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What’s In A Name?

This is from a post on the great blog, about dropping denominational labels. I guess my tweak on this would be to simply ask what does it mean if we were to drop the ethnic labels as well? What does it mean for us to have “Korean” or “Chinese” in the name of the church when we have very little sense of ethnic identity ourselves? I think the denominational labels reflect our own ignorance of the differences behind those labels. Perhaps we drop them to attract others, but also perhaps the omission reflects that we do not know ourselves. By the same token then, if we’re dropping our ethnic labels to make ourselves more multi-ethnic or more open, perhaps we underestimate the sense that merely being a church, regardless of what the doctrine is or what ethnicity the people are inside, has become unattractive to people who aren’t Christian. And our willingness to drop these labels just shows that we are still preoccupied with the wrong notion of church to begin with.

Here’s just a clip of the aforementioned post…

There was a trend in the 90s up until today to drop denominational labels from church names. A church would become a community church or just church period. So, in our case, we would drop Baptist and become Richview Community Church or just Richview Church.

The thinking behind this is that Baptist is a bit of a turnoff. So is Presbyterian, Alliance, Anglican, or whatever.

The problem today is that people aren\’t turned off by the type of church. They aren’t staying away because it\’s a particular type of church. It’s more that church isn’t on their radar. As Reggie McNeal said, you can build the perfect church and they still won’t come.

In fact, the labels are increasingly meaningless. They used to carry baggage; now people just aren’t sure what they even mean.

The example I use is of a vegan passing by a fast food joint. Inside the restaurant, they’re very concerned that everyone know they’re McDonalds and not Burger King. But to the vegan walking by, McDonalds is the same as Burger King. There may be differences, but the differences don’t matter to a vegan. He’s simply not interested.

About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

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