15. Name Change.
As we surveyed the church landscape of Clarksville, we noticed that there were at least 5 other churches that either start with the name Grace or have this word in their title. As a church planting movement, we want to fill a distinct niche in Clarksville, and reach out to the unchristian population in the city. We do not want to be just another church that has a new fad of worship or ministry, attracting a large group of either disgruntled church members or people with too much traditional church baggage. We are targeting the unchristian and the seeker first, and then, if a Christian comes among us who likes our values and mission, we will praise God for sending workers into the harvest.
It is basically a matter of values and vision. We want to start a movement of planting culturally relevant churches, and to do that, we need to lay new foundations and practice new methods. Our vision does not revolve around (to use one of Gailyn Van Rheenen's phrases) massaging the already existing church culture in Clarksville. We are going to be a missional community that is on journey with God to engage the world around us.
Having said all of that, we have chosen to leave the word "church" out of our name. Several people on our team have made notice of people they know in their relational network that would not come to a "church" because of all the negative baggage associated with "church." i.e. dressing up, putting on a facade, judgmentalism, clicks, etc. (All the stuff we try so desparately to avoid, but somehow periodically drift into). I guess what I am saying is that our decisions in this plant will revolve around building community and engaging unchristians, not marketing ourselves to the Christian community so we can have a "Big Church". We do not want to be a mega-church. We want to be a church planting movement that plants missional, culturally relevant churches. At the same time, if GOd blesses us with that kind of growth, we will continue to plant churches and continue to follow God with the growth. We are not militantly anti-mega church, we are just not seeking it or nurturing that philosophy for our Kingdom efforts..
Well, here it is. Our "name" will be IKON. We chose this name for several reasons. First, an ikon is the Greek word in the new testament for image. As such, it will communicate that we are seeking to reflect the image of Jesus Christ. Second, an "ikon" point to something greater than itself. It is only a representation of a greater reality. This is all we are. We are not the attraction, we only stimulate and point people into another realm where they experience Him. Third, it will be a great conversation starter. I have already had several good conversations with people about this name that led to some interesting insights into God and "church." Fourthly, if I am honest, I think it sounds cool. Lastly, it will set us apart, for the time being, from the church culture here in Clarksville.
But let's keep things in perspective here. A community will not thrive and reflect the reign of God because it has a cool name. It will thrive because of the faith hope and love of the people in the community. It will thrive because the Spirit is allowed to work in us as an individual and community.