Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A New Name & Logo Isn't Enough, The Church Needs a Transfusion

Five men sat around a table talking late into the night about the name of our church. Would we remain Grace Brethren Church or become Grace Fellowship? It isn’t that big of a difference now as I look back, but in the moment it seemed so important. 

This was in the mid-1990s in a suburb outside the Los Angeles area. The five consisted of three young men in their early thirties, including myself, and two middle-aged men that were actually fathers of the other two younger guys. I remember we had heated discussions on our elder board. I was the pastor of this more established congregational church, and I wanted to bring change. We were thinking that if we changed our name, got a fresh logo, and cast a bigger vision, the church would become healthier and more attractive and would grow. We wanted a new identity in the community. One elder opposed this thought, but we wouldn’t let him stop us. We pushed this new vision through, and the elder later excused himself from our leadership team and the church, but we got what we wanted. We changed the name, the logo, the vision—but not the church.

Years later, I have a different view of what brings change to a church. My new view is born from much more experience and admittedly many mistakes. I don’t think an established church needs a transition to be healthy and vital. What is truly needed is more than a transition; it needs a transfusion of healthy DNA found in the blood of Jesus and nothing less. 

Someone once described changing a church’s name, structure, or programs to fix the problems it faces as much like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic—futile and meaning- less in altering the outcome. 

Church is not an organization or an institution but an organism, a living body. An organization can transition. An organism grows, matures, reproduces, and dies. The thought that we can fix a church by hiring a new staff member or plugging in a new program is ridiculous. Simply changing direction with clever goals and a capital giving campaign is not going to transform a congregation but merely send the same ailing church down a new path. 

To learn how an established church can receive a transfuion of organic life check out our latest book Church Transfusion


Unknown said...

I went to a church once that had changed its name prior to my attending. They'd simply dropped the word "Baptist" from it. I felt this was somewhat disingenuous because they were still very much affiliated with a large Baptist organization and their beliefs stemmed from that. I know they were trying to make themselves appear more attractive to unchurched people by dropping the word but at the core, they were still exactly the same and were going to be teaching the same beliefs once people walked in the door.

Tracey Solomon said...

Interesting perspective- I'm on the Board of a Non-profit ministry- (not a church) and am thinking through how this affects us- first question: are we an organism or and organization?

I prefer to be living please... justsayin. great thoughts.

dmaclearn said...

My associate pastor looked at me one day and said, ”we can continue to try and do broken better, but broken is broken.”

Matt said...

Name changing, re branding, etc is surely something that comes out of where a church is, rather that where they want to start going.