What's in a Name?

It's a great time to be on staff at Fellowship Bible Church North. If you hadn't heard, FBCN is right smack dab in the middle of a huge relocation project. We're moving a 5000 member church a mile and a half north of its current location. The church is currently landlocked, and can't add on the needed childrens and youth facilities it needs to continue to provide a safe and inviting place for people to connect to God. So, we're packing up and moving north.

We're literally replanting the church, but the new church will have about 5000 members.

As a part of planting any church, it is important to have discussions about values (what things will be most important to our church), vision (what things should our church accomplish), and strategy (how are we going to accomplish the vision). And every church plant has to decide on a name.

Fellowship Bible Church North started as a plant from Fellowship Bible Church in Richardson Texas somewhere around 25 years ago. The pastor, Gene Getz, was the founder of the "Fellowship Bible Church" movement - a movement of churches that emphasized freedom in form, but steadfastness in function. To put it another way, Gene believed that the church must remain steadfast in the things that are commanded for the church to do (i.e. to "make disciples). But he believed that the church had tremendous freedom in how that function actually played out in the worship service.

And the movement took off. To date, there are hundreds of "Fellowship Bible Churches" all over the globe.

A couple of years ago, when it became apparent that Fellowship Bible Church North would soon outgrow its facilities, the elders decided to purchase a piece of land a mile and a half north of our current location. About that same time, literally across the street, a different "Fellowship Church" built a satellite campus for its church. Fellowship Bible Church North and Fellowship Church would be next door neighbors.

That presented a branding problem for Fellowship Bible Church North (the other guys got their building up first, and get a lot more media attention). And although we plan to have a great relationship with the neighbors, the challenges are pretty obvious. Tell your friend you go to "Fellowshp" at 75 and Legacy, and they're likely to get a surprise when they show up on Sunday morning.

So our Fellowship had a problem on its hands. We knew we needed a name change, but what do you change? If you take out the word "Fellowship," it could be thought that the church was separating itself from its history, and most importantly, dishonoring Gene Getz. If you take out the word "Bible," it could be thought that you don't teach the Bible anymore. If you take out the word "Church," nobody knows what you do or how you're a different organization from the Lion's club. So the elders were left with "North," and that didn't look good on stationary.

So, two weeks ago, the elders and strategic team announced that Fellowship Bible Church North, when replant is complete, will be known as "Chase Oaks Church - a Fellowship Bible Church." For all intents and purposes, it will be "Chase Oaks Church," which is short, memorable, and identifies the location of the church. But when practical, the church will continue to identify and celebrate its history by using the tag line.

It was a cool process to watch the elders struggle through and present to the church. It was a delicate process, and one with the potential to cause some real problems. But thus far, people seem to understand that the answer to the question "What's in a name" is "nothing," and "everything" at the same time. I'll keep you posted.


chloeadele said...

"That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet." Exactly what I was thinking when they announced it.