First, a little background…
Imagine a newcomer—someone unfamiliar with our community and our church—what might that person think about our church name?
Some have wondered if “tabernacle” means something Jewish. Others, having heard of another famous tabernacle, think it might be Mormon. Some think it sounds like an old-style, traditional church—with liturgy, hymnals, and no band. Still others may be just confused: What, exactly, is a “Tab”?
It’s those kind of people whom we want to help. So we’re thinking of changing our name.
Of course, we don’t need to change it for our sake. We’re already in. But a fresh, contemporary sounding name might help us connect better with people on the outside.
Change is a necessary part of life. Growth means change. Improvements require change. Progress and development can’t happen without change.
And just as individuals experience change on their journey through life, a church that is on a journey will also need to change.
Some have raised specific questions about this need for change, so here are a few responses to these frequently asked questions (FAQs)…
- Whose idea was this? No one person can take credit for it. The idea surfaced years ago as we saw some people avoiding us just because our name seemed a bit unusual to them—a bit vague. Then, more recently the church leaders, while working to retool our mission and vision, realized again that our name continues to be an issue for many who otherwise might want to check out our church. So the idea for a change emerged out of group conversations.
- What’s wrong with the old name? Years ago, it was a great name. It communicated well to that generation —a generation, by the way, that was more biblically literate. In those days many understood the name. Now, however, we live in very different times with very different challenges. Today’s generation sees things quite differently. Back in the 70s, for example, there was nothing wrong with polyester leisure suits (or bee-hive hairdos, for that matter). But would you want to wear one today?
- Why throw away our history? We won’t! This church has a wonderful heritage of seeing lives changed by God’s grace. For years this church was “cutting edge,” challenging the religious status quo and pointing people toward a personal relationship with Jesus. We honor our heritage by continuing to point people to Jesus in innovative ways. Think of the Football Hall of Fame, which celebrates the history of football. Simple leather helmets were state-of-the-art in the early days. Today, nobody discredits those early helmets, even though current players have moved to advanced protective gear.
- Won’t change be too confusing for people? Unsettling? Change is hard. It requires us to make certain adjustments—in the ways we think or how we do things. But change can also breathe fresh life into a situation. Change can bring clarity and reduce confusion; the benefits of change can outweigh any minor inconveniences. When a bride changes her name, she leaves her maiden name behind. She chooses a new identity in order to reflect a new reality. Of course, she will have adjustments to make. But she has good reason for making those changes.
- Isn’t changing the name of our church merely cosmetic? Window dressing? In a sense, it is a superficial change. But changing the name merely helps us catch up with more substantial things that have already happened. The fact is, our church has already changed in significant ways. Changing the church identity should reflect the reality of who we are now—and what we are becoming. What’s more, we want to keep changing. To connect an ever-changing world with our unchanging God requires contemporary language and fresh ideas. Over the years, we’ve seen big changes take place in small increments. For example: • we bussed kids to Sunday school in the 70s—and got to know their parents as a result… • our playland is an open invitation for families to come into our place… • we show hospitality to our guests when we serve coffee and cookies on Sundays… • our moms’ group provides childcare so more can come and support one another… • we added air-conditioning to provide a more comfortable place to hear God’s Word… • we use multimedia video and PowerPoint slides so people can learn by seeing and not just by hearing.
- Isn’t this like a “marketing” campaign? Something beneath the high calling of the Gospel? Actually, the concept of marketing is as old as the gospel. Marketing” simply means means “to get your message out.” It is a good thing—not a worldly thing—to bring God’s message to the market place and reach people not yet here. Let’s get the message out. Let’s tell the Good News—whenever and however we can. We use English translations of God’s Word, for instance, rather than require Minnesotans to learn ancient Hebrew and Greek. We want to put timeless truths in a contemporary context.
- Why spend so much time and effort on a new name? It’s really bigger than a new label. It’s something that is far more significant. The name does not change our identity, but it can reflect who we are and what makes us tick. We’re not just looking for a new label; we’re defining our identity. Our identity goes to the deeper question of why we are here. Mn Teen Challenge, for example, is now known as Mn Adult & Teen Challenge. Their name change shows how their vision and purpose has expanded.
- What identity do we want to portray? We’re all on a journey in life—not yet perfect, but becoming more like what God wants us to be. We’re walking together, being transformed through Christ. Before we can answer God’s call and fulfill our mission, we are motivated by some core truths, such as:
• God is alive;
• People are important;
• Life is a journey; and
• Better things are coming.
So we want our identity to express our mission: “Helping each other take the next step on our spiritual journey with Christ.”
Refreshing our church identity…
We’ve been known as Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle for decades. It was our identity. It was who we were.
But things have changed.
The term tabernacle, for instance, doesn’t connect with people today. The average person outside of our church just doesn’t get it.
What’s more, we’re not the same as we were. The name doesn’t really describe who we are now.
Our church has evolved over the years. Though our faith foundations remain solid, we have changed in other ways. We’ve been on a journey—and God has changed us: our style has changed; our personality has changed; our way of doing things has changed.
It’s time we allow our identity to catch up with who we are.
A new church name can help others see who we are now—not the church we used to be. A new name will help us express in fresh ways:
• Who we are,
• What we are about, and
• Why we are here.
We’d love to hear what you think. Click here to give us your feedback.