You’ve seen and participated in conversations like this:
1st person: Ugh-you’re breath smells like haggis!!!
2nd person (with bad breath) Sorry, You got any gum?
3rd person: Hmmm…”Haggis Breath,” that would be a great name for a band!
Of course, almost always, as in the above example, it is not actually a great name for a band. It is a horrible, horrible name. You would not listen to this band and if you did, you would not sneak backstage at their concert.
For those of us reared in the Christian subculture, we have our own bad band names. In younger days, I was briefly the mascot for a local Christian band called “Frolic Like A Heifer” based on (Malachi 4:2). Another friend and I, toyed with the idea of starting a band called “Nero’s Torches” based on Nero’s alleged burning of Christians to light his garden parties (we never used it, so if you want it’s yours for free). There are a thousand ‘great’ Christian band names, but for the non-musically inclined you don’t need to think of band names, you can also think of great church names.
Once upon a time, church names told you two things, where the church was and its denominational affiliation. There are still a lot of churches like this (I go to one), but in a world of mass marketing and suspicion of institutions, churches increasingly hide their denominational affiliation in their name. My wife and I attended a Baptist church in Vancouver for a couple of months before we heard that it was Baptist (at the time we were trying to avoid Baptists so it was a bit of a shock). There are mega-churches that don’t tell you their denominational affiliation at all unless you go hunting and even then their relationship to their denomination is not particularly significant.
And so churches get creative with their names. Growing up on Oahu, one of the big churches on the Island was a Foursquare church called Hope Chapel. The Irony was not lost when its prominence was superseded by ‘New Hope’ a church from the same denomination. Other churches pick up words and phrases and locations from the Bible in their names. Think of an important location in the Bible (where good things happened) and chances are there is a church with that in its name. Titles of God and Jesus are also popular, as are significant moments in Christ’s earthly ministry (i.e. Calvary, Bethel, Mt. of Olives, Galilee, Bethlehem, nativity, resurrection, Road to Emmaus, ascension, etc).
But the most creative names seem to come from the seeker sensitive mega-churches, the emergent collective, and the hyper charismatic churches. Each of these churches names themselves something catchy and cool, that says something about how they see themselves and their mission. The ‘Mars Hill’ churches (both Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll’s churches) named themselves what they did, because they saw themselves as churches engaging the culture (like Paul in Acts, plus neither Bell or Driscoll could spell Areopagus). Other churches name themselves things like Imago Dei, Solomon’s Portico, Mosaic, the Haven in hopes of saying something about the quality of community and what they are about. Some churches try to appeal to people on their pilgrimage by calling their church Journey or Quest. Other churches get creative and provocative naming themselves things like “Scum of the Earth.” Best church name I’ve ever seen is “The Perfect Church” but from what I’ve heard, it didn’t live up to its name.
So as an exercise of creativity, what do you think are great names for a church? Note: like names of bands these don’t need to be ‘actually’ good names, but have fun with it. Here is my starting list:
Opiate of the Masses
House of Rahab
Bloodbath Church of Christ (Are you washed in the blood?)
First Church of My Co-Pilot
Flaming Christian Fellowship
White As Snow Christian Reformed Church
Rolling Stone Church of the Resurrection
A Little Leaven Bible Church
A Bunch of Hypocrites
Capture and Rapture Evangelical Fellowship
What about you? What do you got…let’s get an interesting list going!