Friday, September 04, 2009

Conversation starter: a building name change

The Board and pastoral team want to start a conversation at Opawa about a building name change. At an upcoming church meeting, we want to suggest that we adopt not a church name change, but a building name change. … Why?

One: Biblically and theologically: a Christian understanding is that “church” is never a building, but always the people. As we see in 2 Samuel 7, Acts 15 and Revelation 5, God’s building project is not a building, but people. Can we find a name that does not suggest a building is the church?

Two: Ministerially: our buildings are used pretty much 7 days a week, not only for “church” worship services, but for community, for ministry and as a relational space. It would be good to have a name that reflected this use.

Three: Practically: with the completion of Stages 1 and 2 of the building project, a birds eye view of the physical footprint shows a building focused as much on community, team, ministry and relational space as on church worship services.

Four: Timing: that it would be an appropriate way to celebrate a significant moment in our life as a church.

The Board have been experimenting with names. We started by working with combinations: mixing and matching – what we do and what the physical building is:

Opawa Baptist ministry centre? restoration hub? hospitality spot? resting place? spirituality space

To date, none of these possibilities really grab us. So as well as wanting to start a church conversation, in preparation for a church forum, we are calling for constructive, considered suggestions.

Posted by steve at 01:38 PM


  1. Hi Steve,

    This year we did the opposite of what you are thinking for Opawa. We went from being a “Worship and Community Centre” to a church. Our 14 year old building doesn’t look like a traditional church building (although we have a cross in the structure on the wall facing the road) and we have had different community groups use the building over the years as well as several different church communities and our own outreach activities meeting each week.

    We found people in our local community thought we were a Community Centre and were surprised to find out we were a church. We have a sign out the front with our name and church denomination symbol on it (as it turns out not so many people recognise the denominational symbol in our community)as well as advertising our worship service times.

    We have found since changing our name to include the word church we have had more people visit (and stay) on a Sunday than we have ever experienced. They haven’t come to church through our outreach activities but because they saw we were a church.

    It has seemed strange to me because when the building was first named the idea was to keep the word church out of the name so people in the area would be able to relate more and see it as a place they could come without feeling like they were coming to “church”. However the community then thought it was a Community Centre. Now when we put the word church in the name we are seeing people responding positively to it.

    Our name changed, our community is changing and our building has stayed the same.

    It sounds like exciting times at Opawa 🙂


    Comment by Naomi — September 5, 2009 @ 2:28 am

  2. community centre/hub
    hospitality centre/hub
    resource centre/hub

    I always think that how it reads on the sign to the wider community is perhaps as important as what it communicates to those inside the community.

    Is adding a denominational tag a positive or a negative? I’m not sure.

    shalom mate,


    Comment by Andrew — September 6, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

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