Is the Name Church of Christ a Hindrance to Growth? (1)

by Richard Mansel managing editor
ashamedfece.jpegAn elder stands in the pulpit and tells the congregation that they have decided that they must remove the “Church of Christ” from their name and sign, if they ever hope to grow. They have polled some in the community and decided that the name brings a negative connotation to mind. They must seek a more positive approach.
My mind brims with thoughts when I consider this topic. I wish to share a few.
First of all, these articles are not dealing with the issues that some have with whether the church ought to have a name. We are discussing those who remove the name Church of Christ because of public perception. That should be of keen interest to us because of its implications.
First, man reacts, rather than acts. Instead of trying to rebuild our image, we trash the name and start over. In the process, we lead others to overreact and, in the process, make matters worse.
Second, brethren have had unnecessary fights through the years over silly matters. We have divided over petty issues, dragging our fights into the streets. We must repent of these sins and stop committing them by becoming more Christ like. Accordingly, some have developed a bad impression, because of the weaknesses of a few brethren.
The errors of men, however, do not dictate the actions of God. Nothing has changed about God’s will because we sin (Psalm 119:89). The Lord has not changed anything about his Church because of us (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23). By overreacting, we make more of something than is necessary.
Third, every aspect of humanity suffers from negative associations. The fights, division and problems we have had in Churches of Christ through the years exist in every religious group in America. Governments at every level suffer because of acrimony. Every social club experiences serious dissension. Fights at boards of education have resulted in people moving out of districts and led to changes in leadership. Fights and conflicts have ripped untold numbers of families apart.
Almost none of them have changed their names. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, have an image problem among a multitude of people in the United States because of their ubiquitous literature. Do we hear of efforts in their fellowship to change their name?
People who bear our family name have committed crimes, been racists, etc. Yet, we do not change our names.
The United States has an ugly past when it comes to slavery, racism and barbarity towards the innocents among us. However, we still bear our name. We apologize and move on from our sins and seek to do better. We cannot control the feelings of those who cannot do so.
One church I preached at had a racist label. Decades before, a man barred Blacks from admittance into the building. Time and people had changed and the congregation had integrated, but some older people in the community still held a grudge. We have no way of forcing people to change. We just have to move on and change one person and family at a time.
People have negative feelings toward religion. Yet, we are still religious. Many folks in our society hate Scripture, but we still study and proclaim it. They hate God, the Holy Spirit and Christ. Nevertheless, we still follow and love them.
I wonder if there is not much more to this effort to change the names of congregations than meets the eye.

10 Replies to “Is the Name Church of Christ a Hindrance to Growth? (1)”

  1. Another fine example of a “straw man” that some who do not like the church have built in order to be more marketable to the masses. If we are going to change the name, then let’s change our worship also. For example, let’s bring in a small 3-piece combo to help our singing. Oh, wait a minute… Some of those advocating changing the name have already brought in instruments of music to “improve” our singing.
    Yes, there seems to be quite another agenda among those who want to change the name.

  2. “Wonder”?
    Yes, we may wonder about someone’s motives. But we will never know them. Only the Lord can judge that. If these elders in an autonomous congregation decide to use some other “name” for the congregation, who are we to question their decision – or their motives?

  3. Keith, they are indeed autonomous congregations. But they are congregations which are a part of the whole Church. Since they are a member of the family who has chosen to toss off the name of the overall Church, for whatever reason, they are saying something substantial about the rest of us in the Family, the Church. The name that we wear is no longer worthy. Since it is the Lord’s name, and they are speaking of us in a derogatory manner, that makes it especially our business.
    I am not claiming to know the intent in everyone’s heart. I am using the word “some” and discussing reasons why they may be taking drastic and regretful action.

  4. I have been concerned about this very movement! AND I share in your view towards this subject. I was with a group of christian sisters last weekend on retreat. There were four of us, and four ladies from various denominations. One of these ladies brought up the fact she had visited a C-of-C in our town, and had gotten the impression that they believed that “they were the only ones going to heaven” – and she left. Immediately my 3 sisters in Christ jumped out there, and protested, stating that they “don’t believe that”! I saw a teachable moment “flushed” down the tube!!
    It is like “tolerance” has become the new leaven that will erode our church and our country!!
    We are told not to let Satan have a foothold – I think we have flung the door open and invited him in!

  5. I just called a local congregation where they have been accused, by some brethren, of changing the name to “The Family of God at _______”. I left the name off for now. Their secretary told me that “technically” they are still calling themselves the Church of Christ at that location, but their bulletin and website includes the other name. I noticed that they were listed as Church of Christ in the phone book and she answered the phone with that name.
    Is it a problem? In my opinion, it is a symptom of other problems. “Technically”, I suppose, they are allowed to call themselves that or the Church or the Church of the Firstborn, Church of God, etc, etc, and although a trout in the milk may be circumstantial evidence, its pretty clear that somebody with a fish put it in there.

  6. What about the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who voluntarily died horribly on the cross to purchase the church?

  7. Judy, Thank you for providing a good example of the problem that I am bringing to light. The Church of Christ isn’t a denomination. Some people may act like it is, but they are sinners. The Lord’s Church is pure and beautiful.
    While some people have mishandled the leadership and doctrines of the Lord’s church, I fail to see how that is Jesus’ fault. I hope you will re-think your position and stop blaming the Lord’s Church for the mistakes of men.

  8. Richard, Thank you for not being ashamed or afraid to make the statement “The Church of Christ isn’t a denomination.” Rom 1:16
    Sadly, there are some ‘churches’ that bare the name “church of Christ” but do not support Biblical teaching. Human emotions and worldly teachings have clouded minds. Either 2 Tim 3:16-17 is true and all we need including the pattern for salvaion and the church can be found in the Bible or God is a liar. What is that pattern? That’s a discussion that deserves more than just a post in a comment.

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