For a year now I’ve been working for Cingular Wireless in the National Business Services division. Now the company is changing names…again. It’s going to be “the new AT&T.” So, a re-branding effort is underway. If you live in the United States you’ve probably seen or heard the commercials. The brand name Cingular will run alongside AT&T in ads for a few months, and then the company will pull away the Cingular name and retire it, along with the orange Jack.
Re-branding. Sometimes its done because the former company name had developed a negative reputation, and other times because a bigger brand name can be more profitable. Nowadays a lot of people who seek to follow Jesus are trying a variety of re-branding, in that they are dropping the name word “church” from their group’s name.
What I’m talking about ranges from simply modifying a church name to avoid unpleasant connotations to even referring to Christians as “Jesus followers” because the former descriptor has been dragged through the mud of centuries.
As for “Christian,” I don’t think it has to be used in evangelism against all common sense, but Christians have a duty to try to redeem the name rather than just drop it because they can’t live up to it. Where church names come in, I don’t mind it at all if I see a church using a culturally-appropriate name that describes who they are.
In any case, I’ve noticed the community (both inside the congregation and outside) eventually attaches the name on somewhere. In poplular use “The Gathering” easily becomes referred to as “The Gathering Church,” “The Journey” becomes “Journey Church,” and even an Assembly of God congregation becomes “Assembly of God Church” (rather redundant, though).
That’s just my two cents.