Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's in a Name?

Southern Baptists--some of them, that is--are tired of their name. Some church planters seem to have met resistance in planting new churches. Apparently, a minority of people are resistant to belonging to a church that has "Southern" affixed to it; it's too regional (can we read that as "provincial?"). So a group of concerned parties has gathered for a powwow. They have the brilliant idea that the solution is a name change.

Why do we believe that a name change will make the difference? Why do we believe that the material, surface things, matter so much? Have we become so endeared to marketing principles that we have overlooked the most important ingredient to planting churches?

Before someone who may read this asks the inevitable question about my authority in this matter, let me say that I have over 20 years of experience in planting churches. And I had the brilliant idea to drop one word from the titles of our churches in South America. It did not make one single bit of difference. We met the same resistance, even with the name change.

You see, people, the resistance is not to the name. The resistance is SPIRITUAL. The flesh and the Spirit are at war. The world and the Spirit are at war. The devil and the Spirit are at war. Church planters and lost people tussle, not over a name, but over their eternal salvation. The name does not matter.

I do not foresee much positive coming from this move to rename us Southern Baptists. I hope that those proponents of such a move can prove me wrong and plant and grow more churches. But I think the idea is a house of cards, built by boys who have nothing better to do than play mind games.

If you want to see positive growth, get off the computers and do two things: pray and preach. Pray more than you preach. Preach intentionally, both in public and privately. We reap in abundance when we sow in abundance. Our tears in the prayer closet must water the seed.

It's not the name. It's the intentionality of praying and preaching. Leave the name alone.

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