Changing Our Name – Part 5

You can read the first 4 parts by clicking on any of the following:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

There are probably 4 or 5 objections to the name change that I have heard over the past several months and the more recent several weeks.  I will deal with the first two here:

  1. People are already coming into Oak Grove and being saved under the old name – we don’t need to change the name to see people saved.

 

Much of this statement is true.  There are a good number of people who have already come in and become followers of Christ.  There continue to be new people here every single week and for those blessings we rejoice.  However, we have been faced with the reality that many that we have invited have rejected the invitation simply because of a perception that is well within our grasp to change.  If this name is causing a distraction – it isn’t a compromise or a theological shift to change our name – it is merely removing a barrier so that we can reach as many as possible.

So really, changing our name is only a question of how many do we want to reach.  Do we want to reach as many as is possible?  Do we want to impact people for whom our name is a deterrent or do we want to make sure that people agree with us before they come in  So…if our name is making it hard for some people to come and hear about Jesus, how many should it take before we consider changing our name?

I Corinthians 9:12 says: “On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”  This is the attitude that I think we should all have when it comes to difficult issues like this one.  I love being a Baptist.  I have been one all of my known life.  But I don’t hold on to the name of a denomination so tightly that it hinders the spread of the gospel – especially when we will still be a Baptist church theologically and historically.  I am more convinced than ever that a denominational name is a hindrance to the Gospel.

 

  1. We will lose and forget our history here at Oak Grove if we change our name.

 

This is a legitimate question and concern – especially for those who have been involved and sacrificed for many years at Oak Grove.  However there are two other sides to this question that I want to point out.  One is another question – how will we hinder our mission and the cause of Christ if we refuse to remove barriers to the gospel?  As I see it we have two options: 1) are we willing to cling to our past and sacrifice our future, or 2) are we willing to fight to remember the past but also make the path clear for the Gospel and the future?

I think that it is imperative that we remind ourselves of the commands given to us by God.  Matthew 28:18-20 says:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

There is really only one command given but two key takeaways.  The command is this: make disciples.  Here are the two takeaways: 1) God is glorified when we make more disciples (make disciples of all nations); 2) God is glorified when we make better disciples (teaching them to obey everything…)  So, we can ask the question about losing our history, which I don’t believe we will, or we can ask another question: what else might we lose if we don’t.   Who will we miss?  What blessings of God will we miss?  What growth and life change might we miss?

The second side to this question is fear!  There is so much fear rapped up in most of us and it effects our decisions.  The fear here is that the past will be forgotten and thereby treated as if it doesn’t exist.  This church was founded by actual people who loved Jesus and gave their time, talent and treasure to help others know Him.  That fact, that history, that sacrifice will not change with the changing of a name.  However, I also believe that they wouldn’t care whether or not someone really remembers their names…they will care whether or not others remember Jesus because of their sacrifice.  That is a real legacy.

Objections 3-5 coming soon.

Changing Our Name – Part 5

3 thoughts on “Changing Our Name – Part 5

  1. Jeff W. says:

    It’s curious to me how easily we derive worth and value from labels whether created for us or self-applied. Somehow we’ve attached our belief system, worldview, and familial/personal values to a name supposedly created as a mockery for those taking a different approach to Christianity then the Puritans. Why?! Don’t misunderstand, labels can help to quickly and clearly identify the intention of a particular object or action but at the same time can create facile worth. Labels are organized and helpful but just like a vertical file eventually become archaic and misconceived. It’s at this crossroad that I believe we sit, whether to maintain a culturally misconstrued label, to which we’ve (not Christ) assigned worth and value, or to re-brand with a positive, self-applied label by which our genuine purpose is no longer to be different from the Puritans but to be wholehearted Christ-followers.

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  2. Sam says:

    How does the name of your church impact you from personally sharing the gospel? It seems through this series the focus is to change the church name for the sake of the gospel, though the gospel should be preached in the church, inviting someone to church is not sharing the gospel.

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    1. Sam, thank you for your comments, I don’t know you personally however I am happy to interact with you on this. First, inviting someone to church is not sharing the Gospel, however – as you said the Gospel should be clearly communicated in our churches, and if that is done in a meaningful and relevant way – people will respond. They are responding here. Now, whenever you are leading or setting up a church you have to look at the culture and determine the cultural barriers and in-roads for the gospel. In our culture (which may be different than yours…I don’t know your location), people generally don’t have a problem with Jesus, they have a problem with the church because of a number of things – legalism, hypocrisy, failure to genuinely engage those who are hurting…etc. Right or not, that is the culture that we are in. In our particular area, when you begin to build a relationship with someone and point them toward Christ – the subject of church always comes up. In fact, our outreach strategy is called Pi-squared – Pray, Invest, Invite. That may not be your strategy but it is ours, and because of that, our name has become a barrier to sharing the gospel with people who are still far from God.

      Things like what happened in Sacramento 2 weeks ago tell people – I want nothing to do with “that Jesus” and nothing to do with “those people” Check out this article and video.
      http://usat.ly/1to4RO5
      We would never associate with this person or this type of belief, the problem is that the people we are trying to reach don’t know that. It’s a huge barrier for us.

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