Mean­ing be­hind church names

The Covington News - - Religion - JA­SON DEES Ja­son Dees is a grate­ful fol­lower of Je­sus Christ, the hus­band of Paige and the fa­ther of Emery Anna. He is also the se­nior pas­tor of First Bap­tist Church in Cov­ing­ton.

It doesn’t take too many clues to know a lot about a church. I can usu­ally tell you when a church was founded, where it is lo­cated in the town, and its de­mo­graphic just by hear­ing the church name. In Bap­tist life, if the church is a First church it is usu­ally very old, dat­ing back to the 19th or even 18th cen­tury de­pend­ing on the re­gion. First Churches are usu­ally down­town and usu­ally have an older, white-col­lar de­mo­graphic. First Churches are also gen­er­ally more lib­eral and in­tel­lec­tual in their the­ol­ogy. Then in the early 20th cen­tury there was a trend to name churches for Bib­li­cal places or mark­ers like Ebe­neezer, Cal­vary, or Zion. These churches tend to be out of the town and have an older, blue-col­lar crowd, and the preach­ing is what I call “Good Ole Gospel.” When the 1950s and 60s came along, nam­ing a church for the road it was on was the trend. So you see churches like Thomas Road Bap­tist Church, or Whites­burg Bap­tist Church pop­ping up. This era of new churches was try­ing to find a mid­dle ground be­tween the lib­er­al­ism of the down­town church, and

COLUM­NIST the fun­da­men­tal­ism of the blue-col­lar church. These churches tend to be pro­gram driven and are fo­cused on min­is­ter­ing to the whole fam­ily. In the 1990s, con­tem­po­rary churches were all the rage. So you saw a lot of con­tem­po­rary church start­ing named some­thing like Cross­pointe or North­pointe. They are gen­er­ally more “seeker friendly” and are a re­ac­tion to the “busy­ness” of the pro­gram driven church. The con­tem­po­rary churches are staff or elder lead and fall into a “Sim­ple Church” model, fo­cus­ing their min­istry on the work­ing fam­ily. Re­cently, the trend in church names is what I call “hard­core ad­jec­tives.” Churches that have been planted in the past five years are usu­ally named some­thing like Jour­ney, El­e­va­tion or Ig­nite. Hard­core Ad­jec­tive Churches do a good job reach­ing the younger gen­er­a­tions, 35 and younger; and be­ing new churches they tend to meet in schools, gyms and even skat­ing rinks. All of these churches dif­fer­ent types of churches, when they started, were try­ing to be rel­e­vant and were on the cut­ting edge of reach­ing peo­ple. Even­tu­ally, they all fell or will fall into a com­fort zone and de­velop their own method­ol­ogy and tra­di­tions.

I gave you this brief his­tory les­son on the Amer­i­can church be­cause I want to give you a lit­tle back­ground on my vi­sion for First Bap­tist and all churches in Cov­ing­ton. When I was in sem­i­nary and was ob­serv­ing the dif­fer­ent eras and dif­fer­ent types of churches, it was al­ways dis­cour­ag­ing to me. The church of our Lord was so di­vid­ing by mu­sic, preach­ing style, and age de­mo­graph­ics. It seemed like churches that had a heart for reach­ing the young and unchurched were all young. They had very lit­tle age and ex­pe­ri­ence in their church body. Then the churches that had any mea­sure of adults 60 and older had a void of youth and en­ergy. I be­gan to ask, “What if a church could be both?” What if there was a church where the older and more ma­ture believ­ers had a heart to reach the young, the edgy, and un-churched, and were will­ing to get out their com­fort zone to do so? What if there was a church where the young re­spected their more ma­ture broth­ers and sis­ters and learned to lean on them for wis­dom and strength? What if there was a church where peo­ple weren’t sep­a­rated by age but united in one ac­cord for the sake of the gospel?

That was my hope com­ing out of sem­i­nary and is still my hope to­day. That is my vi­sion for First Bap­tist, that we could all re­al­ize that we are a part of a body that works to­gether for the sake of the king­dom of Christ.

The lo­cal church is a pic­ture of the king­dom of Christ. At First Bap­tist, and I pray at your church, that pic­ture is be­com­ing crys­tal clear. For the glory of Christ, Amen.

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