing their old signs) that said simply "Iglesia Evangélica," with a previously agreed upon logo. Not all did it, but a good many did, perhaps the majority. This is not as radical as what you suggest here, but, in my opinion, was a step in the right direction.

Eric said...


As I was writing this post (and acknowledging in my mind that local churches aren't going to get rid of their names) I thought about the more realistic idea of some other type of sign they could place outside showing overall unity. What you have suggested from Spain sounds good. What was the eventual outcome? Did it have any influence on overall unity?

James said...

However. If you change your name, to a name that is no longer unique to yourself, you have to shed your 501(c)3. Or, incorporate together under a new governing body that oversees the rest..

tsk tsk tsk... Didn't you know sectarianism was profitable?

Eric said...


I hadn't thought about that aspect of things. I suspect that the main reason for keeping names is tradition. People want to show why they are different. How we should long for unity!

Scott Reeder said...

Praise God ! Excited to read this post. I had this same vision about two months ago while preaching through Paul's letter to the churches in the region of Ephesus. Take a listen at about 23 minutes.


Preached again on ONE BODY out of chapter four this past Sunday.


I am seriously going to present a plan to the churches in our community for this. Pray for us.

God Bless my brother ><> Scott

Eric said...


It would really be awesome if local churches would decide to do this. If not, then maybe they would at least agree to come up with some sort of slogan they could agree on - like "Jesus is Lord!" - to put on or near their other church sign. I think this would have a tangible effect on both the community and the churches. Let me know how it goes.

David Rogers said...


It's hard to say what the outcome of putting the signs up was. I think it was more of a symbol and expression of the heart of those who sponsored the effort than anything else.

One thing I have noticed (and this may get off-topic a little bit) is that Evangelical unity in Spain is not as difficult as in the US (though there are many exceptions to this) because they are united in their differentiation from (if not opposition to) the Roman Catholic Church. Nothing to unite us like a common "enemy," huh?

That is not to say that all Spanish Evangelicals are rabid anti-Catholics. But, from a more pragmatic (there's our word again) point of view, I think the fact that they are a small minority in the midst of another religious group that is the overwhelming majority in their particular context contributes some toward their solidarity with one another.

Eric said...


That makes sense. I hadn't thought about the minority context.

Although this particular post was about 50% tongue-in-cheek, it would be very nice for a change to see evangelicals rally around Who unites us as opposed to what divides us. We need to do something tangible. I'm not sure what that is, but I would love to see something.

Sadly, it seems that those who cave on the gospel are more willing to unite with one another than are those who hold to gospel truth.

Tim A said...

The name on the front of the building is only one of many symptoms of a greater underlying spiritual false dependency - or idol, that is held in greater loyalty than scripture itself. To eliminate one of many symptoms and not address the idol itself will allow continued genuflecting to the idol, just with a different posture maybe.

In my opinion the idol is the assumption that every believer needs a hired man to refer to as "your pastor". Now a crowd of people is required in one room in order to pay him a full salary, a special building is now required to house the crowd, and all the other accessories are to be competitive with every other groups of saints so as to attract more givers into the salary and building pot. The scripture that talks about "refusing the right to be paid" or "meeting my own needs" must be explained away.

Lets deal with the heart issues, not just the externals. What comes out of the heart is what defiles a man.

Eric said...


I agree with you completely that the heart issue is the key.

I would love to see a tangible step that would show the condition of the heart. Sadly, I'm certain that (in showing their hearts) most local churches would reject this idea outright.

Tim A said...

In most situations you are right that if a whole church is approached and expected to understand, repent, and embrace the transformation, it is unlikely the whole group would move forward together. God can do it, but it seems unlikely to us. However, we must:
1. Remember we are only the messenger, not the transformer. We must be faithful to deliver the message to anyone or any group if the opportunity is given.
2. We must not prejudge outcomes, no matter what we hear or no matter what indicators suggest. This all the same with giving out the gospel to unbelievers.
3. Jesus set the example for us in going to the heart issue first. We must follow.