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Attractional vs. Incarnational: Will Changing the Name of a Church Solve Every Church Problem, Especially Lower Attendance?

Hopefully, changing the church name isn't the last step before your congregation experiences this....


About the Title

Of course, the answer is no. A name change may temporarily put a few people in the pews or chairs, but solve every church problem, definitely not!

Churches like to be attractional

An elder I respect at the church we attend, stood up today to announce our church is changing names. In his talk, he mentioned two, maybe three times, their desire to have a new name which would attract people.

When speaking of having a name that would attract people, the elder mentioned our target audience, which will be young unchurched people. It was also mentioned that they wanted to have not only a cool or hip name, but that cool, hip name should have an available URL for what I presume will be a new cool, hip attractional website. Unfortunately, most church leaders do not understand church websites (cool or uncool) are only visited by church members, either their own or unsatisfied church members of other congregations who are actively church hopping.

Jesus was not exactly attractional

Now, about this church I attend, it is a Church of Christ. Everything we do should be guided by Jesus’ teachings and his examples. In example after example, Jesus went to the people of his day, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, those with messy lives. That latter category includes most all Americans today. Jesus did not sit behind a boulder and erect a sign that read, “Church of Me,” and wait for all of Israel to come to him. They did go to him, but Jesus went to them first. JESUS WAS ATTRACTIONAL BECAUSE HE WAS INCARNATIONAL FIRST.

Incarnational vs. Attractional – What’s the difference?

Jesus drastically entered into the lives of people. When Jesus was born of a virgin – that was the act of God coming into our world. Jesus is God. But He came to the world in order for us to better relate to him. How better to relate to humans than to go through all humans have to endure?

God is incarnational – as in the way He came to earth to live among His people.

Jesus, during the time of His earthly ministry, was incarnational – He went to the people.

The church (the organizations most people who have no relationship with Christ call church, brick and mortar buildings) – more often than not is attractional – it waits for people to go to it. The church debates on how their services should be run in order to attract people. In some instances, churches actually do go out to the community in which they are in and do good. They become Jesus to their community. They are then incarnational. I recently met someone from the Central Church of Christ in Lufkin, TX who told me about their congregation and the good they do for others. They are truly incarnational. Really, what they do would take too long to write in this post.

Name Changes Are Fine

A name change for a church is fine, as long as it is accompanied by a ton of good works in the lives of hurting people that church members personally know. Let’s all get out there and do good for others. It’s the least we could do for Jesus. Besides being the right thing to do, when we take the love of Jesus to others, we actually become attractional. I like how that works.


2 Responses to “Attractional vs. Incarnational: Will Changing the Name of a Church Solve Every Church Problem, Especially Lower Attendance?”

  1. I appreciate your observations here. I agree, a name change by itself does nothing. A name change as part of a bigger change of vision – one that brings the church closer to understanding Jesus’ command to “go make disciples” – yes I believe that can do a lot!

    A nit to pick – I don’t consider low attendance to be a problem for any church – it is a symptom of a problem!

    Posted by Tim Becker | June 25, 2012, 2:33 pm
    • You’re right, the low attendance was a symptom and it went untreated and now the church is finally closed. They announced on the first Sunday in May it would close on the last Sunday in May. It did. So sad. It didn’t have to be that way.

      Posted by Brian | June 25, 2012, 2:37 pm

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