Sunday, February 10, 2008

Would You Change Your Name?

Believe it or not, we are still visiting churches trying to find our home. Right now we are visiting a church that, you might say, is having an identity crisis.

The question is: who are they? They were started in the post-war 50's when 'memorial' was a popular name for a church, thus they were chartered as Memorial Baptist Church. However, over the years they moved to a beautiful campus in the heart of the metroplex where a fifty foot cross lets those driving by on the freeway know that the church is there.

In recent years, they have added what some might refer to as a 'tag line'. The Church at the Cross.

As we have visited, this church off and on for many months, I actually thought that the name was The Church at the Cross. Perhaps I thought that it was "The Church formerly known as Memorial Baptist". :-)

So at this time, they have a recommendation from the church leadership (Pastors and elders) to officially change the name to "The Church at The Cross". Yes, it will stay a Baptist church. No, Baptist would not be in the name.

Obviously, this is creating quite a bit of lively discussion around the church campus.

A name change is often very hard. I loved my maiden name as it was different. It had meaning. It literally meant "the mark of God" ... Godsmark. However, a change happened in my life (marriage) and now I have a new last name (Okay...not so new as I've had it for over 25 years).

I think God has been preparing His people at Memorial for this day for some time now. I don't believe much in coincidences but I firmly believe in God's incidents. In preparation for this time, some time back, He ordained that the SBC literature (put out by LifeWay which used to be called Baptist Book Store before they changed their name) would be a study of the book of Genesis.

I find this interesting on a number of fronts.

First of all, Genesis means the origin or beginning of something.

Next, we find a name change happen in Genesis 17:5. "No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations."

Then, we find another name change just ten verses later in Genesis 17.15. God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah."

Do you think that our Loving Lord just might be using this to confirm for the congregation that name changes are okay? Do you think He might be using Abraham as an example? Just as Abraham was father of many nations, do you think that many may come to know our Loving Lord after, if, Memorial Baptist Church becomes The Church at The Cross?

I can't help but think of another name change that had great impact on the world. Saul to Paul. If Saul had never become Paul, how vastly different could Christian history have been?

Change is usually uncomfortable. Change can be hard. Lest we forget, change can also be very good and beneficial. What if the primary bread winner in your family had never changed into his or her current job? What if they had refused to change?

If you are a follower of our Loving Lord, you've already gone through some title changes. You were once called 'lost' but now you're 'saved'. You were once 'condemned' but now you are 'redeemed'. You have a new name of 'Christian'.

If you have never met my Loving Lord, if you don't know His saving grace, will you check out His invitation today? Then will you consider changing your name to His?

Finally, will each of you join with me in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ at this church? Will you pray that the hearts of the members will be open to what God wants them to do? Will you pray that they will put aside personal preferences and tradition and see where our Lord leads them?
Isaiah 62:2 (New International Version)
The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.

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1 comment:

Susan said...

Interesting post. We've seen many many churches go through this over the recent years. I think that God can use a name change to bring new life. But a name change alone will NOT do it.

Susan