Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's In a Name?

Ol' Willie Shakespeare asked this question through Romeo as he approached Juliet at the balcony. Romeo was musing that calling something by another name does not necessarily change the essence of the thing renamed. He was, you'll remember, struggling with the fact that his love had the WRONG last name--that of his family's rival family in the struggle to control a city.

Well, the sense of struggle, self-doubt and reevaluation are no less intense for this pastor as he contemplates the renaming of the church at 614 Florida Street. As two congregations have merged, it has become clear that continuing either former church's name will bring an unintended dampening of the excitement for the whole process. Yet, what will our new identity be?

Many cultures have a tradition of not naming babies until they have been observed for a while and their character becomes clear. Then a name befitting the behavior is attached. While this was the philosophy first adopted by our leadership team, it has become clear you cannot adequitely promote an organization without an identity.

So a label must be attached.

I love the name Touchstone. It reflects the connection to Jesus our cornerstone (Touching the Stone.) Touchstones are used by jewelers to identify the amount of gold in a metalic object. When we come into contact with Jesus, we see ourselves in a true light. This name projects the DNA of a Christ-centered, truth-telling community of faith.

I love the name Hope. For people struggling to survive, this is a perfect name for a community of faith. We offer hope. To be without Jesus is to be "without God and without hope in this world."

But a new label must be attached.

This label will in some measure predict the nature of this new church. All labels do. Naming in the Bible is often a prophetic act, setting the course of destiny for people and groups. Many people were renamed by God in the Bible at a point of life change. (i.e. You were Abram, now you are Abraham; You were Jacob, now you are Israel.)

What's in a name? A lot more than starry-eyed Romeo could have imagined.

No comments: