Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Maybe the Problem Isn’t Just About Renaming Your Church

Maybe the Problem Isn’t Just About Renaming Your Church

What’s in a name?

It’s an old adage.

It flows from Shakespeare’s famed play, Romeo and Juliet. The actual line is,

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Most are familiar with Shakespeare’s tale of “star-cross’d” lovers. Though members of two warring families, Juliet tells Romeo that names are meaningless, and shouldn’t stand in the way of their love. After all, she loves the man who is Romeo Montague—not the Montague name. Such titles are irrelevant. 

It is the substance of the person that matters.

Apparently, some church leaders aren’t so sure.

I’ve noticed a growing trend, at least in my own city, of churches renaming themselves in an apparent effort to invigorate a plateaued or even declining situation. Usually, it is a church start that has been going at it for a few years, hasn’t caught fire, so the thinking is that it’s best to reboot.

Two churches in our area are on their third name.

I wish them well. I really do. There’s not a snarky bone in my body toward their situation.

But I hope they are doing more than rebranding. 

I hope they are doing more than a new logo, new website or new location. I hope they are not simply renaming the church, but rethinking it. Because a new name—actually, any name—is not substantive.


That’s easy.

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James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.